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White House Studies Ways to Prevent US Gay Marriages
(Scott Stearns, White House, 31 Jul 2003)
White House lawyers are studying ways to prevent homosexual or lesbian marriage in the United States. Some Republican lawmakers are calling for a constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriages. . . . In a Rose Garden news conference Wednesday, President Bush said he will not compromise his belief that only men and women should marry. . . . "I believe in the sanctity of marriage," he said. "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other, and we got lawyers looking at the best way to do that." . . . Currently, only Vermont recognizes same-sex marriage as a "civil union" eligible for benefits similar to opposite-sex marriage, but only in that state. . . . June's Supreme Court decision against a Texas sodomy law has renewed calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, with religious conservatives warning that the ruling paves the way for more states to recognize such unions. . . . Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says a consitutional amendment may be necessary if courts require other states to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. . . . Mr. Bush appeared to address some of his more conservative supporters Wednesday, referring to the biblical Sermon on the Mount . . . "I am mindful that we are all sinners" [Comment: Bush obviously thinks that gays and lesbians are "sinners."] . . . Public opinion polls show just over half of all Americans oppose gay marriage with a CBS/New York Times poll released Thursday reporting that 55 percent oppose gay marriage and 40 percent support it.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:40 PM

In summary, the combined state and federal debt of the United States now stands at $14 trillion. The United States, the world's largest creditor nation when Ronald Reagan took office, is now the world's largest debtor nation. The federal debt has doubled in the last 8 years, during what is reported to the American people as being a record setting economic boom. During this same supposed economic boom, the federal government looted your social security trust fund for another 3/4 of a trillion dollars to balance the books. . . . A serious doubt exists as to whether this huge debt and its crushing interest payments ($60,000 per taxpayer since 1960) are really the responsability of the taxpayers. . . . If, after all, the only candidates on the ballot intend to borrow more money, does that mean the voters approve of the eventual loans? Does the fact that Hitler won his election prove that all Germans approved of the death camps? . . . But beyond that simple fallacy lies a greater issue, one that until now has never been fully and properly examined. And that is whether the public really voted for those who are in power at all. Are our elections truly fair, or are they simply an illusion that the public approves of whatever despot has cheated his or her way to power. . . . A search through the news reports of elections around the world shows that a truly fair and honest election is indeed a rarity. It is therefore naive (not to mention racist) to start out assuming American elections are honest simply because we are Americans. . . . Are the elections in the United States fair and honest? A review of the facts is far less than rassuring. . . . Since 1964, right after John F. Kennedy was assasinated, vote tabulation for national elections has been handled not by the government, but by a private company lacking any official oversight at all. This company, which changes its name on a regular basis, is currently called "Voters News Service" and is located in New York City. This company is owned by a consortium of TV networks and wire services, which are in turn controlled by the CIA through its Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The TV networks will make a great show of being "first with the election results", but in reality all of them rely on the numbers sent to them by VNS, while seldom aknowledging its existance during the election coverage. . . . in most precincts, the actual counting of the ballots is concealed from the public, and nobody is allowed to see inside the voting machines, or review the computer software that counts the ballots. 70% of all votes in America are counted by machine, and nobody, not private citizen, not local election official, nobody, is allowed to examine how it all works. The accuracy tests conducted on the voting machines before and after the actual election are utterly worthless, as they cannot detect fraud designed to fool the accuracy test itself. In 1988, when voting machines in Illinois were tested with tens of thousands of ballots instead of the few dozen normally used for the accuracy test, over 1/4 of the machines which had passed the standard accuracy test were found to have mistabulated the larger test vote results! . . . While researching the book, "VOTESCAM", the Collier brothers actually managed to videotape members of the League of Women voters forging ballots, and found hard evidence that Shouptronics and Printomatic vote machines were rigged in the Dade County Elections. . . . The evidence for massive vote fraud in the United States uncovered by the Voting Integrity Project and organizations like it are ignored by the government, which has obviously been the beneficiary of such chicanery, and by the media, which is complicit in the fraud. . . . All the voting machines used in the United States come from just three companies. The Presidents of two of them have been convicted of vote fraud and yet all state governments continue to do business (at very steep fees) with just these three companies. The largest of the three companies has direct access to 50% of the nation's votes. Nobody is allowed to inspect the machines, or watch as the vote totals are accumulated and counted, and there is no audit trail anywhere along the path from the voting machine to Voter's News Service, the private media-owned company that without any official oversight, tells us all what the election results are. . . . Who chooses what government we live under? Those who cast the votes, or as Stalin observed, those who count them? Do We The People pick those who govern us, or does a private company, owned by the CIA controlled media, and operating without any public oversight? Have We The People consented by vote to bear the $14 trillion burden of a government's reckless fiscal policy, or was that consent and that vote fraudulently obtained? . . . Just think about all it really means if the elections are being rigged on a massive scale. . . . It means that the contract between ruler and ruled is broken. The government does not govern with the consent of the governed, it rules by treachery and deception. The crown it wears is a stolen one, usurped from the people by three voting machine companies and one media owned results-announcer totally beyond review and reproach. . . . So, now we come back to the issue of government debt and who is really responsible for it. If, as appears to be the case, our elections are routinely being rigged, then it cannot be argued that We The People either chose, or approved of, those officials who borrowed trillions of dollars without our permission and sought to enslave us to that debt. . . . In an atmosphere of doubt about the validity of the voting process, it cannot be assumed that the American people have actually voted for or approved of any of the government's actions and policies for the last 35 years. That includes a couple of wars and some $14 trillion in debt, and the $60,000 in interest payments alone each taxpayer has had to fork over since the 60s. . . . In an atmosphere of doubt about the validity of the voting process, it appears that the entire voting process is a sham, a trick to fool the American people into accepting whatever is done to them by creating the illusion that the people somehow voted for and approved of whatever is being done. That's how Batista fooled the Cuban people. That's how the USSR fooled the Soviet citizens. And that's how the American government fools us.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:40 PM

Voting Machine Fraud Expected in Next Elections
(John Schwartz, New York Times, July 24, 2003)
The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow one person to cast multiple votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said Wednesday. . . . "We found some stunning, stunning flaws," . . . The systems, in which voters are given chip-embedded smart cards to operate the machines, could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment . . . With what we found, practically anyone in the country -- from a teenager on up -- could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like . . . The move to electronic voting, which intensified after the troubled Florida presidential balloting in 2000, has been a source of controversy among security researchers. They argue that the companies should open their software to public review to be sure it operates properly. . . . Among other things, the researchers said, ballots could be altered by anyone with access to a machine, so that a voter might think he was casting a ballot for one candidate while the vote was recorded for the opponent. . . . "This isn't the code for a vending machine," he said. "This is the code that protects our democracy."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:50 PM

We are sending our children to die
My heart goes out to Private Lynch. All this young girl was trying to do is earn a little money in the Army, since there are no jobs for her at home. She did her best under difficult circumstances, and some of her friends were killed. Anyone who has been in combat understands full well the depth of the distress she must be feeling. Yet the US government, for their own propagandistic purposes, has tried to make her into a big hero, when the real heroes in this story are the Iraqi people who helped her survive. But what really got to me was hearing Jessica Lynch's voice. It is the tiny voice of a little school girl. The real patriotic service she is now performing is to let Americans hear the voice of the young children we are sending to die for Bush and his oil company cronies.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:09 AM

Professional Liar (i.e., a lobbyist) Placed in Charge of Republican Party
In an unusually candid move, the Republicans have put an ex-lobbyist in charge of their party. It is refreshing to see that the GOP is no longer making any pretext at all of being representatives of We the People .... they are now openly the party of We the Big Businesses.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:42 AM

Pentagon plans draft of medics
(Mark Libbon, Newhouse News Service, July 21, 2003)
The Pentagon is firming up a plan to draft thousands of doctors, nurses and other health-care specialists in the event of a worst-case crisis. . . . The Selective Service System is dusting off its plan for a "health care personnel delivery system," which has been on the shelf since Congress authorized it in 1987 to cope with military casualties from a large-scale biological or chemical attack. . . . At the Pentagon's direction, the agency also is examining whether that plan for a "special skills" draft could be adapted to address critical shortages that might arise for military linguists, computer experts or engineers. . . . "We're going to elevate that kind of draft to be a priority," Lewis Brodsky, acting director of Selective Service, says. . . . The president would issue a proclamation ordering an estimated 3.5 million health-care workers to register for a draft within 13 days. Congress would quickly enact legislation authorizing the draft for health-care workers 20 to 44. For the first time, a draft would include women. . . . The Pentagon would tell Selective Service how many people it needed in each of 62 specialties. A separate draft lottery would be held for each of those needs. . . . For example, if 300 orthopedic surgeons were required, Selective Service would choose birthdays in a random lottery and order those dates from 1 to 365. Notices would go out to the surgeons, starting with the first birthday drawn, until 300 had been called. . . . The plan isn't very well-known within the medical community. . . . Brodsky said the plan has moved to the front burner because of recent signals from the Pentagon and conversations with military leaders. . . . Selective Service maintains 2,000 active draft boards around the country.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:16 PM

High-Ranking Officials Admit 9/11 Could've Been Prevented
[This link is really worth following ... the following are a few examples of what you will find there.]

They don't have any excuse because the information was in their lap, and they didn't do anything to prevent it.
� Senator Richard Shelby, then ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee; member of the joint intelligence committee that investigated 9/11

I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I think they had a veritable blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it.
� Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican member of the joint intelligence committee that investigated 9/11

After reading about all of these warnings, if you're thinking that 9/11 could've been prevented, you're not alone. A lot of top US officials feel the same way. Unfortunately, their remarks appear in isolated instances, quickly surfacing and fading away. They're gathered here for the first time.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:09 PM

A Firm Basis for Impeachment
(Robert Scheer, AlterNet, July 18, 2003)
Does the president not read? Does his national security staff, led by Condoleezza Rice, keep him in the dark about the most pressing issues of the day? Or is this administration blatantly lying to the American people to secure its ideological ends? . . . Those questions arise because of the White House admission that the charge that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger was excised from a Bush speech in October 2002 after the CIA and State Department insisted it was unfounded. Bizarrely, however, three months later � without any additional evidence emerging � that outrageous lie was inserted into the State of the Union speech to justify the president's case for bypassing the United Nations Security Council, for chasing U.N. inspectors out of Iraq and for invading and occupying an oil-rich country. . . . We now know that before Bush's January speech, Robert G. Joseph, the National Security Council individual who reports to Rice on nuclear proliferation, was fully briefed by CIA analyst Alan Foley that the Niger connection was no stronger than it had been in October. It is inconceivable that in reviewing draft after draft of the State of the Union speech, NSC staffers Hadley and Joseph failed to tell Rice that the president was about to spread a big lie to justify going to war. On national security, the buck doesn't stop with Tenet, the current fall guy. The buck stops with Bush and his national security advisor, who is charged with funneling intelligence data to the president. . . . For her part, Rice has tried to fend off controversy by claiming ignorance. . . . Rice also knew the case for bypassing U.N. inspections and invading Iraq required demonstrating an imminent threat. The terrifying charge that Iraq was hellbent on developing nuclear weapons would do the trick nicely. . . . There was no evidence for painting Saddam Hussein as a nuclear threat. . . . The proper reaction should have been to support the U.N. inspectors in doing their work in an efficient and timely fashion. We now know, and perhaps the White House knew then, that the inspectors eventually would come up empty-handed because no weapons of mass destruction program existed � not even a stray vial of chemical and biological weapons has been discovered. However, that would have obviated the administration's key rationale for an invasion, so lies substituted for facts that didn't exist. . . . And there, dear readers, exists the firm basis for bringing a charge of impeachment against the president who employed lies to lead us into war.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:01 PM

The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile
(The Memory Hole)
Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to. . . . How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America's public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America's formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing. . . . In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes." . . . By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897: Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. . . . the Rockefeller Education Board�which funded the creation of numerous public schools�issued a statement which read in part: In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way. . . . In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed: The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world. . . . Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen: We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. . . . In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population�mainly the children of the captains of industry and government�to rise to the level where they could continue running things. . . . This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren't often publicly expressed, they're apparently still known within education circles. . . . "They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world�that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:40 AM

CIVIL WAR II: Grassroots Uprising Fights to Protect Rights and Freedoms
(Betsy Barnum, Common Dreams, July 18, 2003)
In October 2001, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act setting aside many of our individual freedoms for the sake of fighting terrorism. . . . Do we understand the threat USA PATRIOT poses to our civil liberties? Or are we willing to give up our rights and freedoms in return for a promise of safety, and shrug off the danger to democracy from an unaccountable government? . . . By last week, 132 cities and counties and three states had passed resolutions stating their intention not to cooperate with some provisions of USA PATRIOT. Elected office-holders in these communities have publicly declared that they will not abide by federal laws and orders that would compel them to accord the people in their jurisdiction less than full rights and protections guaranteed to all persons in the US Constitution. . . . Who are these people who have convinced so many local lawmaking bodies to openly oppose federal law? . . . If they're anything like the Bill of Rights Defense Committees in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they are folks from all walks of life, all income levels and all points on the political spectrum. . . . Teachers. Consultants. Environmentalists. People who voted for George Bush. People who voted for Ralph Nader. Engineers. Unemployed people. Civil rights attorneys. Minimum-wage workers. Retired persons. Students. Supporters of the war on Iraq. People of faith. And a large minority from the arts community, people to whom freedom of expression is as dear as life itself. . . . And many, if not most, are involved for the first time in civil society political activism. . . . The significance of resistance to USA PATRIOT and similar acts is not who's 'right' and 'wrong' about how much they erode civil liberties, or whether that erosion is justifiable. . . . The real story is that people in communities that now total more 16 million in population have persuaded their city councils to pass, often unanimously or near-unanimously, resolutions in direct defiance of federal legislation. And if the other cities and states with active citizen groups urging similar resolutions also pass them, the total number of people living in civil rights-protective communities could rise to more than 45 million. . . . This is the real story -- that the Bush administration's efforts to launch the most direct assault on individual rights and protections since the Alien and Sedition Acts in the early days of our nation, have sparked in response the most open and defiant assertion of local democracy ever seen. . . . I know of nothing more hopeful than this for the future of democracy and freedom.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:30 AM

The 7 Vital Principles about Government
It's easy to think sometimes that a new government program, law, or regulation could cure a pressing social problem.

Whether it's a desire to stop corporate frauds, make health care more accessible, crack down on criminals, end abortions, keep the wrong people out of the country, make your city drug-free and less expensive, you can imagine how the right new law could make everything okay. But remember...

1. Government is force. Every government program, law, or regulation is a demand that someone do what he doesn't want to do, refrain from doing what he does want to do, or pay for something he doesn't want to pay for. And those demands are backed up by police with guns. (Drug War, the foreign wars, asset forfeiture, the Patriot Act...)

2. Government is politics. Whenever you turn over to the government a financial, social, medical, military, or commercial matter, it's automatically transformed into a political issue -- to be decided by those with the most political influence. And that will never be you or I.

3. You don't control government. It's easy to think of the perfect law that will stop the bad guys while leaving the good guys unhindered. But no law will be written the way you have in mind, it won't be administered the way you have in mind, and it won't be adjudicated the way you have in mind.

Your ideal law will be written by politicians for political purposes, administered by bureaucrats for political purposes, and adjudicated by judges appointed for political purposes. So don't be surprised if the new law turns out to do exactly the opposite of what you thought you were supporting.

4. Every government program will be more expensive and more expansive than anything you had in mind when you proposed it. The new program you support will eventually include all sorts of powers and privileges you can't even imagine right now.

5. Power will always be misused. Give good people the power to do good and that power eventually will be in the hands of bad people to do bad.

6. Government doesn't work. Because government is force, because government programs are designed to enrich the politically powerful, because you can't control government and make it do what's right, because every new government program soon wanders from its original purpose, and because politicians eventually misuse the power you give them, it is inevitable that no government program will deliver on the promises the politicians make for it.

7. Government must be subject to absolute limits. Because politicians have every incentive to expand government, and with it their power, there must be absolute limits on government.

The Constitution provides the obvious limits we must reimpose upon the federal government. Until the Constitution is enforced, we have no hope of containing the federal government.

If you really want to cure a pressing social problem, take steps outside the realm of government. If you don't see how you can convince people to help you succeed in a non-governmental endeavor, how can you expect to control politicians who care nothing for your desires?
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 7:48 AM

A firm basis for impeachment
(Robert Scheer, Creators Syndicate, 07.15.03)
Does the president not read? Does his national security staff, led by Condoleezza Rice, keep him in the dark about the most pressing issues of the day? Or is this administration blatantly lying to the American people to secure its ideological ends? . . . Those questions arise because of the White House admission that the charge that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger was excised from a Bush speech in October 2002 after the CIA and State Department insisted it was unfounded. . . . We now know that before Bush's January speech, Robert G. Joseph, the National Security Council individual who reports to Rice on nuclear proliferation, was fully briefed by CIA analyst Alan Foley that the Niger connection was no stronger than it had been in October. It is inconceivable that in reviewing draft after draft of the State of the Union speech, NSC staffers Hadley and Joseph failed to tell Rice that the president was about to spread a big lie to justify going to war. . . . The buck stops with Bush and his national security advisor, who is charged with funneling intelligence data to the president. . . . Rice also knew the case for bypassing U.N. inspections and invading Iraq required demonstrating an imminent threat. The terrifying charge that Iraq was hellbent on developing nuclear weapons would do the trick nicely. . . . The proper reaction should have been to support the U.N. inspectors in doing their work in an efficient and timely fashion. We now know, and perhaps the White House knew then, that the inspectors eventually would come up empty-handed because no weapons of mass destruction program existed -- not even a stray vial of chemical and biological weapons has been discovered. However, that would have obviated the administration's key rationale for an invasion, so lies substituted for facts that didn't exist. . . . And there, dear readers, exists the firm basis for bringing a charge of impeachment against the president who employed lies to lead us into war.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:55 PM

Cheney under pressure to quit over false war evidence
(Andrew Buncombe and Marie Woolf, The Independent, July 16, 2003)
Dick Cheney, the US Vice-President and the administration's most outspoken hawk over Iraq, faced demands for his resignation last night as he was accused of using false evidence to build the case for war. . . . He was accused of using his office to insist that a false claim about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium from Africa to restart its nuclear programme be included in George Bush's State of the Union address - overriding the concerns of the CIA director, George Tenet. . . . Mr Cheney was also accused of knowingly misleading Congress when the administration sought its authorisation for the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein. . . . Last week the White House admitted that the claim that Iraq was seeking "significant quantities of uranium from Africa" - based on faked documents provided by the Italian intelligence services - should not have been included in President Bush's speech of 28 January. . . . In Washington there is no conclusive proof that Mr Cheney was responsible for insisting that the claim be made in the speech. But there is clear evidence of Mr Cheney's interest in the alleged Niger deal. Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador, said he was asked by the CIA to go to Niger and investigate the claim in a request from the Vice-President's office. Mr Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, has admitted that during a briefing from the CIA "the Vice-President asked a question about the implication of the report". . . . There have been reports from CIA officials that in the months before the war Mr Cheney made a "multiple number" of personal visits to its headquarters in Virginia to meet officials analysing intelligence relating to Iraq. "[He] sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior CIA official told reporters.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:50 PM

The REAL Question
In an interview on CNN tonight, Senator Edward Kennedy said, "The press is asking the wrong question. The question isn't about whether the CIA should have taken certain language out of Bush's speech. The real question is who put that statement IN the speech and why."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:46 PM

Bush's Pattern of Corruption
(Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 15, 2003)
More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods? . . . Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from "people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a CBS.com report last September, headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." . . . But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about why we were going after a country that hadn't attacked us. It would also have suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not help, U.S. security. . . . So the Iraq hawks set out to corrupt the process of intelligence assessment. On one side, nobody was held accountable for the failure to predict or prevent 9/11; on the other side, top intelligence officials were expected to support the case for an Iraq war. . . . But let's not forget the persistent claim that Saddam was allied with Al Qaeda, which allowed the hawks to pretend that the Iraq war had something to do with fighting terrorism. . . . As Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official, said last week, U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. Yet administration officials continually asserted such a connection, even as they suppressed evidence showing real links between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia. . . . What about the risk that an invasion of Iraq would weaken America's security? Warnings from military experts that an extended postwar occupation might severely strain U.S. forces have proved precisely on the mark. But the hawks prevented any consideration of this possibility. Before the war, one official told Newsweek that the occupation might last no more than 30 to 60 days. . . . Yesterday USA Today reported that "some in the Bush administration are arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses." . . . Not that the committees are likely to press very hard: Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, seems more concerned about protecting his party's leader than protecting the country. "What concerns me most," he says, is "what appears to be a campaign of press leaks by the C.I.A. in an effort to discredit the president." . . . In short, those who politicized intelligence in order to lead us into war, at the expense of national security, hope to cover their tracks by corrupting the system even further.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:35 PM

Senator Stevens makes a mockery of the U.S. Senate
During hearings on the 2004 defense appropriations budget today in the U.S. Senate, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) made a fool of himself and a joke of the Senate by wearing a tie that apparently was an advertisement for a movie. As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee explained why our military personnel are going to have to endure many more years of family separations, his necktie subliminally advertised the movie "The Hulk." I guess that the next time he explains why we must drill for oil in our national wildlife refuges he will be wearing a sweatshirt that reads "Sponsored by Enron" or whomever his other corporate sponsors are that day.

This type of ignorant behavior is typical of U.S. politicians today and explains why our young people have abandoned the political arena. Unfortunately for them, if they don't re-engage very soon they will have to live with the horrors foisted upon them by morons like Senator Stevens.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:22 PM

US Secretary of State Colin Powell was under persistent pressure from the Pentagon and White House to include questionable intelligence in his U.N. report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, according to a US weekly . US News and World Report magazine said the first draft of the speech was prepared for Powell by Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in late January. But the draft contained such questionable material that Powell lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:47 AM

9/11 inquiry alleges witness intimidation
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, July 10, 2003)
A US panel investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks yesterday accused the Pentagon and the justice department of obstructing the inquiry and said witnesses were being intimidated. . . . The federal commission of inquiry was appointed eight months ago by the White House, which was under intense congressional pressure to look into allegations that the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon could have done more to prevent the 2001 al-Qaida attacks. . . . Among a string of apparent intelligence failures, the commission will be asking why the FBI failed to heed warnings from some of its agents that al-Qaida could be planning to hit targets with hijacked airliners. . . . Tim Roemer, a former congressman and a member of the commission, said yesterday: "We're not getting the kind of cooperation that we should be. "We need a steady stream of information coming to us...Instead, we're getting a trickle." . . . In a statement, the panel said the Pentagon's lack of cooperation was "particularly serious". . . . The inquiry's chairman, Thomas Kean, criticised the justice department for insisting intelligence officials giving testimony should be accompanied by "minders" from their agency. . . . "I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," he said. . . . But Steven Push, whose wife died on September 11 and who represents victims' families, said: "I believe that there is stonewalling going on here." . . . He added: "It's beginning to look like some type of a cover-up."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:34 AM

FBI And DOJ Move To Subvert Political Process
By Michael Gaddy

With over 100 cities having voted nonsupport for the Patriot Act, the government has swung into action to influence the votes in jurisdictions that are considering such a vote, or those that might do so. Obviously the pressure is beginning to mount. How can they expect to push Patriot II at us when so many have caught on to the game and are rejecting Patriot I? The FBI, working in conjunction with DOJ, is now sending --through local police forces to city councils and other local government bodies --a piece of drivel called "US Patriot Act Myths." A United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Mary Beth Buchanan, prepared this document.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:28 AM

Intelligence Unglued ... Calls for Cheney to Resign!
(Tom Engelhardt, tomdispatch.com, July 14, 2003)
On a day when it has just been announced that another American soldier died and six were wounded in an ambush near Baghdad, when Secretary of State Rumsfeld is hinting at a future escalation of troop levels in Iraq and the possibility of rising attacks on U.S. forces over the length of the summer, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired intelligence agents, have written a memorandum to President Bush pointing the finger directly at the Vice President in the Niger forgery flap and calling for his resignation. ("Sad to say, it is equally clear that your vice president led this campaign of deceit. This was no case of petty corruption of the kind that forced Vice President Spiro Agnew's resignation. This was a matter of war and peace. Thousands have died. There is no end in sight.") . . . If, by the way, you want one piece to bring you fully up to date on the Niger forgery flap, check out Neil Mackay's Niger and Iraq: the war's biggest lie? in the Glasgow Sunday Herald ("One senior western diplomat told the Sunday Herald: 'There were more than 20 anomalies in the Niger documents � it is staggering any intelligence service could have believed they were genuine for a moment.'"). . . . Of course, in a sense Condi Rice is right. This isn't really a flap over sixteen words in a presidential speech. Not faintly. It's about the possible unraveling, under the pressure of unexpected postwar events in Iraq, of a truly audacious and deeply radical policy for global and domestic domination. . . . I received today the following memorandum to the President from Ray McGovern, one of three members of the steering committee of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. It's a fascinating statement from that group. McGovern is a 27 year veteran from the analysis ranks of the CIA. Here's McGovern's description of VIPS: "This is a group of 30 retired senior intelligence officers formed in January of 2003 to keep watch on the use/abuse of intelligence primarily regarding Iraq. Most of us are from the analytic ranks of the CIA, but we have strong representation from the operations officers as well and we are truly an intelligence community body inasmuch as retired officers from State Department Intelligence, Defense Intelligence, Army Intelligence and the FBI are also members." . . . It's important to keep in mind, as you read this piece and other comments in coming days from retired former members of various branches of American and British intelligence, that people inside the bureaucracy are seldom willing to talk directly for quotation. It's a job-endangering prospect. So, as with the military, it's often retired former members of the "community" who hear from and speak for them.

[Note: Click on the link above to read the full text of McGovern's letter.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:04 PM

N.H. said a front-runner for libertarian splinter group
(DEAN ABBOTT, Foster's Sunday Citizen, July 13, 2003)
Like most mothers, Michelle Dumas is concerned about the kind of society her young daughter will grow up in. "I want to raise my daughter in a place free from violent crime, where she will have access to high quality education, and where personal responsibility is inherent in the culture," Dumas said.

Concern for the kind of society where her daughter will grow up is one of the reasons why the 33-year-old Somersworth woman joined the Free State Project after discovering the group on the Internet about 18 months ago.

According to the group�s Web site, the Free State Project is a group dedicated to "the effort to sign up 20,000 advocates of limited government to move to a single state" with the goal of influencing public policy in that state. The group hopes to concentrate the political efforts of its libertarian-leaning constituency in a state with a small enough population where 20,000 activists could make a difference.

And make a difference they could. University of New Hampshire Political Science Instructor David Corbin said an influx of 20,000 focused activists could have a tremendous impact on New Hampshire politics. "The world could be theirs in New Hampshire," he said.

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:20 AM

Something to think about
Ah, there's the rub. Soldiers marched into Baghdad thinking they were defending the Land of the Free, but instead, as Schwarzkopf warned, they're "like the dinosaur in the tar pit," and "bearing the costs of the occupation." Now that it's clear Saddam's weapons of mass destruction did not pose an immediate danger to the United States, why, one wonders, did George W. Bush risk the scenario his father foresaw? Rhetoric aside, for what hidden reason did he possibly "condemn" soldiers to fight in "an unwinnable urban guerilla war?" Was it for global domination? Or war profiteering? Or for oil? The answer is out there somewhere � along with Osama, Saddam and the ever elusive Truth.
Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash, July 11, 2003
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posted by Lorenzo 3:27 PM

"This is a First-Amendment-free zone."
(Ronnie Polaneczky, phillynews.com, Jul. 10, 2003)

THE DAY AFTER the opening of the National Constitution Center, Jake Browne learned of two rights apparently guaranteed to the rangers who patrol Independence National Historical Park: The right to be ignorant of U.S. laws you're protecting. And the right to be a bully. All Browne wanted on July 5th was to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech. That afternoon, the 20-year-old history major sat on a bench in the open-access park behind Independence Hall - where he eats lunch every day on break from his summer job - and propped a hand-lettered sign next to him. It read: "Free Independence Hall."

"Every day, I look at the metal bike racks around Independence Hall and think, 'That's so ugly,' " he said. "Even with red-white-and-blue bunting it looks like prison." So Saturday, as he ate his ham sandwich, pretzels and grapes, he displayed his sign. He didn't march, didn't use a bullhorn. He munched his lunch, while the sign quietly told passersby how he felt. Within 10 minutes, a park ranger approached. According to Browne, their conversation went like this:

Ranger: "You can't protest here."

Browne: "Why?"

Ranger: "This is federal property."

Browne: "What about my First Amendment right to free speech?"

Ranger: "This is a First-Amendment-free zone."

God, how I wish I was making this up.

Browne was outraged, but felt too intimidated - this was a tall, uniformed ranger, complete with shiny chin strap! - to call the guy's bluff. He said he'd turn his sign around while he ate his lunch. "He said, 'Fine. But I'm keeping my eye on you. If you turn it back, you're under arrest.' " God, how I wish I was making that up, too.

A few minutes later, said Browne, about a dozen rangers lined the metal fence near his bench and gave him the hairy eyeball while he finished his pretzels and downed his Coke. "It was very antagonizing," Browne said. The ACLU's Pennsylvania executive director thought so, too, when I called to ask if he'd ever heard of a "First-Amendment-free zone." "There's no such thing!" thundered David DiSabatino. "The whole country is a free-speech zone!" As of today, that zone will once again include the very park, in the cradle of liberty, where Browne sat last Saturday. "We've worked it out," said ACLU legal director Stefan Presser, who took up Browne's cause yesterday with park assistant superintendent Dennis Rei- denbach. According to Presser, the park official explained that some of the rangers were new to the site and "didn't understand its history." Since Reidenbach and other park officials were not available for comment yesterday, I will take Presser at his word when he says that, by "history," both men were referring to the 1988 injunction guaranteeing protesters the right to assemble on the park. It was granted by federal judge in response to police shooing protesters off the site when Ronald Reagan was speechifying there. But the history the rangers need to familiarize themselves with is the one being celebrated so richly in the park's beautiful new Constitution Center.

"It's ironic," said Browne. "There are ads everywhere saying, 'Because of the Constitution, I've got all these freedoms.' But two blocks away, the rangers are trying to take them away." I don't know about you, but it makes me want to pull hard on their chin straps and snap some sense into them.

*****AARRGGHH!!! I'm speechless!!! Really! *******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:34 AM

Where is Iraq War Instigator, Richard Perle?
(William Hughes, Palestine Chronicle, July 10, 2003)
Before the launching of Iraq War No. 2, in March 20, 2003, Perle, America�s Iago, regularly appeared on TV and cable TV programs, on radio, and in the print media, too. He repeated, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, why it was so absolutely critical for the U.S. to immediately invade Iraq. . . . America was �at risk,� he said, with that ubiquitous smirk on his mug. There wasn�t a moment to lose. �Saddam has WMD,� he told us, and he also �hates America� and poses a dire �threat to our security?� . . . The shifty Perle, the Mother of all Neocons, also predicted, like former Defense Department official, Ken Adelman, that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would be a �cakewalk!� It will be �easy,� he boasted. We would also be �exporting democracy� to the Iraqi people, who will �welcome us� with open arms �as liberators,� he claimed over and over again in similar words. Cakewalk! Easy! Exporting Democracy! Liberators! Sure! . . . Now, Perle is among the missing! The man with the sinister-looking scowl hasn�t showed up on the Talking Head circuits since about the time the U.S. occupation of Iraq began going sour. Could he be hiding out in his beloved Israel, in a safe house provided by Benjamin Netanyahu . . . It�s a certainty that the idea of �regime change� for Baghdad was first hustled in Zionist Israel. A 1996 paper concocted by Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, entitled, �A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Security the Realm,� called for, inter alia, �the removal of Saddam Hussain and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.� . . . The �realm� Perle, Feith and Wurmser were seeking to secure, however, wasn�t America�s, but Israel�s! . . . The study was intended as a blueprint for the then-upcoming Likud-dominated government of Netanyahu. Feith now works for �our� Defense Department, in a high policy post, while Wurmser is planted in the State Department as a �special assistant.� . . . Perle is a notorious Israeli Firster. He is a member of the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA). He is also a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a hard line, right wing �think tank,� that has slated Iran as Amerca�s next war target. Perle advocates a so-called �Pax Americana,� a new American Empire, which promotes America�s world domination. . . . In fact, Perle is a master deceiver! American soldiers are now dying in Iraq, 30 since President George W. Bush declared �mission accomplished� on board the USS Lincoln, on May 1, 2003. As the body bags of our fallen heroes return to Dover, Delaware�s Air Force base, loved ones have every right to blame Perle, and his ilk, for their losses. . . . The unnecessary and immoral destruction by Coalition Forces of Iraq�s gas, water and electrical works, the bombing of their cities, pollution of their lands and rivers by toxic chemicals, leaking raw sewage and tons of depleted uranium, the death and injuries to countless thousands of innocent civilians,and the mostly total collapse of its social, health, cultural and monetary systems, too, has been a human catastrophe of the first magnitude. A country of 25.5 million souls has become a living hell for no darn good reason. Opponents of the war have nothing to regret. . . . Democracy, Perle�s rotten lies to the contrary, is not, like Coke Cola, an exportable product. Americans troops now face death around every corner in Iraq, as the situation on the ground begins to resemble the guerrilla warfare conditions of the British-occupied north of Ireland during the late 70s. The Iraqi war will only be over when the Iraqi people say so. The cost to U.S. taxpayers could hit $1.6 trillion. And, this totally uncalled for conflict has created even more enemies for America around the globe. . . . A final question: Will the slippery Perle, America�s Iago, ever be forced to answer to the people for his incalculable wrongdoing?
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:48 PM

If you consider yourself fiscally conservative and would like for the government to tax less and spend less, then you might like the Republicans. If you'd like the government to increase taxes and spending, the you might prefer the Democrats. Right? Or maybe you've got it backwards.

Libertarian News
Revealed: The truth about big-spending Republicans

According to a report in USA Today [May 23, 2003], "Republicans, who pride themselves on being frugal with taxpayers' money, were bigger spenders than Democrats in state legislatures over the past five years."

USA Today reporter Dennis Cauchon crunched the budgets of all 50 states (1997-2002). He found that in states where Republicans controlled both houses of the legislature, spending rose 6.54% per year. When Democrats dominated, spending rose only 6.17%.

That difference -- .37% -- may not seem like much. But since the 50 state governments spent $983 billion in 2002, that difference will add up to tens of billions of extra dollars being sucked out of taxpayers' wallets and purses by free-spending Republicans.

Republican-controlled legislatures spent the most when their state also had a Republican governor. So, when they are not constrained by Democrats, Republicans spend tax dollars at a pace that makes even Socialists salivate.

It's also happening at the federal level, thanks to a Republican president, a Republican-controlled House, and a Republican-controlled Senate.

According to the Washington Post [April 15, 2002], federal spending increased by 22% from 1999 to 2003 -- "the biggest increase in government spending since the 1960's Great Society." Keep in mind: The GOP controlled Congress all four of those years, and the presidency for two.

From 2001 to 2002 alone, with President Bush at the helm, federal spending increased by 7% -- "or almost twice the spending rate under Bill Clinton," noted Stephen Moore [The Washington Times, May 16, 2001].

As a rule, Republican politicians spend more of your tax dollars than do Democrats.
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posted by Hal 10:27 AM

President Top Gun: Affirmatively Missing in Action
(Greg Palast, July 9, 2003)
According to discomforting information my BBC investigative team reported last week. In 1968, former Congressman George Herbert Walker Bush of Texas, fresh from voting to send other men�s sons to Vietnam, enlisted his own son in a very special affirmative action program, the �champagne� unit of the Texas Air National Guard. . . . after the White House staged our President�s dramatic landing by fighter jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abe Lincoln ... unlike experienced flyers, kept his parachute clips fastened under his crotch, making him look a little less like Tom Cruise and more like that first chimp in space.) . . . In 1968, to qualify for the single available pilot spot in the Air Guard, young George took a test. He scored, out of a possible 100, only 25. (Word is that the chimp scored 26.) How then, did our future President � opponent of affirmative action, who believes no one should get their post except through merit -- leap over thousands of other applicants and cinch the get-out-of-�Nam post? . . . Here�s what you won�t see on US TV: Years back I got my hands on a copy of a document languishing in Justice Department files in Austin, Texas. In it, a tipster fingers two political friends of Bush Senior who, the source claimed, made the call to get young Bush out of the war and into the cockpit at the Air Guard. But the Feds could not act without corroboration. Now we have it. To the BBC crew, one of those named confessed to making the call � at Bush Senior�s request � to help George W dodge the draft. (I�ve posted the letter . . . Look, I don�t care if President Bush cowered and ran from Vietnam. I sure as hell didn�t volunteer � but then, my daddy didn�t send someone else in my place. And I don�t march around with parachute clips around my gonads talking about war and sacrifice. . . . That�s far from the end of the story. There are only two men alive today (outside the Bush family) who knew exactly how George Bush ducked the draft. Both men became high-powered Texas lobbyists. To an influence peddler, having damning information on a sitting governor is worth it�s weight in gold � or, more precisely, there�s a value in keeping the info secret. One of the lobbyists, former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes, appears to have made lucrative use of his knowledge of our President�s slithering out of the draft as a lever to obtain a multi-billion dollar contract for a client. The happy client paid Barnes, the keeper of Governor Bush�s secret, a fee of over $23 million. Barnes, not surprisingly, denies that Bush took care of his client in return for Barnes� silence. However, confronted with the evidence, the former Lt. Governor now admits to helping the young George stay out of Vietnam. . . . This week, on July 6, George W. Bush turned 57. William White was born the same day in 1946. I mention this because, if you�re old enough, you�d remember that young men were drafted for Vietnam based on a grim lottery � if your birthday was picked out of a hat, you went. I got White�s name off a black wall in Washington. He went to Vietnam when George W went to the Air Guard in Houston. White never came back. Happy birthday, Mr. President.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:47 PM

White House Admits Bush Lied to the Nation About Iraqi Nukes
(Capitol Hill Blue, 08 July 2003)
After weeks of denial, the White House Monday finally admitted President Bush was wrong in his January State of the Union Address when he claimed Iraq had sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa. . . . An intelligence consultant who was present at two White House briefings where the uranium report was discussed confirmed that the President was told the intelligence was questionable and that his national security advisors urged him not to include the claim in his State of the Union address. . . . "The report had already been discredited," said Terrance J. Wilkinson, a CIA advisor present at two White House briefings. "This point was clearly made when the President was in the room during at least two of the briefings." Bush's response was anger, Wilkinson said. . . . "He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country." . . . To date, American troops have found no proof of the existence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. . . . Wilkinson retired two months later but says he wrote "numerous memos" questioning the wisdom of using "intelligence information that we knew to be from dubious sources." . . . A British parliamentary committee has also concluded that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government mishandled intelligence material on Iraqi weapons. . . . John Stanley, a Conservative member of the committee, said so far no evidence has been found in Iraq to substantiate four key claims, including that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa as part of an effort to restart a nuclear weapons program. . . . The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United Nations in March that the information about uranium was based on forged documents.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

George W. Bush: Scorecard of Evil
[Click the above link to see the full scorecard, complete with details and links to stories. The site lists the Bush administration's deeds by "Evil Index" "Evil Act" and "Evil Details". ]
A few examples of little Bush's evil acts
Bush tries to remove Yellowstone from UN World Heritage Site list.
Bush proposes to eliminate overtime for 8 million American workers.
Bush suppresses EPA report on global warming.
Bush guts Americorps.
Bush overstates the case on weapons of mass destruction.
Bush refuses to issue proclamation for Gay Pride Month--again.
Bush eases media ownership rules.
Bush blocks human rights cases from reaching U.S. courts.
Bush ensures that hydrogen cars will still pollute.
Bush plans executions at Guantanamo Bay.
Bush tries to revive military database of every American with public relations push.
Bush charges dozens of people as terrorists for no reason.
Bush fails to protect Iraqi nuclear site from looting.
Bush interferes with Canada's decriminalization of marijuana.
Bush seeks new domestic investigation powers for the CIA and military.

Bush suppresses September 11 report.
Bush plans re-election strategy around September 11 anniversary.
Bush limits protected wilderness areas.
Bush requests secret bids for post-war aid contracts in Iraq.
Bush invades Iraq.
Bush undermines international treaty on tobacco.
Bush exempts oil and gas industries from clean water regulations.
Bush opens Alaska forest to logging.
Bush restricts family-planning programs from AIDS-prevention funds.
Bush relaxes rules on ready-to-eat meat products.
Bush lies about economists' support for his tax plan.
Bush delays report on the dangers of mercury.
Bush explores creating new nuclear weapons.
Bush cuts education for military dependents.
Bush proposes no aid for Afghanistan.
Bush proposes more restrictions on civil liberties.
Bush cuts aid to the poor in his budget.
Bush proposes a tax break for the biggest SUVs.
Bush joins court fight against affirmative action.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:14 PM

Thousands Protest Bush on July 4th
(Martha Woodall, Inquirer, 05 July 2003)
. . . in a march that snaked through the hot Center City streets, 3,000 to 5,000 demonstrators shook placards to a steady drumbeat and chanted: "Stop the crazy son of a Bush! Stop the war now!" . . . When the protest originally was scheduled, President Bush was expected to attend the Constitution Center's opening. He later decided to skip the celebration . . . The event attracted veterans of the antiwar movement, college students, and parents pushing children in strollers. . . . "We think there was a lot of diversity," said Phoebe Schellenberg, a spokeswoman for the nearly 20 groups that organized the event. "We were really pleased because we are trying to say it is people from all walks of life who are opposing these policies." . . . Speakers and demonstrators lambasted not only the war in Iraq, but also Bush's foreign policy and domestic agenda. . . . the administration had watered down the Constitution. He and others said the USA Patriot Act, which increased the federal government's surveillance powers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was unconstitutional. . . . It "is really reminiscent of the McCarthy days. It's taking away our rights of free speech," said Franny Breen of Center City, another Green Party member. . . . To illustrate the point, a huge puppet of Bush feeding the Bill of Rights into a paper shredder was stationed at the rally-site entrance with a sign reading: "Defend our rights, repeal the Patriot Act now."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:14 AM

"Bring 'Em On?"
(Stan Goff, Counterpunch, 03 July 2003)

A Former Special Forces Soldier Responds to Bush's Invitation for Iraqis to Attack US Troops
In 1970, when I arrived at my unit I was charged up for a fight. I believed that if we didn't stop the communists in Vietnam, we'd eventually be fighting this global conspiracy in the streets of Hot Springs, Arkansas. . . . So I was dismayed when one of my new colleagues--a veteran who'd been there ten months--told me, "We are losing this war." . . . Not only that, he said, if I wanted to survive for my one year there, I had to understand one very basic thing. All Vietnamese were the enemy, and for us, the grunts on the ground, this was a race war. Within one month, it was apparent that everything he told me was true, and that every reason that was being given to the American public for the war was not true. . . . Yesterday, when I read that US Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, in a moment of blustering arm-chair machismo, sent a message to the 'non-existent' Iraqi guerrillas to "bring 'em on," the first image in my mind was a 20-year-old soldier in an ever-more-fragile marriage, who'd been away from home for 8 months. He participated in the initial invasion, and was told he'd be home for the 4th of July. He has a newfound familiarity with corpses, and everything he thought he knew last year is now under revision. He is sent out into the streets of Fallujah (or some other city), where he has already been shot at once or twice with automatic weapons or an RPG, and his nerves are raw. He is wearing Kevlar and ceramic body armor, a Kevlar helmet, a load carrying harness with ammunition, grenades, flex-cuffs, first-aid gear, water, and assorted other paraphernalia. His weapon weighs seven pounds, ten with a double magazine. His boots are bloused, and his long-sleeve shirt is buttoned at the wrist. It is between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit at midday. He's been eating MRE's three times a day, when he has an appetite in this heat, and even his urine is beginning to smell like preservatives. Mosquitoes and sand flies plague him in the evenings, and he probably pulls a guard shift every night, never sleeping straight through. He and his comrades are beginning to get on each others' nerves. The rumors of 'going-home, not-going-home' are keeping him on an emotional roller coaster. Directives from on high are contradictory, confusing, and often stupid. The whole population seems hostile to him and he is developing a deep animosity for Iraq and all its people--as well as for official narratives. . . . This is the lad who will hear from someone that George W. Bush, dressed in a suit with a belly full of rich food, just hurled a manly taunt from a 72-degree studio at the 'non-existent' Iraqi resistance. . . . This de facto president is finally seeing his poll numbers fall. Even chauvinist paranoia has a half-life, it seems. His legitimacy is being eroded as even the mainstream press has discovered now that the pretext for the war was a lie. It may have been control over the oil, after all. Anti-war forces are regrouping as an anti-occupation movement. Now, exercising his one true talent--blundering--George W. Bush has begun the improbable process of alienating the very troops upon whom he depends to carry out the neo-con ambition of restructuring the world by arms. . . . Somewhere in Balad, or Fallujah, or Baghdad, there is a soldier telling a new replacement, "We are losing this war."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:54 AM

This is what a Kucinich administration would work to deliver for America
[Note: Details are of each point may be found via the link above.]
[1] Universal Health Care with a Single Payer Plan
[2] Full Social Security Benefits at Age 65
[3] Withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO
[4] Repeal of the "Patriot Act"
[5] Right-to-Choose, Privacy, and Civil Rights
[6] Balance Between Workers and Corporations
[7] Guaranteed Quality Education, Pre-K through College
[8] A Renewed Commitment to Peace and Diplomacy
[9] Restored Rural Communities and Family Farms
[10] Environmental Renewal and Clean Energy

Who is Dennis Kucinich?
Congressman Kucinich of Ohio is a modern "Profile in Courage." In the late 1970s, as the youngest mayor ever of a major city, Dennis bravely said "NO" to an Enron-like takeover of Cleveland�s city-owned power company, Muny Light. In retaliation, major banks�which were interlocked with the private utility that would have become a monopoly by seizing Muny�drove the city into default. Dennis�s political career was derailed ... until 15 years later, when he was vindicated for resisting a corporate power grab and saving Cleveland residents hundreds of millions of dollars on their electric bills. In five consecutive winning elections since 1994, his campaign symbol has been a light bulb.

Elected to Congress in 1996, Dennis has continued to wage courageous battles for workers, consumers, the environment, and civil rights. He is the only presidential candidate who voted against the civil libertiesshredding "Patriot Act." He rallied opposition to the illegal and destabilizing Iraq war�from a small group of Congressional dissenters to the nearly 2/3 of House Democrats who ultimately voted against the war resolution. He co-chairs the Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of Democrats in Congress. Dennis Kucinich is a heartland politician who can win elections. When he became mayor, state senator, and then Congress member, he defeated a Republican incumbent each time. In 2004, he hopes to defeat another one: George W. Bush.

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:08 PM

Bush's Vietnam
(John Pilger, New Statesman, June 22, 2003)
America's two "great victories" since 11 September 2001 are unravelling. In Afghanistan, the regime of Hamid Karzai has virtually no authority and no money, and would collapse without American guns. Al-Qaeda has not been defeated, and the Taliban are re-emerging. Regardless of showcase improvements, the situation of women and children remains desperate. . . . "We are in a combat zone the moment we leave this base," an American colonel told me at Bagram airbase, near Kabul. "We are shot at every day, several times a day." When I said that surely he had come to liberate and protect the people, he belly-laughed. . . . American troops are rarely seen in Afghanistan's towns. They escort US officials at high speed in armoured vans with blackened windows and military vehicles, mounted with machine-guns, in front and behind. Even the vast Bagram base was considered too insecure for the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, during his recent, fleeting visit. So nervous are the Americans that a few weeks ago they "accidentally" shot dead four government soldiers in the centre of Kabul, igniting the second major street protest against their presence in a week. . . . In Iraq, scene of the second "great victory", there are two open secrets. The first is that the "terrorists" now besieging the American occupation force represent an armed resistance that is almost certainly supported by the majority of Iraqis who, contrary to pre-war propaganda, opposed their enforced "liberation . . . The second secret is that there is emerging evidence of the true scale of the Anglo-American killing, pointing to the bloodbath Bush and Blair have always denied." . . . The Americans call the guerrillas "Saddam loyalists" and "Ba'athist fighters", in the same way they used to dismiss the Vietnamese as "communists". Recently, in Falluja, in the Sunni heartland of Iraq, it was clearly not the presence of Ba'athists or Saddamists, but the brutal behaviour of the occupiers, who fired point-blank at a crowd, that inspired the resistance. The American tanks gunning down a family of shepherds is reminiscent of the gunning down of a shepherd, his family and sheep by "coalition" aircraft in a "no-fly zone" four years ago, whose aftermath I filmed and which evoked, for me, the murderous games American aircraft used to play in Vietnam, gunning down farmers in their fields, children on their buffaloes. . . . "Search and destroy", the scorched-earth tactic from Vietnam, is back. In the arid south-eastern plains of Afghanistan, the village of Niazi Qala no longer stands. American airborne troops swept down before dawn on 30 December 2001 and slaughtered, among others, a wedding party. Villagers said that women and children ran towards a dried pond, seeking protection from the gunfire, and were shot as they ran. After two hours, the aircraft and the attackers left. According to a United Nations investigation, 52 people were killed, including 25 children. "We identified it as a military target," says the Pentagon, echoing its initial response to the My Lai massacre 35 years ago. [Comment: One of the people who tried to cover up the massacre at My Lai was none other than Bush's house slave, Colin Powell.] . . . In Afghanistan, there has been similar carnage. In May last year, Jonathan Steele extrapolated all the available field evidence of the human cost of the US bombing and concluded that as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the bombing, many of them drought victims denied relief. . . . The use of uranium-tipped munitions evokes the catastrophe of Agent Orange. In the first Gulf war in 1991, the Americans and British used 350 tonnes of depleted uranium. According to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, quoting an international study, 50 tonnes of DU, if inhaled or ingested, would cause 500,000 deaths. Most of the victims are civilians in southern Iraq. It is estimated that 2,000 tonnes were used during the latest attack. . . . An official map distributed to non-government agencies in Iraq shows that the American and British military have plastered urban areas with cluster bombs, many of which will have failed to detonate on impact. These usually lie unnoticed until children pick them up, then they explode.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:56 PM

Dean Not Progressive on Mideast
(Ahmed Nassef, AlterNet, June 30, 2003)
Although often portrayed as progressive, former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean falls short on several issues important to progressives, with the Middle East being one of the more glaring. . . . In a major foreign policy speech earlier this year, Dean, while calling for an end to Palestinian violence, did not call for an end to Israeli violence, let alone an end to the illegal Israeli occupation. . . . And when asked whether his views are closer to the dovish Americans for Peace Now (APN) or the right-wing, Sharon-supporting American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he stated unequivocally in an interview with the Jewish weekly The Forward, "My view is closer to AIPAC's view." . . . "At one time the Peace Now view was important, but now Israel is under enormous pressure. We have to stop terrorism before peace negotiations," he said. . . . Similarly, Dean's official campaign position on solving the Palestinian-Israeli problem is that "terrorism against Israel must end," but there is no mention of the Israeli violence that has resulted in over 2,391 deaths since September 2000. . . . In fact, Dean's alignment with AIPAC and their right-wing politics goes much deeper than aligning with the group�s platform. Last year, he named Steven Grossman, a former AIPAC head, as his campaign's chief fundraiser. Soon after, he flew to Israel on an AIPAC-sponsored junket. . . . In fact, Dean thinks President Bush is way too soft on Iran. In a March appearance on CBS' �Face the Nation,� Dean explained that "[President Bush] is beholden to the Saudis and the Iranians," something that would certainly come as a surprise to the current regime leaders in Iran who've been labeled as part of an alleged "Axis of Evil" by the current U.S. president. Dean even left open the possibility of preemptive strikes against that country in that interview, adding that "we have to be very, very careful of Iran." . . . Apparently, there is another side to this "anti-war" candidate. When combined with his dubious record as governor on issues like welfare "reform" and gun control, it may be prudent for progressives to think twice before casting their vote for Howard Dean.

[Comment: Another reason to beware of this wolf in sheeps clothing is his active participation in defeating all attempts to make medical marijuana available to people who need it.]
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posted by Lorenzo 9:43 AM

(Michael C. Ruppert, From the Wilderness)
There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious...But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications . . . Let's just suppose for a moment that George W. Bush was removed from the White House. Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz and Rove too. What would that leave us with? It would leave us stuck in hugely expensive, Vietnam-like guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would leave us with the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and Total Information Awareness snooping into every detail of our lives. It would leave us with a government in violation of the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments to the Constitution. It would leave us with a massive cover-up of US complicity in the attacks of 9/11 that, if fully admitted, would show not intelligence "failures" but intelligence crimes, approved and ordered by the most powerful people in the country. . . . the decision has already been made by corporate and financial powers to remove George W. Bush, whether he wants to leave or not, and whether he steals the next election or not . . . George W. Bush is just a hired CEO who is about to be removed by the "Board of Directors". Who are they? Are they going to choose his replacement? Are you going to help them? . . . The greatest test of the 2004 presidential election campaign is not with the candidates. It is with the people. There are strong signs that presidential election issues on the Democratic side are already being manipulated by corporate and financial interests. And some na�ve and well-intentioned (and some not-so-na�ve and not-so-well intentioned) activists are already playing right into the Board's hands. There are many disturbing signs that the only choice offered to the American people will be no choice at all. . . . The final platforms for Election 2004 will likely be manifestos of madness unless we dictate differently. . . . Has everyone suddenly forgotten that the 2000 election was stolen: first by using software and political machinery to disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters, then by open interference at polling places, and finally by an absolutely illegal Supreme Court decision? Do these people believe that such a crime, absolutely successful the first time, will never be attempted again? . . . And, if all else fails, we can have more Wellstone plane crashes. It has worked with three Democratic Senate candidates in key races over the last thirty years. Maybe that's why no one in Congress is talking about the election process. Plane crashes are part of that process too. . . . The foundation of the impeachment - or the scandal that will prompt a regime change - was laid in a March 17 letter written by California Congressman Henry Waxman who has been dogging the Bush administration on its violations of law since it took office. Waxman's first battle was over the refusal of the administration to release the mostly still-secret records of Vice President Cheney's 2001 Energy Task Force. It is there that some of the biggest secrets of 9/11 lay buried. . . . On June 26, a twenty-seven-year CIA veteran analyst tied the pieces together and made it clear that, Bush is fighting a battle he cannot win. Just as it was with Nixon, the intelligence agencies have turned against him. . . . Senior Pentagon officers have told me that Rumsfeld and his political advisers take no criticism from the military or the career civil servants, to complain publicly though is to sign a death warrant for your career. The "cabal" as they call themselves are extremely vindictive but there remains a full-scale rebellion within the Pentagon, especially the Defense Intelligence Agency, as well as the CIA and State over the cooking of the books on the non-existent Iraqi WMDs. The people who have been dissed by Rumsfeld and his gang know WMDs are their weak point and even Richard Perle is worried that the wheels are coming off their charade. . . . The power of the military, rarely discussed in the news media, is substantial. And if the military has no confidence in the White House, it will shake both Washington and Wall Street to the core. Without the military, Wall Street cannot function. . . . Not since the Watergate scandal of 1972-4 has a crescendo of press stories been more carefully crafted. And it is because of this that we can see many historical connections to Watergate - a coup that took down a President who believed he was invincible. . . . Tenet released a statement on Oct. 8 that said, "There is no inconsistency between our view of Saddam's growing threat and the view as expressed by the president in his speech." He went on to say, however, that the chance that the Iraqi leader would turn weapons over to al Qaeda was "low, in part because it would constitute an admission that he possesses" weapons of mass destruction. . . . On Oct. 9, the CIA sent a letter to Graham and Levin informing them that no additional portions of the intelligence report would be made public...Why would Tenet refuse to declassify additional portions of the report? Because, as I am sure he will ultimately testify, he was ordered not to by President Bush himself. That would close the case for obstruction of justice in a manner similar to the way that Richard Nixon's coup de grace was an 18-minute gap on a tape recording of Oval Office deliberations. That would follow the pattern set in the joint 9/11 intelligence hearings when Staff Director Eleanor Hill objected to the fact that - even though some of it was already a matter of public record and previously documented in FTW's 9/11 reporting - the CIA had classified details as to what information about impending attacks the President had received before the attacks. . . . The Bush administration will be controlled as it is being eased out. Business and finance cannot afford any more militarism and this is all that the Neocons know. . . . The biggest challenge for those who run the country---who select, remove and replace presidents---will be to oust the Bush administration and yet keep the darkest secrets of 9/11 from being publicly acknowledged.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:26 PM

Bush Wants To Bankrupt America: There is Method To His Madness
(Sam Hamod, Information Clearing House)
Some have wondered if GW Bush knows what he's doing with his tax cut that benefits the corporations and the very rich, and cuts away the remaining money of the poor and the middle class. I say yes, he does know what he'd up to, as do his corporate advisors and his neo-con economist friends and theorists, chief among them Grover Norquist. Norquist has been the chief architect behind the dismantling of the American federal financial structure in terms of benefits for the common citizen, but has helped to create the superstructure of tax breaks for the very rich and the corporatocracy that now has a choke-hold on America. . . . The plan is very simple, but not obvious on first blush. Make sure that all the money is gone from the U.S. treasury, make sure the deficits are so great that all social and educational programs are cut, increase the military and security budgets to "protect our nation" with all these monies going to corporations and security firms . . . stave in the social security fund by allowing it to go to private corporations for "investment"-and you have the perfect scenario for saying, "only the private sector can save us-we're broke and they have the money to run every program, fund every program, but of course, at huge costs and profits for the private corporations." Our only resource will be the corporate lenders, especially the large extra-national corporations who will have loyalty to no one except their corporate coffers and large share owners throughout the world. . . . Friends, we are in a mess of catastrophic proportions on so many fronts that it will be difficult to unravel all the various strains of this explosive Bushian virus. I use the term virus, because Bush is trying to pack the courts with his appointees from the neo-con right, placing government officials in corporations and in some cases, in law schools so that the neo-con approach to the destruction of the federal government may have academic credentials and blessings. Yes, this is an artificially created virus intended to kill the patient-namely, our democracy and our formerly free and decent lives.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:19 PM

Political overload
(Paul J. Balles, 27 June 2003)
I wish that the political overload didn't feel so necessary. After spending half a lifetime focusing on making parts of the world a bit more literate and being a goodwill ambassador for my country, I'm in the unenviable position of watching my country being destroyed by frauds. Many of the people I have loved and who have loved me over the years have transferred that love to America. If I just sat silently hoping that all would blow over, I couldn't live with myself. . . . Now the arch Zionists and ultra right wing evangelists have brought my whole house of American cards down around me with the help of - guess who? The American public! You and your friends and mine still in America are letting me and the country down. How? you might ask. Collectively, you're letting America run concentration camps like Guantanamo. You're letting our president and his entire administration get away with lying and cheating America and the world with not so much as a word of complaint. . . . You let a monstrous military might kill thousands of Iraqis for oil. This doesn't count the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children you allowed to die under US sanctions. You don't challenge the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] crap that was peddled to you. You let Ashcroft and his motley crowd arrest and detain Arabs just for being Arabs. You let Rumsfeld tell off the world and threaten everyone who doesn't cow-tow to the American line, destroying friendly alliances. You let the US, almost single handedly, denigrate and nearly demolish the UN. You proudly claim exemption from criminal trials by the International Criminal Court, allowing America to commit crimes that hundreds of Hitler's henchmen had to pay for. You let Zionists like Perle and Wolfowitz run American foreign policy. . . . you now let Bush remain in office despite the fact that he wasn't elected to it, despite the fact that he's lied about Iraq, despite his ineffectiveness in destroying al-Qaeda and failure to capture either bin Laden or Saddam, despite his running the country into incredible debt, despite his serving his oil cronies' interests over anyone else and despite his tax relief for the wealthy. . . . I'm surrounded by people who know these truths that I speak of. Many Americans know them too but refuse to admit to them. Arabs, Asians, Europeans, Africans and Latin Americans can no longer trust you and me and ordinary Americans who swear by a democracy that has become anything but a democracy, who speak of liberty when they mean control, and who refuse to exercise any significant role as citizens of a democracy.

[Paul Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for 34 years.]
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posted by Lorenzo 12:15 PM

Autopsy: No Arabs on Flight 77
(Thomas R. Olmsted, M.D, Sierra Times, July 1, 2003)
Astute observers noticed right away that there were no Arabic sounding names on any of the flight manifests of the planes that �crashed� on that day. . . . A list of names on a piece of paper is not evidence, but an autopsy by a pathologist, is. I undertook by FOIA request, to obtain that autopsy list and you are invited to view it below. Guess what? Still no Arabs on the list. It is my opinion that the monsters who planned this crime made a mistake by not including Arabic names on the original list to make the ruse seem more believable. . . . the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), does a miraculous job and identified nearly all the bodies on November 16th 2001. . . .
The AFIP suggest these numbers; 189 killed, 125 worked at the Pentagon and 64 were �passengers� on the plane. The AA list only had 56 and the list just obtained has 58. They did not explain how they were able to tell �victims� bodies from �hijacker� bodies. In fact, from the beginning NO explanation has been given for the extra five suggested in news reports . . . No Arabs wound up on the morgue slab; however, three ADDITIONAL people not listed by American Airline sneaked in. I have seen no explanation for these extras. I did give American the opportunity to �revise� their original list, but they have not responded. The new names are: Robert Ploger, Zandra Ploger, and Sandra Teague. The AFIP claims that the only �passenger� body that they were not able to identify is the toddler, Dana Falkenberg, whose parents and young sister are on the list of those identified. The satanic masterminds behind this caper may be feeling pretty smug about the perfect crime, but they have left a raft of clues tying these unfortunates together. Stay tuned for part two to take a much closer look of the cast of characters on this ill-fated flight.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:02 PM

Clarence Thomas is a Hypocrite
Recently, Thomas joined two other arch-conservative justices and voted against the majority of the Court who believe that what people do in their own bedrooms should be respected as private and not subject to government snooping. However, when it suited his own purposes, Thomas sang a different tune. Here is what he had to say at his own confirmation hearings:

I will not provide the rope for my own lynching or for further humiliation. I am not going to engage in discussions nor will I submit to roving questions of what goes on in the most intimate parts of my private life or the sanctity of my bedroom. These are the most intimate parts of my privacy, and they will remain just that, private.

It seems that Mr. Thomas wants his own privacy but is more than willing to peek into other peoples' bedrooms when it suits his fancy. This man is a disgrace to the legal profession and never should have been appointed to the Supreme Court by Bush the first. Of course, he repaid the favor by voting to appoint Bush's incompetent son to take over the White House.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:16 AM

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