Thursday, January 31, 2008
Lessons of History
It’s a no-brainer for most of us decent, regular type Americans. Unfortunately, it’s a harsh reflection on us when we elect politicians who show such calculated moral relativism and cold indifference to human suffering.
At least that’s what most of the Senate Judiciary Committee members displayed, to their eternal shame, when they approved Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. The man would not call water boarding illegal or torture. He did, however, admit later if it was done to him, it would “feel like torture.” Something tells me he would prosecute the hell out of the person who did it to him as well. Embracing double standards is obviously a requirement to get a job in the Bush administration.
Now we get the political side show, featuring assorted scoundrels scrambling to cover their boss’s and their own behinds by destroying videotapes of this “legal” interrogation method.
But, let’s not fly off the handle and compare the Bush Administration with the Inquisition and the Gestapo. We’ll leave that to the innocent victims of Bush’s “extraordinary rendition” program and their other cruel methods of kidnapping and detention.
One of those unfortunate souls is a Canadian software engineer from Ottawa named Maher Arar. He was on his way home from a vacation in the Middle East in 2002 when he was arrested as he changed planes at JFK Airport in New York.
He was accused of being an al-Qaeda member and was deported by US officials to Syria where he claims he was tortured.
An inquiry later absolved Mr Arar of any suspicion of terrorist activities and urged the Canadian government to compensate him financially.
Justice Dennis O'Connor definitely concluded that Mr Arar was an innocent victim, stating, "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada."
The US courts claim protection of state secrets to deny him compensation.
But, again, let’s not compare the Bush Administration to the Gestapo. Instead, let’s compare them to the German Luftwaffe.
There’s an interesting article in the March, 2008 issue of World War II magazine. It’s written by retired U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Colonel James Corum. He served in Iraq and is now a professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
In his article titled “We Have Ways of Making You Talk” he explains how the Luftwaffe successfully interrogated American fliers who were captured after being shot down over Germany.
I was surprised to learn that the Germans generally followed the rules of the Geneva Convention. They learned that the best way to get information was to apply what they called the “psychological approach,” which was to exploit the human need to talk, to be understood, and be treated with respect.
They took the newly captured airmen to an evaluation center and provided food and medical care. Then they would just sit with them and talk, sometimes for hours at a time and about any subject. The airmen would offer information without even being aware that it was what the Germans were seeking.
The Germans were also smart enough to know that mistreating our airmen could result in reprisals against their own.
So, why can’t our leaders understand that?
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Hearts of Darkness
Tragically the Hearts of Darkness in Washington and on Wall Street have corrupted and abused that potential with their selfish lust for power and profit. Look what they've done to others, and shamelessly claimed to do have done in our name. They have lied and bullied, looted and pillaged, impoverished and exploited. And if none of those worked, they bombed and invaded countries, and murdered people who were no threat to us.
They dare to claim the right to impose "regime change" on anyone not cooperating with their agenda. Their illegitimate seizure of both foreign and domestic assets and resources has been the pattern of their empire building. The boldness they exhibit has now reached a level that cannot be ignored.
I urge you to read John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." It is an outstanding first person account and history of the cruel meddling by American corporatism in vulnerable countries.
I may be accused of blaming America, but we know our citizens never asked for these horrible acts of imperial aggression. When the US inevitably got attacked, the Hearts of Darkness then had the gall to tell us, "They hate us for our freedom."
It's time for revolution. We need revolution to expand our consciousness of what has been done. We need revolution to expand our conscience to guide us into doing something about it. The revolution can succeed if it is peaceful. Violence will only destroy us further and give the power elite another reason for additional repression. The government is already sculpting laws that treat dissent as terrorism.
Now they are turning on us because we, the people, are waking up and demanding justice. And justice is the last thing Washington and Wall Street want. They scorn and ignore the rule of law when it limits their power. They pervert the rule of law when it suits their objectives.
We are the ones now in their sights, and are targeted for total surveillance and control. They are the ones who hate America. Those Hearts of Darkness are the ones who hate us for our freedom. It is their institutionalized evil that is destroying our beloved country. The deadly convergence of corporatism and militarism is our nation's fatal disease.
I wonder, how will those foreigners "hate us for our freedom" when we have no freedom left?
We must learn from Gandhi’s example how to resist empire. Sooner or later we will be forced into acts of non-violent non-cooperation. We have to get at them where it matters. Boycotting the most egregious anti-American corporate entities would be a good start.
The economy will reach the point where our money won't be flowing into the corporatocracy like they've been used to. We have the numbers required to wield the power of purchase or non-purchase. We need to identify where the money flow will hurt or help us. I believe we can regain our nation's moral compass, though the obstacles are numerous and difficult.
Reclaiming our media to work in the public's interest is a vital goal. We need more exposure to Bill Moyers' kind of compassion and curiosity. And we need less exposure to the Rush O'Reallys' authoritarian fueled lies and bluster.
The corporate media has betrayed our trust in its use of the public-owned broadcast spectrum. Instead of informing us on what the government is doing to us and others, it has sided with corporatists and authoritarians by keeping us frightened, ignorant, angry and confused.
Information is our ammunition. Our collective buying power is our weapon. The people still have power. The question is when will we as the people realize this and activate that power. We need to use it, or we shall surely lose it.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
One More Prediction
So I might as well give it a shot.
Heck, I already made my first prediction back in April of ’07. That may have been a little early, though. I picked Fred Thompson. Of course this was way before he even announced his candidacy, but I had my reasons.
I understood that the White House is reserved strictly for Republicans or Southerners. That is simply how the politics has worked out since a Southerner, or a Republican, or both, had removed Kennedy from office with a rifle ballot. Er, bullet.
The deal was sealed when the Nixon campaign employed what they called the “Southern strategy”. They had to win over the Southern whites, who were traditionally democratic voters. The tumultuous civil rights movement had triggered racially based fear and anger in many Southern whites. When they saw that the black voters were going to support Democrats, it was time for the Republicans to capitalize on the situation.
And they succeeded. The old “Dixiecrats” like Strom Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in droves. The Right had put a lock on the South. Reagan and the Bush Cartel continued using this successful strategy to help secure their victories.
Along with the Southern strategy, the other primary factors in presidential selection are the pervasive corporate dominance and permanent war ingrained in our government. As history indicates, anyone who is not agreeable with this corporatism and militarism will not be selected as president.
Let’s look at the Democrats first.
Edwards is stuck in third place, but it is so refreshing to hear a presidential candidate utter the unspoken truth of corporate power corrupting our democracy and government.This in itself is as historic as a black candidate winning a primary.The corporate media will never admit that this is the fundamental issue affecting democracy in America. He has been, and will be called angry, out of the mainstream, and too radical as well. The media does its best to ignore and marginalize him.Edwards’ clear identification of what most ails this democracy is what makes him the best choice for a free and prospering future. Talk about "you can't fight city hall." This guy is taking on the corporate media, the federal government, K Street lobbyists, and Wall Street. His chances are not good. But his words are vital and the message must continue, but he will be eliminated. He is not welcome in the Empire Club.
Hillary remains the number one Democrat anointed by the Military Industrial Complex. She is the candidate "blessed" with the most corporate money. The Republicans would love to defeat her, even though she supports the wars almost as much as they do.
Obama sounds like our great not-so-white hope. His charisma and intelligence remind me of Bill Clinton. He can spin the language of change, hope, reform and progressive platitudes like no one else. He's a very dynamic speaker who inspires his listeners. We've heard this kind of talk and style from Willie. I'm afraid I suspect the same old triangulating smoke and mirrors at play here. Or am I just too cynical?
Would Obama prove to be just another liberal talker, and when it comes time to act, do the corporatist work? You know, in the "spirit of unity" and all that crap.
All this presumes he can continue with his momentum.
On to the Republicans.
Thompson could've had it all. I thought he would go all the way a year ago. He's not doing his best acting and is botching his lines. He lacks the charm of the last actor president. Turns out he has been shown to lack timing, charisma and ambition, and consequently, money.
I see Huckabee as the Republican who is like Edwards in the sense he is bucking the hard right elements. Huckabee will recite the usual party line mantra of tax cuts, less regulation, and smaller government. Something tells me the Big Boys don't like what they see as compassion for the little people. He just may be too much of a true Christian to abuse the poor and less powerful.
Rudy the 9-11 Guy is on his way out due to his open sleaze. He’ll hang around, though. His buddy Rupert Murdoch and Fox “News” will see to that.
Romney is ambitious and ruthless enough, but without the mindless mega-church bible thumping hypocrites, He can't win.
McCain, on the other hand, is perfectly militaristic and adequately neo-con influenced. He envisions a permanent military occupation in Iraq. Although he seemed to have burned some bridges with the thumpers, he has been busy sucking up and trying to patch things with that crucial right wing voting block.
Nonetheless he is the perfect company man for doing the work of the Military Industrial Complex masters.
Whether he faces Hillary or Obama in November, it probably will be a very close election. And, as we’ve learned time and again, if the election is close, the Republicans win.
The Right’s anti-democracy weapons are still in place. They will intimidate and disenfranchise voters. They will manipulate polling place access. They will work to restrict the number of voting machines in democratic precincts in order to cause huge lines to discourage participation. They are attempting to deny access to voters who lack a driver’s license or picture ID.
The myth that Republicans are better leaders during war will be forced on us more than ever. Cheney and Bush will do their best to ratchet up the threat of more war and instill as much fear as possible into the public.
Last and not least, there are the Republican Voting Machine Corporations of Amerika.
There you have it. Unless there is the unlikely event of a landslide for the Democrat, we are looking at a John McCain presidency.
Now I'm getting depressed. Here's something to lighten the mood. Have a look at the new coins of the empire: New Bush Coins
Sunday, January 6, 2008
A Real Hero, Again
He lost the 1972 election to a hateful, arrogant, and criminal incumbent. Richard Nixon was not a nice man. He later resigned because men of conscience were still in government, and they were going to impeach him. Some of those men were even Republicans.
Gone are the days. Just like today, the nation was fighting a very unpopular war that was both unjust and none of our business. The country was divided into true believers of the president and the war, and those who saw no sense in continuing the slaughter. Also similar to our recent history, a veteran who knew the horrors of war thought the quagmire needed to end and ran for president. McGovern, a B-24 pilot in World War II, ran for the presidency to restore both peace and moral standing to our country.
Americans were told by Nixon to be afraid of Communism and crime and drugs and hippies. He was a racist, and played his “Southern Strategy” to gain the votes from white Southerners who were fearful and angry over the civil rights movement. He lied about having a secret plan. He pledged to bring an “honorable end” to the war. Voters believed their “War President”. Nixon went on behaving as if his bunch were above the law. This was a man who said, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”.
There seems to be a lot of that thinking going around lately.
There is also a lot of thinking going on about impeachment, too. You’d never know it from watching TV news or reading corporate print media. The federal government is far more infected with powerful corporate influence than it was in 1972. Nixon would be called a liberal by today’s bought-and-paid-for Washington. The Constitution takes a back seat to politics and power, even in the so-called opposition party.
Shamefully, there are pathetically few politicians with a conscience these days. Very few are willing to call for the Constitutional mechanism designed to address the corrupt and criminal acts of Bush, Cheney and company.
The politicians are betraying the very soul of our nation and violating their sworn oaths to protect the Constitution. They are weak willed enablers of the destruction of our nation’s founding principles.
Citizens, on the other hand, are more aware than politicians imagine. Politicians cannot, or will not face the fact that over half the people in the country want Cheney and Bush investigated for impeachment.
There have been a few brave representatives signing on to Kucinich’s impeachment resolution for Cheney. Far too few. Where is the voice in the wilderness to inspire this miserable dysfunctional government?
Maybe it will be George McGovern. He was a real hero for his bravery in the Second World War. He is once again a hero. He is calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney in today’s Washington Post. Please read it and pass it on.
Impeach George W. Bush
Now the question is, who will listen to a man who once defended our country from fascism. Who will defend this country from fascism today?
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Count the Ways
How crooked and diabolical can these people get?
I can’t remember how many times I’ve asked myself the question. With each new revelation of scandal, crime, and corruption that we discover emanating from the fetid bowels of the Bush Administration, we can only wonder how much more there is. And when will it end? And now most importantly, what can be done about it?
It will be no small task. Not only do we need to hold the thugs, bullies, liars, cheaters, thieves, killers and other assorted crooks from within the administration accountable. We also need to methodically identify and remove the enabling scoundrels from the Democratic Party as well.
Of course, these goals are insurmountable and practically impossible. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We have our reputation to salvage and our consciences to face.
The first thing to be done is to attempt to answer my original question. Information is vital to our cause and we need to share everything we have access to. Thanks to some determined and righteously obsessed individuals, we can at last have a good look at some delineations of the assaults on peace, justice, and truth.
I am happy to have been made aware of a few lists some good people have assembled. I wish I could simply present the collected material here for you. But I can’t, and you’ll see why. However, I can give you three links to go see these lists for yourselves.
So, just how crooked can these people get? Let us count the ways
First up is TPM’s Great List of Scandalized Administration Officials, from the good folks at tpmmuckraker.com.
They kindly break the list into the following categories:
Indicted/Convicted Pled Guilty - 10 Officials
Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation, or Allegations of Impropriety – 24 Officials
Nomination Failed Due to Scandal – 5 Officials
Under Investigation but Still in office – 3 Officials
For further reading:
Next up is Hugh’s List at netrootsmass.net.
This Bush Scandals List is the one I’ve been waiting for. It has all the big ones and many more. We find the War in Iraq, mercenary “contractors”, the CIA covert identity leak, the post- 9/11 warrantless surveillance program, the PRE-9/11 warrantless wiretapping, and, of course, torture. There are far too many more to mention here.
It’s literally enough to fill a book. And this is not fiction. Check out all 293 scandals! I’m not kidding.
Last up is Angry Girl’s “20 Amazing Facts About Voting In The USA.”
These facts I can give you now. Some of them are outdated, but were true at the time of the damage done.
Did you know:
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
11. Diebold is based in Ohio.
12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as consultants and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for programming the optical scanning software now used in most of the United States.
14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it!
17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.
20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
Chilling. These facts point to the dagger in the heart of our democracy. For links to sources and references on this list, go to:
God bless those freedom fighters who hunker down and make these lists for us. We definitely owe it to them to pass along and share this information liberally. And freely.