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These are dark days for America
At the moment, however, it does not look good, as President Bush et alia are wedding imperial capitalism to Christian fundamentalism with its repression of complexity in the arts and sciences in a state of permanent war against terrorists, first foreign, but soon domestic. As Ashcroft has said, carrying on in the tradition of J. Edgar Hoover and Senator McCarthy, those who would restrain him with their misguided liberal notions are 'only giving ammunition to the enemy'.
-- William Irwin Thompson
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posted by Lorenzo 2:38 PM
Republicans Attempt to Stifle African-American Vote
(Jo Becker, Washington Post, August 26, 2004)
The NAACP and other civil rights leaders yesterday charged that recent events suggest the Republican Party is mounting a campaign to keep African Americans and other minority voters away from the polls this November. . . . In a new report, the NAACP and People for the American Way cite incidents from Florida to Detroit. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said efforts at intimidation and suppression, once a tool of Democrats in the Jim Crow South, "have increasingly become the province of the Republican Party" as it seeks to counter the overwhelming advantage Democrats enjoy among black voters. . . . Studies suggest that as many as 4 million to 6 million voters were disenfranchised in 2000, either because registration problems prevented qualified voters from casting ballots or because of errors caused by faulty, outdated technology. In Florida, the Civil Rights Commission found that black voters were 10 times as likely as whites to have their ballots rejected, a trend also found in other parts of the country. . . . To prevent against a repeat, more than 60 nonprofit groups have banded together to form a "Voter Protection Coalition." The group is planning to have 25,000 volunteers -- including 5,000 lawyers -- staff Election Day hotlines, videotape polls and go to court if necessary. In the meantime, the coalition has been collecting anecdotes that form the basis of yesterday's report. . . . Among the incidents cited: A Republican state representative in Michigan told the Detroit Free Press that the GOP will have "a tough time" if "we do not suppress the Detroit vote." Detroit is 83 percent black. . . . In Jefferson County, Ky., the local GOP plans to send poll watchers to Democratic, predominantly black precincts to challenge voters' eligibility. A similar, 2002 plan provoked cries of voter intimidation after a recruitment flier became public. The flier asked for volunteers to protect Ernie Fletcher's gubernatorial campaign against potential fraud by "the black militant division of the AFL-CIO" and the NAACP. . . . In South Dakota, where Native Americans are a key constituency for Democrats, some said they were turned away from the polls during a special election this summer because they did not have photo-identification The secretary of state has blamed the problems on well-intentioned poll workers who did not understand a new law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature. . . . In many cases cited it is unclear who is behind the incidents. In Maryland's 2002 gubernatorial election, anonymous fliers were distributed in black neighborhoods in Baltimore gave voters the wrong date for Election Day and told them to be sure to pay parking tickets, overdue rent and outstanding warrants. . . . "We are reminding voters, election officials, and the media about the kinds of dirty tricks that can be expected," Bond said.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:37 PM
Bush's October Surprise: War With Korea
Buried in an article in today's International Herald Tribune, without any particular emphasis, was a significant item of information: -- The United States has scheduled naval exercises off the coast of North Korea at the end of October. What could explain a decision to schedule such naval exercises (by definition, optional) but at precisely that time. Bush-Cheney-Rove wants to have the option, if Bush's election does not appear assured in the week prior to election day, to either (1) seek to provoke a genuine North Korean attack on an American ship -- and retaliate or (2) in good Gulf of Tonkin style, claim a non-existent North Korean attack -- and retaliate or (3) launch a frankly "preventive" or "pre-emptive" attack against North Korea. Where such courses of action would lead the region and the world cannot be determined in advance but, presumably, would be of limited concern to Bush-Cheney-Rove. Any of such alternative approaches to war would almost certainly assure the election of the Commander-in Chief on November 2. Tell your representatives to be heads up on this. Congressional Switchboard: 877-762-8762 & 202-224-3121.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:31 AM
The McGreevey Scandal - an Israeli Connection
(Wayne Madsen, Counterpunch, August 14/15, 2004)
New Jersey Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey's announcement on August 12 that he was resigning because of his involvement in a gay relationship with an Israeli national may be the tip of an iceberg that represents another high-level Israeli attempt to burrow into the most sensitive areas of U.S. national security and our political process. . . . The ties between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Russian-mafia infused government and shadowy Israeli and Eastern European ex-intelligence agents are beyond a doubt, according to international law enforcement officials. But what is not readily apparent is the fact that a number of Israeli off-the-books intelligence operatives are active inside the United States and they do not have U.S. national interests in mind. . . . The fact that White House chief dirty tricks operator Karl Rove has close connections to the political spin machine run out of Sharon's Jerusalem office is also a concern when it comes to Israeli-connected dirty tricks operations being run against Democratic politicians in the United States. . . . Mayor McGreevey joined a large delegation of New Jersey Jewish supporters in a political "mega pilgrimage" to Israel, where he met Golan Cipel, said to be a tour guide/information officer for the mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Le-Zion, the first Zionist settlement in Palestine. However, Cipel had previously been the press secretary for the Israeli consulate general in New York City. In 1999, Cipel, who is now being described as a one-time low-level Israeli government employee in New York and a "poet," gave a speech on behalf of the Israeli government at a meeting at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Madison Avenue offices on some very high profile issues, including the implications of the recent death of King Hussein of Jordan, the upcoming Israeli elections, and the peace process with the Palestinian Authority. . . . Cipel was also a former Israeli naval officer, leaving the service with the rank of lieutenant. How a person goes from an influential position with one of the most important Israeli diplomatic missions abroad to a mere Jerusalem area tour guide seems, on the surface, extraordinary. But in the world of intelligence, such career changes are driven by political necessity, not by choice. McGreevey's admitted lifelong homosexuality also made him a likely target for an intelligence approach--and Cipel, who, as a 1998 graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and the New York Israeli consulate's press spokesman, was more than familiar with north Jersey's political and social terrain. . . . There may be good reasons why the neo-conservatives want to play down Cipel's Israeli roots--McGreevey may have been set up in an attempt to ruin him and influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election. When foreign nations are found to be influencing American politics, there is an almost uniform tendency for the American people to react negatively to such meddling. One must merely recall the wailing and crying raised over alleged Chinese political contributions to Democrats and Republicans during the Clinton administration. . . . New Jersey was considered a swing state by the Bush campaign early in the campaign cycle. As John Kerry leaped to a double-digit lead over Bush in the Garden State, the rumors surrounding McGreevey and Kushner were unleashed. Now, with the Governor announcing his resignation amid a gay sex scandal, one is instinctively forced into suspecting the involvement of chief Bush dirty tricks operator Karl Rove in the affair. Rove is attracted to such sordid affairs as a fly is attracted to a pile of horse manure. . . . Republicans in New Jersey are not happy that McGreevey is not resigning until November 15, which means a special election will for New Jersey's governor will not be held on November 2, the same date of the presidential election. It certainly would have been a Rovian tactic to make McGreevey's sexual orientation a campaign issue in order to get out the conservative vote on Election Day in a gambit to increase the right-wing fundamentalist voter turnout for George Bush and appeal to anti-gay conservative Democrats in the state while also hoping to get a Republican into the governor's seat in Trenton. . . . Republicans do not seem satisfied with the normal electoral process but seek ways to upend it. . . . While McGreevey deserves condemnation for allowing his relationship with a foreign national gay partner to influence his decisions and cloud his judgment on important matters dealing with the security of New Jersey during a time of increasing terror threats, he should also be praised for not succumbing to Republican pressure to resign immediately and permit the Karl Rove dirty trick machine to use this tragedy for the McGreevey family to influence in what column New Jersey's 15 electoral votes land in November.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:28 PM
Kerry Will Win - But So What
(Tim Kugel, Rense.com, 8-18-04)
A few reasons - Fait accompli theory: Bush invades and takes oil; Kerry "moves on" and begins draft or "exit plan" (holding strategy like "peace process" or "road map"). Bush's job is over. Well done, sir. . . . Historical - elections of 1824 and 1876 show examples and reasons of why the winner of the contested electoral victory lose in a re election . . . Bush wants out to deal weapons like pop. Well, wouldn't you? Everyone around him is as venal. . . . The public is far to the "left" of the polls--and the elections. Add the 2000 Nader and Gore vote totals, plus the non-votes who are liberal. That is the majority. The mass hysteria and election spin notwithstanding, the public now sees through the Republican Big Lie and may soon distrust the Democrats as much--but not yet. . . . Bush has humiliated the country, helped bankrupt it, shown a light on Halliburton and Enron level corruption, and disappointed Wall Street. He has devalued the trust of the American people in their government to new unexpected low levels (the internet is also responsible for this). His personality is very suspect. . . . a. He has a 'daddy complex' . . . b. He suffered addictions - alcohol, drug - which show inherent instability . . . c. He evidently cannot study complexities without defaulting to religious "instinct" . . . The flaws in Bush are as destructive as the flaws in Saddam Hussein or perhaps reminiscent of Hitler or Stalin. . . . Many big players (GE) want Kerry - big media plays along. Media is already against Bush. The "horse race" will suffice for entertainment and distracting the public - the outcome is known already. . . . The U.S. economic and political system is breaking down; political unrest follows...consider the USSR after Breshnev. One term Presidents are the norm. America thrashes. . . . War is unpopular...there will be no rally for this war. This is not W.W.I. There is no shared sacrifice. There are no billboards advertising the honor or service in Iraq. . . . Economic collapse is unpopular, and transition from an oil economy. . . . The Southern lock is over; bubba's been had. The coalition was based on racism and evangelism, and they are fading as the glue for the Republican South. The vets have been had. The Southern white man has been had. Everybody is mad. . . . The search for a new realignment is upon us. Kevin Phillips would no doubt agree. Pundits say the jewish vote is in play. Politics is involved in immigration as well. . . . Focus groups are very accurate. 2004 is over. But don't look for improvement from Kerry. The same cabal is in charge, they are just switching the deck chairs.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:58 PM
Hip Hop Poetry Slam to Defeat George W. Bush
Slam Bush is a groundbreaking national contest for MCs and Slam Poets that will prevent George W. Bush from snatching another term in office. This summer the nation's most talented battle MCs and Slam Poets will step to the mic in battleground states to call George W. Bush out on his lies. The top lyricists will win cash prizes and earn a chance to perform in front of music industry insiders. Local Slam Bush battles start in August with all roads leading to Miami, where the national champion will be crowned. The crowd favorite at each local Slam Bush event will get $500 and a chance to duke it out for the title and the $5000 cash prize. George Bush, meet Hip Hop.
The Judges: Chuck D., Wordsworth, MEDUSA, Fahiym, Davey D, Supernatural, Will Da Real One, Soulflower, Scratch, Joshua "Fahiym" Ratcliffe
The Hip Hop generation must defeat Bush this November. You can be a part of it. Click the link above to find out how you can get involved in this get out the vote project.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:13 AM
Senator Harkin Calls Cheney A Coward
(Juan Cole, Informed Comment, August 18, 2004)
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has let Dick Cheney have it over Cheney's questioning of John Kerry's ability to understand the war on terrorism--calling the vice president a "coward". CNN quotes him . . . "It just outrages me that someone who got five deferments during Vietnam and said he had 'other priorities' at that time would say that," said the Iowa Democrat, a former Navy fighter pilot . . . The issue first arose when Harkin joined with Des Moines police officials protesting the call-up of a police officer who already had completed his eight year military commitment. Harkin said that it angered him to hear tough talk from Cheney. "When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," said Harkin. "He'll be tough, but he'll be tough with someone else's kid's blood," said Harkin. . . . Presumably Cheney did believe that fighting international Communism was a worthy cause. He did ask for and receive five deferments, one after another. It is clear that he had higher priorities, as he said, than fighting in the Vietnam War. . . . This behavior suggests not necessarily cowardice, but hypocrisy. If he was exercised about a threat, why not go meet it? It could be cowardice, of course. We cannot know for sure. But it was at least hypocrisy. . . . And that is the big difference between Cheney and Bush as wartime leaders on the one hand, and on the other Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Cheney and Bush are diplomatically tone deaf, projecting nothing but arrogance and being all too willing to humiliate traditional allies. They have no sensitivity. And it is for that reason that they have the U.S. stuck in Iraq with only one really significant military ally, the U.K. (the Italians only have 3,000 troops there, and most countries just a few hundred, which makes their presence a token one). They have perhaps permanently alienated all the countries that might have lent the U.S. a hand. . . . And that pattern of arrogant, unilateral war-mongering worries me more than Cheney being a coward. . . . If the Bush/Cheney team gets back in, there will be further wars and massive disturbances to world peace and security, starting with Iran. Maybe the whole doctrine of pre-emptive war is a form of inferiority complex, impelling Cheney to be a strident war-monger to try to vindicate his uninvolved youth. If he was a coward, he may be endangering us all (and especially our teenagers) in a desperate ploy to regain his own manhood.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:07 PM
Harkin calls Cheney a 'coward' and criticizes 'backdoor draft'
(Associated Press, August 14, 2004)
Sen. Tom Harkin called Vice President Dick Cheney a "coward" for avoiding service in Vietnam and called on President Bush to end the "backdoor draft." . . . The Iowa Democrat was responding Friday to the call-up of a Des Moines police officer who has already completed his eight-year military commitment. . . . Harkin echoed comments earlier this week by Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy, who said the military's treatment of Des Moines Police Officer Rodell Nydam was "evil." . . . Nydam, 26, is being called back to Iraq despite finishing his National Guard commitment in April. He's being called up under the military's "stop loss" exemption, which can extend duty in wartime. . . . Harkin, who served as a jet pilot in the Navy, said the exemption wasn't intended for situations like the war in Iraq. He said first responders like Nydam are needed to protect the community. . . . "The part of the U.S. code that provides for this anticipates major wars, major national emergencies," Harkin said. "That is not what we're confronting right now. You think about using this law only in (extreme cases), only when we're really in dire, dire need." . . . Harkin also shot back at Cheney, who said in a visit to Iowa on Tuesday that presidential candidate John Kerry lacks a basic understanding of the war on terrorism and cannot make America safer. . . . He noted that Cheney had several student deferments that allowed him to skip serving in Vietnam. . . . "When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," Harkin said. "Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:41 PM
Ralph Nader's Position on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
According to the Nader campaign:
The letter below to the Anti-Defamation League describes Ralph Nader's position on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by highlighting the voice for peace that he would emphasize when working toward a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
August 5, 2004
Abraham H. Foxman
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Dear Mr. Foxman:
These days all freedom-loving people have much work to do. . . . As you know there is far more freedom in the media, in town squares and among citizens, soldiers, elected representatives and academicians in Israel to debate and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than there is in the United States. Israelis of all backgrounds have made this point. . . . About half of the Israeli people over the years have disagreed with the present Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinian people. Included in this number is the broad and deep Israeli peace movement which mobilized about 120,000 people in a Tel Aviv square recently. . . . Do you agree with their policies and strategy for a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians? Or do you agree with the House Resolution 460 in Congress signed by 407 members of the House to support the Prime Minister's proposal? See attachment re the omission of any reference to a viable Palestinian state generally considered by both Israelis and Palestinians, including those who have worked out accords together, to be a sine qua non for a settlement of this resolvable conflict a point supported by over two-thirds of Americans of the Jewish faith. . . . Enclosed is the "Courage to Refuse Combatant's Letter" signed by hundreds of reserve combat officials and soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces. It is posted on their web at: www.seruv.org.il/defaulteng.asp . One highlight of their statement needs careful consideration: "We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people. We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel's defense. The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose and we shall take no part in them". Do you agree with these patriotic, front line soldiers' observation that Israel is dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people the Palestinian people and that in their words "the Territories are not Israel?" . . . What is your view of Rabbi Lerner's Tikkun's call for peace, along with the proposals of Jewish Voice for Peace, the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Americans for Peace Now? As between the present Israeli government's position on this conflict and the position of these groups, which do you favor and why? . . . Do you share the views in the open letter signed by 400 rabbis, including leaders of some of the largest congregations in our country, sent this March by Rabbis for Human Rights of North America to Ariel Sharon protesting Israel's house-demolition policy? . . . Have you ever disagreed with the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian people in any way, shape or manner in the occupied territories? Do you think that these Semitic peoples have ever suffered from bigotry and devastation by their occupiers in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or inside Israel? If you want a reference here, check the website of the great Israeli human rights group B'T selem. . . . Since you are a man of many opinions, with a specialty focused on the Semitic peoples, explain the United States' support over the decades of authoritarian or dictatorial regimes, in the greater Middle East, over their own people which is fomenting resistance by fundamentalists. . . . These questions have all occurred to you years ago, no doubt. So it would be helpful to receive your views. . . . As for the metaphors - puppeteer and puppets - the Romans had a phrase for the obvious - res ipsa loquitur. The Israelis have a joke for the obvious - that the United States is the second state of Israel. . . . How often, if ever, has the United States - either the Congress or the White House-pursued a course of action, since 1956, that contradicted the Israeli government's position? You do read Ha'aretz, don't you? You know of the group Rabbis for Justice. . . . Finally, treat yourself to a recent column on February 5, 2004 in The New York Times, by Thomas Friedman, an author on Middle East affairs, who has been critical of both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Mr. Friedman writes: Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he's had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who's ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any pressure on Israel in an election year - all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing. . . . These are the words of a double Pulitzer Prize winner. . . . Do you agree with Mr. Friedman's characterization? Sounds like a puppeteer-puppet relationship, doesn't it? Others who are close to this phenomenon have made similar judgments in Israel and in the United States. . . . Keep after bigotry and once in a while help out the Arab Semites when they are struggling against bigotry, discrimination, profiling and race-based hostility in their beloved adopted country - the U.S.A. This would be in accord with your organization's inclusive title.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:03 PM
Speak Out about Swift Boat Veterans' Lies
[COMMENT: As a Viet Nam veteran, I find it abhorrent that some fellow vets would drag our mutual service down into the mud with their ungrounded attacks on John Kerry's service. These attacks on John Kerry are part of a Bush smear campaign against John Kerry; they are financed by Bob Perry, a Texas Republican friend of Karl Rove, and are organized and promoted by a Republican communications firm, Spaeth Communications. The Bush/Cheney gang, with few exceptions, have no experience in wars they have not brought about themselves. I urge all of our readers, no matter who you support in the coming election, to take one or more of the actions suggested at the bottom of this letter. ... Lorenzo]
From the Kerry-Edwards Campaign:
John Kerry's service in Vietnam is under attack by a group of right-wing, Republican-financed veterans who call themselves Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. It's no secret that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is, in fact, Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. It is bankrolled by longtime GOP contributors with strong ties to George Bush and Karl Rove.
Last week, Swift Boat Veterans for Bush purchased air time for a television ad in three battleground states. The ad accuses John Kerry of lying about his service in Vietnam and the medals he was awarded. Next week, Swift Boat Veterans for Bush will release an anti-Kerry book, Unfit for Command, by John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, which spreads more lies and distortions about John's service in Vietnam. To top that off, right-wing talk show radio hosts and TV anchors, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, are knowingly promoting these baseless allegations.
We need you to speak out against the lies and distortions being spread by the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush attack machine.
Senator John McCain called the attacks by Swift Boat Veterans for Bush "dishonest and dishonorable." Senator McCain even called on George Bush to condemn this ad. Regrettably, George Bush has refused to do so.
Virtually every legitimate commentator has denounced these false charges. The St. Petersburg Times in an August 9, 2004, editorial said, "But the latest attack from a Republican-backed political committee seeking to discredit Kerry's Vietnam service is dishonest and indecent." They referred to the attacks against John Kerry as "gutter tactics" and "political filth." Al Hunt wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2004, entitled "Sham Charges Against a War Hero."
We need you to join with John McCain and others and speak out against the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. This is an issue that we, as veterans, need to be heard on. We need to stand up and defend our fellow veteran, our friend, John Kerry.
Here's how you can help John Kerry -- no matter what you decide to do, please make sure to identify yourself as a veteran.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Click here to send your letter right now.
Contact your television state and local reporters. Volunteer your story and your defense. Click here to look up contact information for your area.
Call in to radio talk shows in your area. Click here to look up the information.
After you've written a letter or spoken out, please share your work and experience with us. We will be tracking your grassroots defense nationwide and monitoring its impact -- click here to share your defense with us.
National Director, Veterans for Kerry-Edwards
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posted by Lorenzo 10:48 AM
Bush's Mental Instability Becomes More Pronounced
(Comments from a reporter assigned to the White House press corps., TBRNews.org, August 2, 2004)
Now, it appears that there are at least three stool pigeons loose here and they have brought in the FBI and the Secret Service to do damage control. Bush is almost literally foaming, Karl Rove and other great lights are threatening the Patriot Act against anyone who is caught! “This is a wartime Presidency and anyone passing out secrets will be charged!” is the word. All phones are tapped now and all laptops are rudely grabbed and checked for notes, harmless secretaries are bullied and threatened with lie detector tests. In fact, the Head Monkey now want all White House personnel given lie detector tests every week! . . . I am told they are warning the staff that they either take tests or get fired with vague but sinister warnings about violations of national security and long stretches in cells at Atlanta for those who won’t make things easy and confess. . . . Do you realize that these people are stone nuts? That the President is a nasty, pill-popping sick man who hates everyone and especially anyone who dares to criticize him or any of his policies? At one time, and I have been a witness to this, Bush could be very outgoing and pleasant with staff but not now. Mean looking and snappish with everyone, he uses really filthy language to express his anger. He makes obscene gestures, curses in a loud voice, slams doors, throws books and, once, a paperweight from his desk at a clerk. (He missed) He gobbles pills like Rush Limbaugh and I suspect he is numb most of the time now. The slippery staff’s well-oiled machine is starting to make weird noises and Bush cannot tolerate this. "You told me this would work! Goddam it, you fucked up, you asshole! Get with it or get out!” This nice bit I have on tape. Old Georgie was never too well-wrapped but it was kept quiet. Now that the pressure is really on him and he is beginning to realize that large numbers of Americans actually distrust and dislike him, he was first shocked and later enraged. This man does not belong with the nuclear football anywhere near him. He is basically unbalanced and under so much pressure that God knows what he might do. A young secretary told me that one minute she has seen Bush very smooth, very friendly and very much collected and then, for absolutely no reason she could see, turn instantly into a nasty, shouting man who got very threatening and abusive to a military officer whom, she said, was very correct and polite. This frightened her, the suddenness of it, and what was worse, he suddenly switched back to being a friendly man again. This is not normal behavior.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:33 PM
What Is Bush Planning for the Elections?
(Ray McGovern, BuzzFlash, August 9, 2004)
"Pre-election period ... pre-election plot ... pre-election threats:" These rolled off National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's lips no less than seven times yesterday on CNN's Late Edition as she discussed the likely timing of a terrorist attack. She stayed on message . . . While Iraq generally has moved off the front page, those paying attention to developments there have watched a transition from mayhem to bedlam in recent days. Worse still, the U.S. economy is again faltering as the election draws near. . . . Perhaps most worrisome of all from the administration's point of view are the fresh photos, film footage, and other reporting of torture in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq and elsewhere that will surface in the coming weeks. This round is said to include details of the rape and other abuse of some of the Iraqi women and the hundred or so children--some as young as 10 years old--held in jails like Abu Graib. . . . last week over a hundred lawyers, including seven past presidents of the American Bar Association and former FBI Director William Sessions, issued a statement strongly condemning the legal opinions of government attorneys holding that torture might be legally defensible. . . . With each new revelation of torture, the "few-bad-apples" explanation strains credulity closer to the breaking point. Nor can it be denied that the abuse took place on this administration's watch. . . . What has all this to do with Condoleezza Rice's multiple mention of "pre-election threats?" Can these two dots be connected? I fear they can. . . . When John Ashcroft fired the opening shot in this campaign to raise the specter of a "pre-election" terrorist event, it seemed to me that the administration might be beginning to prepare the American people to accept postponement or cancellation of the November election as a reasonable option. . . . Tom Ridge's warning in early July that Osama bin Laden is "planning to disrupt the November elections" added to my concern, as did; -- Word that Ridge has asked the Department of Justice to analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit postponement of the election; -- The request by the Director of the Election Assistance Commission for Ridge to provide "guidelines" for canceling or rescheduling the election in the event of a terror attack; -- The matter-of-fact tone of a recent vote on CNN's website: "Should the United States postpone the election in the event of a terrorist attack?" That vote seems to have been greeted more by yawns than by any expression of outrage. . . . That the House of Representatives on July 22 passed a resolution by a 419-2 vote denying any agency or individual the authority to postpone a national election suggests that many in Congress are taking the various trial balloons and other hints seriously. . . . How Would Americans React? . . . On Friday I listened to a reporter asking a tourist in Washington, DC, whether he felt inconvenienced by all the blockages and barriers occasioned by the heightened alert. While the tourist acknowledged that the various barriers and inspections made it difficult to get from one place to another, he made his overall reaction quite clear: "Safety first! I don't want to see another 9/11. Whatever it takes!" I was struck a few hours later as I tuned into President Bush speaking at a campaign rally in Michigan: "I will never relent in defending America. Whatever it takes." . . . How prevalent this sentiment has become was brought home to me as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) quizzed 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey (a former Democrat Senator from Nebraska) at a hearing last week on the commission's sweeping recommendation to centralize foreign and domestic intelligence under a new National Intelligence Director in the White House. Kerrey grew quite angry as Kucinich kept insisting on an answer to his question: "How do you protect civil liberties amid such a concentration of information and power?" . . . Kerrey protested that the terrorists give no priority to civil liberties. He went on to say that individual liberties must, in effect, be put on the back burner, while priority is given to combating terrorism. Whatever it takes. . . . Does this not speak volumes? Would Kerrey suggest that Americans act like the "good Germans" of the 1930s, and acquiesce in draconian steps like postponement or cancellation of the November election? . . . These are no small matters. It is high time to think them through.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:45 PM
Senator Dayton: NORAD Lied About 9/11
(Senator Mark Dayton's remarks of July 31, 2004)
[NOTE: Mark Dayton has become the first U.S. senator to challenge the rush to consensus that "The 9/11 Commission Report" settles the open questions of Sept. 11, 2001. . . . In hearings last Friday, Sen. Dayton (D-MN) raised an obvious point: if the timeline of air defense response as promoted in the Kean Commission's best-selling book is correct, then the timeline presented repeatedly by NORAD during the last two years was completely wrong. Yet now no one at NORAD is willing to comment on their own timeline! . . . When the official story of 9/11 can be changed repeatedly without anyone ever being held accountable, we have no right to ever again expect honest government. Please read the following story and do your part to support Sen. Dayton for highlighting the contradiction, and to encourage the media to follow up.]
The original story was delivered by Gen. Richard Myers, the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11. Just two days after the events, Myers appeared before the Senate for hearings, scheduled many weeks earlier, to consider his appointment as the nation's supreme military officer. Myers told the Senate that no fighter jets were scrambled to intercept any of the 9/11 flights until after the Pentagon was struck. . . . The Pentagon attack occurred at 9:38 a.m., a full 1 hour 20 minutes after the first of the 9/11 flights was diverted from its designated flight path. . . . Myers's statement to the Senate was incredible, given the standard U.S. air defense protocols for dealing with errant instrument flights (including off-course passenger planes). In place many years before Sept. 11, these procedures are automatic and require no special order. Within minutes after a flight ceases to respond to ground control, the FAA is expected to alert NORAD - which scrambles jet fighters to intercept the errant flight for reconnaissance purposes. These are supposed to be airborne within 10 minutes of the problem arising. . . . This routine was activated on at least 67 occasions in the year prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Exceptional as the events of 9/11 proved to be, the procedures should have also been activated automatically within minutes of each flight diversion on that day. . . . A partial timeline of U.S. air defense response published on Sept. 18, 2001 presented the times at which NORAD was alerted about each flight diversion by the FAA. In its statement, NORAD claimed to have responded to the alerts by scrambling two squads of interceptors. These, however, never reached any of their targets in time to intercept, let alone prepare for a possible shootdown. . . . As late as May 2003, General Arnold of NORAD, sitting alongside Gen. Myers, presented a slightly revised version of NORAD's Sept. 2001 timeline, in testimony to the Kean Commission. . . . The NORAD timeline indicated that during the crisis hours of 9/11, the FAA became increasingly slower in delivering alerts to NORAD. This seemed to shift the blame for the failed response to the FAA. . . . The FAA, however, disputed Gen. Arnold's testimony with a statement of May 21, 2003. The FAA claimed that regardless of the official notification times claimed by NORAD, phone bridges were established immediately after the initial attack (at 8:46). NORAD was informed in real time throughout of all developments, including about the plane that ultimately hit the Pentagon, the FAA said. . . . the Commission outlined a chronology that completely ditched the timeline that NORAD had upheld for two years. It also effectively placed almost all of the blame for delayed air defense response on the FAA. . . . Gens. Arnold and Myers, who testified to the Commission that same morning, were not held to account for having presented an entirely wrong timeline. Instead, they simply thanked the Kean Commission for clearing up the confusion. In return, one commissioner made a point of telling the generals they were not to blame; after all, it was all the FAA's fault! . . . A group of FAA officials who testified in the subsequent, final session stuck by their old defense that they had in fact provided adequate and timely information to NORAD via the phone bridges. As the hearings concluded, they still disputed both timelines: the old one from NORAD, and the new one from the Kean Commission. . . . Now that the Kean Commission has published the new timeline in its final report, these contradictions must not be simply swept under the rug. Either the Kean Commission is wrong, or else NORAD was pushing a flawed timeline for more than two years. Either way, the FAA story still differs from both. . . . There can be no excuses. Those responsible for dispensing false information must be held accountable, or else nothing in the behavior of government is likely ever to improve. . . . During the hearing, Dayton told leaders of the Sept. 11 commission, that, based on the commission's report, a NORAD chronology made public a week after the attacks was grossly misleading. The chronology said the FAA notified the military's emergency air command of three of the hijackings while those jetliners were still airborne. Dayton cited commission findings that the FAA failed to inform NORAD about three of the planes until after they had crashed. . . . And, he said, a squadron of NORAD fighter planes that was scrambled was sent east over the Atlantic Ocean and was 150 miles from Washington, D.C., when the third plane struck the Pentagon -- "farther than they were before they took off." . . . Dayton said NORAD officials "lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 commission to create a false impression of competence, communication and protection of the American people." He told Kean and Hamilton that if the commission's report is correct, President Bush "should fire whoever at FAA, at NORAD ... betrayed their public trust by not telling us the truth."
[We encourage you all to write and call Sen. Dayton's office to offer your support:]
Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
United States Senate
346 Russell Senate Office Building
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM
Bush Admits Devious Intent
(Associated Press, August 5, 2004)
President Bush offered up a new entry for his catalog of "Bushisms" on Thursday, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people." . . . Bush misspoke [COMMENT: A Freudian slip perhaps?] as he delivered a speech at the signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense spending bill. . . . "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." . . . No one in Bush’s audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted. [... because they knew it to be the truth?]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:51 PM