Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Spies, Lies and Wiretaps......Welcome to Amerika

Spies, Lies and Wiretaps
Published: January 29, 2006

A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.



Sept. 11 could have been prevented. This is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking. The same officials who now say 9/11 could have been prevented said at the time that no one could possibly have foreseen the attacks. We keep hoping that Mr. Bush will finally lay down the bloody banner of 9/11, but Karl Rove, who emerged from hiding recently to talk about domestic spying, made it clear that will not happen — because the White House thinks it can make Democrats look as though they do not want to defend America. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," he told Republican officials. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Mr. Rove knows perfectly well that no Democrat has ever said any such thing — and that nothing prevented American intelligence from listening to a call from Al Qaeda to the United States, or a call from the United States to Al Qaeda, before Sept. 11, 2001, or since. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act simply required the government to obey the Constitution in doing so. And FISA was amended after 9/11 to make the job much easier.

Only bad guys are spied on. Bush officials have said the surveillance is tightly focused only on contacts between people in this country and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed it saved thousands of lives by preventing attacks. But reporting in this paper has shown that the National Security Agency swept up vast quantities of e-mail messages and telephone calls and used computer searches to generate thousands of leads. F.B.I. officials said virtually all of these led to dead ends or to innocent Americans. The biggest fish the administration has claimed so far has been a crackpot who wanted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch — a case that F.B.I. officials said was not connected to the spying operation anyway.

The spying is legal. The secret program violates the law as currently written. It's that simple. In fact, FISA was enacted in 1978 to avoid just this sort of abuse. It said that the government could not spy on Americans by reading their mail (or now their e-mail) or listening to their telephone conversations without obtaining a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The court has approved tens of thousands of warrants over the years and rejected a handful.

As amended after 9/11, the law says the government needs probable cause, the constitutional gold standard, to believe the subject of the surveillance works for a foreign power or a terrorist group, or is a lone-wolf terrorist. The attorney general can authorize electronic snooping on his own for 72 hours and seek a warrant later. But that was not good enough for Mr. Bush, who lowered the standard for spying on Americans from "probable cause" to "reasonable belief" and then cast aside the bedrock democratic principle of judicial review.

Just trust us. Mr. Bush made himself the judge of the proper balance between national security and Americans' rights, between the law and presidential power. He wants Americans to accept, on faith, that he is doing it right. But even if the United States had a government based on the good character of elected officials rather than law, Mr. Bush would not have earned that kind of trust. The domestic spying program is part of a well-established pattern: when Mr. Bush doesn't like the rules, he just changes them, as he has done for the detention and treatment of prisoners and has threatened to do in other areas, like the confirmation of his judicial nominees. He has consistently shown a lack of regard for privacy, civil liberties and judicial due process in claiming his sweeping powers. The founders of our country created the system of checks and balances to avert just this sort of imperial arrogance.

The rules needed to be changed. In 2002, a Republican senator — Mike DeWine of Ohio — introduced a bill that would have done just that, by lowering the standard for issuing a warrant from probable cause to "reasonable suspicion" for a "non-United States person." But the Justice Department opposed it, saying the change raised "both significant legal and practical issues" and may have been unconstitutional. Now, the president and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are telling Americans that reasonable suspicion is a perfectly fine standard for spying on Americans as well as non-Americans — and they are the sole judges of what is reasonable.

So why oppose the DeWine bill? Perhaps because Mr. Bush had already secretly lowered the standard of proof — and dispensed with judges and warrants — for Americans and non-Americans alike, and did not want anyone to know.

War changes everything. Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the authority to do anything he wanted when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan. There is simply nothing in the record to support this ridiculous argument.

The administration also says that the vote was the start of a war against terrorism and that the spying operation is what Mr. Cheney calls a "wartime measure." That just doesn't hold up. The Constitution does suggest expanded presidential powers in a time of war. But the men who wrote it had in mind wars with a beginning and an end. The war Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney keep trying to sell to Americans goes on forever and excuses everything.

Other presidents did it. Mr. Gonzales, who had the incredible bad taste to begin his defense of the spying operation by talking of those who plunged to their deaths from the flaming twin towers, claimed historic precedent for a president to authorize warrantless surveillance. He mentioned George Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These precedents have no bearing on the current situation, and Mr. Gonzales's timeline conveniently ended with F.D.R., rather than including Richard Nixon, whose surveillance of antiwar groups and other political opponents inspired FISA in the first place. Like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Bush is waging an unpopular war, and his administration has abused its powers against antiwar groups and even those that are just anti-Republican.



The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to start hearings on the domestic spying. Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.

The Fear That Kills.

By Marjorie Cohn, TruthOut.org. Poste
d January 31, 2006.


Appalling new evidence reveals that female soldiers serving in Iraq made fatal decisions in their attempts to avoid rape.

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview.

It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

"And rather than make everybody aware of that -- because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader -- what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore."

For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights.

Sanchez's attitude was: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory," Karpinski quoted him as saying. Karpinski told me that Sanchez, who was her boss, was very sensitive to the political ramifications of everything he did. She thinks it likely that when the information about the cause of these women's deaths was passed to the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld ordered that the details not be released. "That's how Rumsfeld works," she said.

"It was out of control," Karpinski told a group of students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law last October. There was an 800 number women could use to report sexual assaults. But no one had a phone, she added. And no one answered that number, which was based in the United States. Any woman who successfully connected to it would get a recording. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hot line was still answered by a machine that told callers to leave a message.

"There were countless such situations all over the theater of operations -- Iraq and Kuwait -- because female soldiers didn't have a voice, individually or collectively," Karpinski told Hackworth. "Even as a general I didn't have a voice with Sanchez, so I know what the soldiers were facing. Sanchez did not want to hear about female soldier requirements and/or issues."

Karpinski was the highest officer reprimanded for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, although the details of interrogations were carefully hidden from her. Demoted from Brigadier General to Colonel, Karpinski feels she was chosen as a scapegoat because she was a female.

Sexual assault in the US military has become a hot topic in the last few years, "not just because of the high number of rapes and other assaults, but also because of the tendency to cover up assaults and to harass or retaliate against women who report assaults," according to Kathy Gilberd, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild's Military Law Task Force.

This problem has become so acute that the Army has set up its own sexual assault web site.

In February 2004, Rumsfeld directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to undertake a 90-day review of sexual assault policies. "Sexual assault will not be tolerated in the Department of Defense," Rumsfeld declared.

The 99-page report was issued in April 2004. It affirmed, "The chain of command is responsible for ensuring that policies and practices regarding crime prevention and security are in place for the safety of service members." The rates of reported alleged sexual assault were 69.1 and 70.0 per 100,000 uniformed service members in 2002 and 2003. Yet those rates were not directly comparable to rates reported by the Department of Justice, due to substantial differences in the definition of sexual assault.

Notably, the report found that low sociocultural power (i.e., age, education, race/ethnicity, marital status) and low organizational power (i.e., pay grade and years of active duty service) were associated with an increased likelihood of both sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The Department of Defense announced a new policy on sexual assault prevention and response on January 3, 2005. It was a reaction to media reports and public outrage about sexual assaults against women in the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing sexual assaults and cover-ups at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, Gilberd said. As a result, Congress demanded that the military review the problem, and the Defense Authorization Act of 2005 required a new policy be put in place by January 1.

The policy is a series of very brief "directive-type memoranda" for the Secretaries of the military services from the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "Overall, the policy emphasizes that sexual assault harms military readiness, that education about sexual assault policy needs to be increased and repeated, and that improvements in response to sexual assaults are necessary to make victims more willing to report assaults," Gilberd notes. "Unfortunately," she added "analysis of the issues is shallow, and the plans for addressing them are limited."

Commands can reject the complaints if they decide they aren't credible, and there is limited protection against retaliation against the women who come forward, according to Gilberd. "People who report assaults still face command disbelief, illegal efforts to protect the assaulters, informal harassment from assaulters, their friends or the command itself," she said.

But most shameful is Sanchez's cover-up of the dehydration deaths of women that occurred in Iraq. Sanchez is no stranger to outrageous military orders. He was heavily involved in the torture scandal that surfaced at Abu Ghraib. Sanchez approved the use of unmuzzled dogs and the insertion of prisoners head-first into sleeping bags after which they are tied with an electrical cord and their are mouths covered. At least one person died as the result of the sleeping bag technique. Karpinski charges that Sanchez attempted to hide the torture after the hideous photographs became public.

Sanchez reportedly plans to retire soon, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune earlier this month. But Rumsfeld recently considered elevating the 3-star general to a 4-star. The Tribune also reported that Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the Army's chief spokesman, said in an email message, "The Army leaders do have confidence in LTG Sanchez."

The right to refuse: this is the battle ....

Republicans are pushing their agenda by any means necessary into one of the most sacred and intimate rights of Americans: the right to seek health care.

Social conservatives are taking their dangerous, Puritanical inability to deal with sexuality issues and manifesting this insecurity into legislation that is hurting America in the most explicit way possible. New legislation is being considered in 18 states and counting to allow health care providers to refuse care based on their religious beliefs:

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.

This is problematic for several reasons:

1) That “morning-after” pills cause abortions is not a religious belief: it is a demonstrably incorrect fact.
2) This is the Republicans’ skeleton key to unlock a Pandora’s box of discrimination against minorities of all kinds. This is the full-court press that could make by de facto reality what conservatives have been unable to do by law.

We’re turning the clock back to the ‘50’s and even further. What if the Grand Wizard becomes the only pharmacist in Middletown, Kansas? What if his religious beliefs strictly prohibit filling prescriptions for the ‘racially impure?’ This slope is beyond slippery: it’s a runaway freight train barreling off a cliff.

This could also enable the kind of grassroots revolution that conservatives have in the past been forced to manufacture: it plays to the lowest instincts of every citizen in America.

The Old Testament could become the health care law of the land in Red states
. It could push back life-saving advances and thus cost the lives of thousands.

This time they’re fortifying the barriers of care to the GTLB community with reinforced titanium.

This also highlights another prime controversy in sex policy: the “morning-after” pill (appropriately renamed the ECP, or Emergency Contraceptive Pill, for many reasons) must be made available over-the-counter. It still requires a prescription only because of the lowest and most undemocratic of Republican tactics. http://www.ioerror.us/2005/11/15/gao-fdas-plan-b-ruling-not-based-on-science/

That it is illegal is one of the brashest examples of the sheer idiocy and irrationality of social conservatives: if unprotected sex happens, or a condom breaks, the ECP is the last recourse for women to stop a pregnancy. Republicans figure that restricting ECP will mean that women will just have the child.

NEWS FLASH: This just means that more women will be having abortions. The more that conservatives restrict access to birth control, the more abortions will happen. It’s a simple equation: REPUBLICAN POLICY CAUSES ABORTIONS.

Making the ECP over-the-counter and truly accessible could conceivably prevent the majority of abortions in this country. http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_emer0.htm

Rather than making it over-the-counter, this pill could be made de facto illegal for much of the population. If it’s not taken within five days of intercourse it is extremely unreliable, and the above proposed laws would allow pharmacists to virtually eliminate access to the ECP, especially in rural areas.

Overall, these laws represent a major front in the battle between common sense policy that helps society and the most Americans, and the rule of a narrow, Puritanical minority moral code holding sway over the majority of Americans.

Join the fight and do not let Republicans make an end-run around the Constitution.

Posted by Matt Won at January 30, 2006 05:26 PM | Comment (1) Trackback (0)

Monday, January 30, 2006

FEMA Disaster

How can anyone call the reaction of Bush's FEMA to Katrina mere incompetence? see here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/01/30/katrina.fema More heads should roll for this, Brownie did not fuck FEMA up on his own.

Federal emergency officials failed to accept offers of possibly life-saving aid from the Department of Interior immediately after Hurricane Katrina, according to documents obtained by CNN.

The Interior Department offered the Federal Emergency Management Agency the use of personnel who were experienced in water rescues and also offered boats, helicopters, heavy equipment and rooms, the documents say.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of a Senate committee with jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, said the additional resources may have saved lives. (Watch how FEMA brushed off offers of help -- 2:14)

"It is indeed possible that there was additional suffering and maybe even loss of life that might not have occurred if these assets had been deployed
," Collins said.

[snip]

The Interior Department offered FEMA 500 rooms, 119 pieces of heavy equipment, 300 dump trucks and other vehicles, 300 boats, 11 aircraft and 400 law enforcement officers, according to a questionnaire answered by a department official.

Interior law enforcement officers included special agents and refuge officers from the department's Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Although we attempted to provide these assets, we were unable to efficiently integrate and deploy these resources," an Interior Department official wrote the Senate committee investigating the government's response to Katrina.

Collins said she is particularly concerned by the fact that the offer of help was from the federal government.

"Now, you might be able to understand if it came from outside government," she said. "But this is another federal agency, an agency that was offering trained personnel and exactly the assets that the federal government needed to assist in the search-and-rescue operations."

According to government officials, 1,322 people died from Katrina, all but 15 of the deaths occurring in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Senate committee released e-mails that document FEMA's decision to ground its search-and-rescue teams three days after Katrina because of security concerns.

Before then, the Interior Department had offered FEMA hundreds of law enforcement officers trained in search-and-rescue, emergency medical services and evacuation, according to the documents.

"The Department of the Interior was not called upon to assist until late September," the Interior official writes.

Senator Reid Pre-SOTU

Floor Remarks by Senator Reid, as prepared for delivery Monday, January 30, 2006

Tomorrow night, President Bush will come to the Capitol and deliver his fifth State of the Union Address. It is an important moment for President Bush and America. In fact, this may be the most difficult speech the President will ever give.

The president comes to the Capitol in the midst of the greatest culture of corruption since Watergate. Republican corruption has destroyed the public’s trust in our government and taken a great toll on the state of our union.

In his speech, it will be up to President Bush to show he is committed to restoring the bonds of trust and repairing the damage done by Republican corruption.

Americans know our country can do better than today, and after the year we just had – a year of Katrina, unending violence in Iraq, Terri Schiavo, Social Security Privatization, Harriet Meirs, the Medicare mess – Americans will no longer be willing to blindly accept the President’s promises and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Americans will be looking past the President’s rhetoric tomorrow night and taking a hard look at the results he intends to deliver.

The President’s State of the Union speech is a credibility test.

Will he acknowledge the real state of our union and offer to take our country down a path that unites us and makes us stronger?

Or will he give us more of the same empty promises and partisanship that have weakened our country and divided Americans for the last five years?

If he takes the first approach, together, we can build a stronger America.

If he gives us more of the same, we’ll know he intends to spend 2006 putting his political fortunes ahead of America’s future.

America needs a fresh start, and I hope President Bush realizes that Tuesday night. There is so much more at stake in this speech than the President’s poll numbers.

Empty promises will no longer cut it.

We need a credible roadmap for our future. And we need the President to tell us how together, we can achieve the better America that we all envision.

Our first signal that the president intends to move our country forward will come in his assessment of the state of our union.

It’s not credible for the President to suggest the state of our union is as strong as it should be.

The fact is, America can do better. From health care to national security, Republican corruption has taken its toll on our country, and we can see it in the state of our union.

We are less safe in the world than we were four and half years ago, because the White House has decided protecting its political power is more important than protecting the American people.

We are the wealthiest nation on earth, but not the healthiest, because Republicans in Congress have decided to take care of Big Drug Companies and HMOs instead of the 46 million uninsured.

We have a national debt climbing past 8 trillion dollars, because the president squandered the strongest economy of our lifetime with reckless spending and irresponsible tax breaks for special interests and multi-millionaires.

We have an addiction to foreign oil that has climbed steadily and doubled the price of heat and gas since late 2001, because the Vice President let Big Oil companies write our energy policy.

And we have too many middle-class families living on a financial cliff, because Republican economic policies place the needs of the wealthy and well-connected ahead of working Americans.

If President Bush is committed to making America stronger, he will acknowledge these facts. He will admit the steep price Americans have paid for Republican corruption, and he will proceed to tell us how he will make our country stronger.

Our second clue that President Bush is committed to moving America forward will come in his remarks about national security.

Tomorrow night, it’s not credible for the President to tell us that he has done all he can to keep America safe for the last five years and that he should be allowed to proceed down the same path unchecked.

The truth is exactly the opposite. For all his tough talk, President Bush’s policies have made America less safe.

His failed record speaks for itself.

Osama bin Laden – the man who attacked us on 9/11 - remains on the loose, because – in his rush to invade Iraq - the President took his eye of the ball when we had bin Laden cornered in Afghanistan. As a result, Bin Laden escaped and continues to threaten us today.

Then, there’s the President’s Axis of Evil.

Four years ago, the President declared Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an “axis of evil,” whose nuclear threats posed a risk to the American people. He was right. But, instead of pursuing the correct policies to make us safe, he invaded Iraq. Now, two members of the axis of evil – North Korea and Iran – are more dangerous, and – after spending billions of dollars and losing 2300 American lives – we’ve found out the third – Iraq – didn’t pose a nuclear threat.

Then, there’s what this president has done to our military.

Not only has the president failed to properly equip our troops for battle, but he’s also stretched the force entirely too thin.

Mr. President, the national security failures go on and on.

The President’s poor planning and refusal to change course in Iraq has made progress in 2006 harder to achieve…

As Katrina made clear, he failed to prepare our homeland for a possible attack following 9/11.

And the President has made it more difficult to spread democracy around the world, because he’s been undermining it at home - - - through his executive power grabs and his “trust me its legal” approach to the NSA domestic eavesdropping program.

America can do better.

Tomorrow night, we need the President to rally the country around our most important goal – protecting our people and way of life.

Democrats have always been willing to work with President Bush to make America more secure.

Tuesday, it’s not enough for the President to display the swagger of the Campaigner in Chief. We need to see honesty and candor from the Commander in Chief.

Our third signal that President Bush understands what it will take to make the state of our union strong will come when he talks about health care.

Because of the President’s inaction on health care for the last five years, America faces a health care crisis of staggering proportions. We have 46 million Americans uninsured. The cost of health care premiums has almost doubled since 2001. Companies like Ford and GM are finding it difficult to compete in the world because they’re crippled by skyrocketing health care costs.

With a record like that, it’s not credible for the President to claim he has a vision to make health care affordable. He needs to present us new ideas that will move America forward, not trot out the same tired, old policies that serve special interests and not the American people.

From press reports, I fear we will only hear tired, old ideas, like the President’s plan for Health Savings Accounts.

Health Savings Accounts - - that’s classic Bush doublespeak, and it’s not a credible solution to the health care crisis. Here’s all you need to know about HSAs – you’ll pay more and get less.

This plan is another giveaway to the same people the president has favored over hard working Americans for the last five years.

In fact, remember Social Security privatization? HSAs are a lot like that. They do nothing to solve the real problem. They make the situation worse for the American people. And they create a financial windfall for the President’s friends.

We don’t need to hear the President to offer more of the same on health care.

What we need is a new direction - one that puts families first.

Democrats believe that addressing the health care crisis is not just a moral imperative, but it’s also vital to our economic security and leadership in the world. Every day we go without reform is another day America takes a step backward from its position as a global leader. For our families, we must make health care affordable and accessible. For our businesses, we must remove the burden of skyrocketing costs that is holding our businesses, our economy and our workers back in the global marketplace.

Our fourth clue that President Bush knows what America needs will come in his remarks about the economy.

After all we’ve seen in the last five years, it will not be credible for the President to claim that our economy is growing… that his “plan” to reduce “his” deficits is working… and that Congress is to blame for overspending and bad decision making.

The truth is, the fiscal nightmare we see today belongs to President Bush and President Bush alone.

Here’s another doublespeak we’re likely to hear tomorrow night – the Bush Competitive Agenda.

This president can talk all he wants about making America competitive, but for five years, he’s done nothing to keep America in the game.

From what we’ve read in the press, this plan sounds like more empty rhetoric from a president that has spent five years slashing the funding we need to stay on the cutting edge.

President Bush has shut the doors of college to thousands of students by supporting the largest student aid cut in history.

He’s allowed our country to fall further behind our trading partners.

And he’s lavished billion on Big Oil, instead of investing in American technology and know-how that would make us energy independent.

We need to hear new economic ideas.

The President needs to tell us how he’s going to stop increasing the debt and start paying it down, so our children and grandchildren don’t pay the price for his reckless fiscal record.

We need to hear how he’s going to help middle-class families deal with rising energy prices.

And we need him to speak honestly about tax relief.

Here’s the truth about the Bush tax breaks. Multi-millionaires stand to receive over 100,000 dollars, while the average working family will receive less than 1,000 dollars.

The President’s priorities are upside down. It’s time for him to join Democrats and bring fairness to our tax code.

Democrats are ready to work with President Bush, but he needs to commit to policies that put the needs of hardworking Americans first.

Our final signal that President Bush is committed to making America stronger will come on the issue of reform.

Because of connections to the culture of corruption and stonewalling about Jack Abramoff, it is not credible for President Bush to claim the moral high ground on values and honest government.

President Bush needs to set an example if he’s going to lead our country forward. He needs to come clean about his connections to corruption and join Democrats in uniting behind the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, introduced in the Senate two weeks ago.

Too many Republicans have shown in recent days that they are more interested in throwing mud and obscuring the facts, than cleaning up Washington. If our country is going to make progress in 2006, President Bush needs to set them straight.

Democrats have a plan to reform Washington. We’re trying to bring it to the Senate Floor for an up-or-down vote. Unfortunately, the Republican Majority is blocking our effort.

If President Bush is going to pass the credibility test tomorrow night, he needs to direct the Republican leadership of the House and the Senate to make real, meaningful reform the first item of business next week.

It’s so important that President Bush lead by example. Remember, it’s Republicans – not Democrats – who have abandoned values like community and opportunity, and embraced vices like greed and arrogance instead.

It’s Republicans who control the White House, where men are willing to break the law and ignore America’s best interest so they can protect their political power.

It’s Republicans on K-Street who have conspired with lawmakers to put the well-connected first.

And it’s Republicans who control the Congress, which has sold its soul to special interests and the Republican right-wing base, a base that has its sights set on stacking our courts with extremist judges.

Tomorrow night, the president will undoubtedly praise the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito.

Let me be clear: Democrats stand united against Judge Alito because he too protects special interests over America’s interest and has failed to demonstrate that he will be a check on presidential power.

Mr. President, the President faces a tremendous test tomorrow night.

It’s up to him to prove to the American people that he intends to denounce the culture of corruption and change direction in 2006.

Democrats are ready to work with President Bush in order move our country forward, because we believe that together, America can do better.

Tomorrow night, I hope President Bush will join us in putting progress ahead of politics, so we can have a state of the union as honest and strong as the American people.

ASSCLOWNS OF THE WEEK

Please visit this blog to see Assclowns of the Week!

http://jurassicpork.blogspot.com/2006/01/assclowns-of-week-civil-disobedience.html

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bartlett's Quotations

www.jameswolcott.com
Posted by James Wolcott

Ah, sweet irony of life. It was less than three years ago that Bruce Bartlett, a supply-side economist who's held a bouquet of policy-adviser positions, was writing columns trying to dump ice water on the "angry," "inflammatory," "apoplectic" Paul Krugman. But last October Bartlett, a sure-as-shootin' Reagan conservative, was hustled to the exit from his post at the National Center for Policy Analysis for impure thoughts and words that violated the rightwing think-tank's canon.

Next month will see the publication of his new book about Bush's superbad economic policy, and, my my, does much of it sound Krugmanesque, an adjective that I consider a compliment. Bartlett emerges from these pages drenched in an auburn shade of Bitter Disillusionment, and the title alone tells you how fed-up, cheesed-off, and ready to bring on the funk he is:

Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy

Four presidents dominate this book: Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush the Son. And the thesis of the book is that Bush is much closer to Nixon than Reagan, and that conservatives have reason to rue that they ever mau-mau'd Clinton about Monica. An unharassed, unbesieged Clinton might have truly reformed Social Security in his second term, according to Bartlett. The Monica follies made that impossible. Yet history will record that in economic Clinton was the far more prudent, serious, and conscientious leader.

"I think it is telling that Bush’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, was far better on the budget than he has been. Clinton vetoed bills because they spent too much. Bush never does. Clinton not only reduced the deficit, but he actually cut spending. Bush has increased both. Clinton abolished an entitlement program. Bush created an extremely expensive new one. One can still argue about whether Clinton was a better president or a better man than Bush, but on the budget there is no ambiguity. Clinton was much better."

[snip]

"...Opinions about Richard Nixon are much different today than when he left office, with many liberals who hated him at the time now viewing his domestic policies in a much more favorable light. Something similar is under way with regard to Bill Clinton. Many conservatives who thought he was the devil incarnate when he was in the White House are now inclined to look upon his domestic policies more favorably. The key reason for this reassessment has been the extremely poor record of George W. Bush on the budget from the point of view of conservatives. In light of Bush’s big-spending ways, Clinton now looks almost like another Calvin Coolidge. As a friend once noted about disco music, it seemed so bad at the time because it was being compared to the golden age of rock and roll that had come before it. But by comparison to the awful music that came afterward, disco sounds pretty good today. So too with conservatives and Clinton. Compared to Ronald Reagan, he was awful. Compared to George W. Bush, he looks a lot better."


Compared to Bush, he looks like a competent, responsible, functioning adult. And I suspect that by 2008 a lot of Republicans are going to be secretly hankering for a Hillary presidency to put Bush's manifold wrongs right. As for the Bush Legacy, Bartlett speculates:

"I think [Republicans] will eventually think of Bush the way earlier Republicans thought of Nixon—as someone who severely undermined the party and its principles just to get reelected. Not only did Nixon come close to exterminating the Republican Party with Watergate, he put in place policies that continue to burden the economy to this day—all to win one lousy election in 1972. I think Bush and his congressional enablers basically did the same thing in 2004. Bush’s motives may have been higher than Nixon’s—Bush believes he is fighting a holy war against terrorism, whereas Nixon was simply selfish—but the results may be the same.
"
01.24.06 8:04PM

The New Fascism

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
www.truthout.org
Tuesday 17 January 2006

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

- Abraham Lincoln
Say "fascism" to anyone you meet, and you will conjure images of coal-scuttle helmets, of Nazi boot-heels clicking in terrible unison down Berlin streets during dark days that only a few remaining among the living remember. Each day, members of the generation that heard those heels for themselves go into the ground, taking with them whispered words of warning. I saw it for myself, they whisper before they pass. See this tattooed number? See this scar? It happened. It was real.

Say "fascism" to anyone you meet, and you will be greeted with the boilerplate response of the blithely overconfident: such a thing cannot happen here. This is the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave. Ours is a nation of laws, of checks and balances, of righteousness and decency. Our laws and traditions stand as a bulwark against the rise of totalitarian madness. It cannot happen here. Thus we are indoctrinated into the school of our own assumed greatness.

"We must disenthrall ourselves," said Abraham Lincoln, and so we must, because it can happen here. It is already happening. All the parroted recitations of grade school civics cannot erase the fact that a new order is rising. Call it "secret fascism" or "smiley-faced fascism." Call it a quiet dictatorship. Call it what you like, but it is here with us in America today, and it is growing.

To be sure, there are no coal-scuttle helmets lined in ranks down our broad avenues, no Tonton Macoute savaging dissidents, no Khmer Rouge slaughtering intellectuals and herding citizens from cities to die by the millions on roads littered with skulls. The core strength of our new fascism is that it speaks softly. It does not present itself in such an obvious way that those who subsist on the dogmas of our greatness can point and say there, there it is, I see it.

This new fascism is not fed only by lies, though to be sure the lies are there in preposterous abundance. This new fascism is fed by myths, our myths, the myths by which we rock ourselves to sleep. This new fascism is in truth an elemental fascism, reborn today by a confluence of events; the diligent work of the few, in combination with the passivity of the many, have brought forth this new order.

The writer Umberto Eco, in a 1995 essay titled "Ur-Fascism," delineated several core elements that have existed in one form or another in every fascist state in history: "Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten, because it does not represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader. Doctrine outstrips reason, and science is always suspect. The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies. Argument is tantamount to treason. Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear. Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of 'the people' in the grand opera that is the state."

Take these one at a time.

"Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten, because it does not represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader."

George W. Bush has all but gelded Congress in recent months, attaching so-called "signing statements" to a variety of laws, which state that the president may act beyond the laws whenever he so chooses. The United States, fashioned as a republic, has as its voice the congressional body. This is all but finished. To cement his victory over the parliamentary system, Bush has put forth one Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, a man who believes in the ultimate power of the one leader over the many. The gelded congress does not appear able to keep this man from the high court, thus rendering the balancing branches of government into a satellite system of the Executive.

"Doctrine outstrips reason, and science is always suspect."

The supremacy of religious fundamentalism within and without government carries this banner before all others. What is reason in the face of the zealot's faith? Science has become a watered-down vessel for Intelligent Design, and the incontrovertible truths of empirical data are slapped aside. Spencer Tracy, in the film "Inherit the Wind," bellows the warning here: "Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, backward, through the glorious ages of that sixteenth century, when bigots burned the man who dared to bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind."

"The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies."

This has been with us for generations now. Our nation defined ourselves through a comparison to the Nazis, to the Imperial Japanese, and then through decades of comparison to Communism. Terrorism has supplanted all of these, hammered into place on a Tuesday in September by the actions of madmen. We are not them, all is justified in the struggle against them, and so we are defined.

"Argument is tantamount to treason."

All one need do to see this in action is spend some hours with the Fox News channel. Freedom fries. Why do you hate America? You are with us or you are with the terrorists. Watch what you say.

"Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear."

The manipulation of this population by fear has been ham-fisted, to be sure, but has also been cruelly effective. We do not want the evidence to be a mushroom cloud. Weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda in Iraq. Nuclear designs in Iran. Plastic sheeting and duct tape. Orange alert. Argument becomes tantamount to treason simply because everyone has been made to feel fear at all times. A frightened populace is easily governed, and governs itself; this lesson was well-learned in the duck-and-cover days of the Cold War. Those lessons have been masterfully applied once again. Today, the citizenry polices itself, and the herd moves as one body. Even the surveillance of innocent citizens by the state is brushed off as a necessary evil. Remember: you are being watched.

"Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of 'the people' in the grand opera that is the state."

Once, we lived by the glorious simplicity of the vote. Casting a ballot was the single most patriotic duty a citizen could perform, an affirmation of all we held dear and true. Today, we live in the nation of the vanishing voter. Power has been so far removed from the people by those with money and influence that most see voting as a waste of time. Add to this the growing control of the implements of voting and vote-counting by partisan corporations, and the rule of We the People is left in ashes.

We must disenthrall ourselves from the idea that our institutions, our traditions, the barriers that protect us from absolute and authoritarian powers, cannot be broken down. They are being dismantled a brick at a time. The separation of powers has already been annihilated. It is a whispered fascism, not yet marching down your street or pounding upon your door in the dead of night. But it is here, and it is laying deep roots. We must listen beyond the whispered fascism of today to the shouted fascism of tomorrow. We must look beyond the lies and the myths, beyond the dogmas by which we sleep.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

ROE V. WADE

As a certain Congressman put it, for social conservatives, "life begins at conception and ends at birth." There is no such thing as a "culture of life." There is my life, and your life.
If one who believes that life begins at conception is genuinely pro-life, then, accordingly, that person, while he or she may not support the idea of, I don't know - alleviating child malnutrition, stopping child abuse committed at his or her own hands, efforts made to increase the quality of neonatal care and pre-K education - , one would think that, at least, such a person would not be demonically opposed to private charities that are in favor of such things.

I fear what's being aborted is a little tadger named "Democracy." If the government can interfere with a decision between a woman and her doctor then essentially they have "eminent domained" her uterus. And because the fallout from Roe v Wade being overturned will mostly impact poor and middle class women, there is an almost feudal aspect to this whole story. Hillary may have sounded like a doofus when she invoked the "plantation" meme (and I think you know what I mean) but that's where people without money are going to be living. I wish to God that Jesus would just come back and give some more lectures, maybe set a few people straight--maybe even appear on a panel with Buddha, Mohammed, Shakti, Vishnu, Coyote...but I digress. A woman who does not have sovereignty over her own body is not a free woman. End of story.

Please read this article: http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2006/01/26/why-i-support-roe-vs-wade/

Next thought:
Astonishingly, though, such charities, which bear so much of the grunt work as far as performing these activities are concerned, are scolded by the social rights because they are - well, you know, terrorist fellaters and liberals.

So what does the social right do in its spare time to improve the quality of "life" for children? It tells them that there is only one way of learning things, that there is only one way of thinking, that they should be ashamed of their bodies, that people different than them should be hated for their mere existence, and so on, while it provides whatever social services it provides. In other words, it devalues life under guise of honoring it.

The social right's claim to being "pro-life" would also sound less disingenuous if it were not the case that it is conservatives more than Democrats who are responsible for the stigma society places on adoption and single motherhood. Conservatives claim that an unwanted child can always be adopted or raised alone - but these folks constantly rail on about how the non-nuclear family has led to the disintegration of America. In other words, people's respect for life=people's disrespect for life. Orwellian newspeak.

And as far as "abstinence only" education goes, if one is convinced that it is the "right" policy (morally), as well as the one that will lead to the "right" result (no unwanted children) (never mind that history has put the lie to this notion), then why not let the concept speak for itself, instead of trying to shut the sex-education crowd up and vilify them? As any Constitution lover knows, the answer to speech of which one disapproves is more speech, not hate.

The most disingenuous thing about the "pro-life" movement, at large, is this: many, if not most, of its members - at least those concerned with Republican party politics and strategy - are scared to death that Roe v. Wade will be overruled. Why? Because the Republicans have used the case as a wedge issue, year after year, to polarize the country, and have won elections in doing so. If the case were overruled, the true believer single-issue voters, their objective having been realized, would actually be forced to take a look at the rest of the Republican party's platform. Ken Mehlman does NOT want that. And, given that the country supports the Roe decision, 66 to 25%, if it were overruled, the party will experience quite a backlash.

As a practical matter, overruling the case may not have many significant consequences. The states that would, if the case were overruled, ban abortion, have already made it all but impossible to obtain one within their borders already; states like New York, where abortion is legal, would allow it to remain legal.

So, go ahead, Supreme Court, overrule the case. We'll then see (again) who is really "pro-life," and voters will act accordingly. And, Supreme Court, if you, after overruling Roe, try to touch Carey, Eisenstadt, or Griswold (even though Alito and Roberts "said" they wouldn't), that much more misery will be in store for the Republicans.

John Ashcroft once said "People say we shouldn't legislate morality. I say that's all we should do."

Go ahead and try, guys. You'll have a lot bigger problems than losing to a dead man. And this is not coming from a liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican, but a simple student of history.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Broadcaster says serious news at risk

By JAN SJOSTROM , Daily News Arts Editor

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Former CNN 'NewsNight' anchor Aaron Brown said important issues, such as the war in Iraq, are being clouded over by 'mud-wrestling' that skirts substance. Brown spoke Tuesday at The Society of the Four Arts.


The anchorman whose boss once characterized him as ice compared with his successor's fire was anything but chilly in the impassioned speech he delivered Tuesday at The Society of the Four Arts.

"Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news," said Aaron Brown, whose four-year period as anchor of CNN's NewsNight ended in November, when network executives gave his job to Anderson Cooper in a bid to push the show's ratings closer to front-runner Fox News.

Brown said he tried to give viewers a balanced diet of light and serious news with NewsNight. "But I always knew when I got to the Brussels sprouts, I was on thin ice," he said.

When NewsNight spent four hours covering the arrest of actor Robert Blake for the murder of his wife, Brown received thousands of e-mails criticizing the amount of time the show spent on the story. Nevertheless, that show, which aired in April 2002, received the highest ratings of any program since NewsNight's coverage of the November 2001 crash of American Airlines flight 587.

"Television is the most perfect democracy," Brown said. "You sit there with your remote control and vote." The remotes click to another channel when serious news airs, but when the media covers the scandals surrounding Laci Peterson, the Runaway Bride or Michael Jackson, "there are no clicks then," the journalist said.

With the departure from the screen of the "titans" — Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather — who "resisted the temptations of their bosses to go for the ratings grab, it will be years before an anchorman or anchorwoman will have the clout to fight these battles," he said.

Brown has spent most of his 30-year career in television news. He's covered everything from the Columbine High School murders to the aftermath of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. But viewers may remember best his on-the-spot coverage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

He's shocked "by how unkind our world has become," he said. E-mail and talk radio appear to have given people the license to say anything, regardless of how cruel or false it may be, he said.

He cited the example of an e-mail faulting what the sender considered to be NewsNight's inadequate coverage of an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. The note ended with, "I hope the violence visited on the people of Iraq will someday be visited on your children."

Those on the opposite side of the political spectrum are no more tolerant, Brown said. "Any criticism of the administration is regarded as hatred of the president and hatred of the country itself," he said.

Important issues, such as the prosecution of the war in Iraq at home and abroad, are being clouded over by "mud-wrestling" that skirts substance, he said. Consider what he called "the swift-boating of John Murtha," the Democratic congressman whose war record was smeared when he called for an exit strategy in Iraq. "Cable didn't search for the truth, but engaged in mock debates pitting those making the charges against Murtha's defenders," he said.

Many Americans on the left and the right aren't interested in the truth, but simply want news that confirms their viewpoints, he said. "You'd think that it's no more complex than good vs. evil," he said.

Journalists have fallen short in presenting important news in ways that allow viewers to see how it matters in their lives. But viewers must take up the battle as well, he said. "It's not enough to say you want serious news. You have to watch it. It isn't enough to say you want serious debate. You have to engage in it."


***This certainly hits the nail on the head.

911 means never having to say you're sorry...

This is a must read. This is our shame and proof positive we are run by reactionaries - not critical thinkers.


http://thegallopingbeaver.blogspot.com/2006/01/911-means-never-having-to-say-youre.html

Responsibility for the mess in Iraq rests at the feet of the Bush Administration

It's hard to march in lock step when you're running scared.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum usually steps out to President Bush's cadences, so it was no surprise that a few days after Bush warned Democratic critics of his Iraq policy to watch what they say or risk giving "comfort to our adversaries" and suffering at the ballot box that the Pennsylvania Republican, who faces a tough challenge in his bid for re-election this year, turned his guns on the liberals and the media.

As has become standard operating procedure for Republicans of the bubble-boy persuasion, Santorum made his remarks before a safe audience, in this case cadets at the Valley Forge Military Academy.

Santorum said public support for the war has been difficult to maintain because of "biased coverage of the war and the political left demagoguery of the war."

In other words, the nationalist/populist election-year line that has become standard for Bush and his supporters when it comes to those who challenge their divine right to rule: vilify, terrify and lie.

Let's start with the brutal truth: A first-class military organization is being ground up in Iraq because of this administration's combination of hubris and incompetence.

Our men and women in the military are being killed and wounded, often horribly, because they have inadequate or no personal armor to protect them.

They are being killed and wounded because they are denied armored vehicles by the Rumsfeld Pentagon, which has deemed tanks and other light and heavy armor as unnecessary for the occupation.

They face an almost impossible mission because the Bush White House refused to heed warnings that far more troops would be required to pacify Iraq than would be needed to successfully invade it.

They are being asked to carry out a nation-building mission for which they are not suited or trained.

For the record, we have opposed calls to withdraw troops from Iraq. However, we believe U.S. forces in Iraq need the personnel, material and training to carry out their mission.

We also believe that our nation's commitment in Iraq, by necessity, must be long-term if we are to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East.

But that does not require us or anyone else to march in lock step to the Bush administration.

If the United States is weaker today and Iraq has the potential to become a haven for terrorists, as Santorum maintains, the blame rests with the Bush administration.

http://www.timesonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15942731&BRD=2305&PAG=461&dept_id=478566&rfi=6

©Beaver County Times Allegheny Times 2006

Renew America: So Easy to Mock, No Wonder It's Number One!

You can reach Guy Adams @ gra4255@AOL.COM ( I'm sorry but that's just too damn funny that he still has an account. Could it be all that unfettered access to "teh gay"?

(On Our List of Favorite Wingnut Sites)


It seems that AOL is attacking Guy Adams again.

Back in November, it was censoring him because of his conservative beliefs, in that it wouldn't let him send his newsletter to people who didn't want it. (Brad at Sadly, No! covered this shocking story very ably in the expose' "Thank God for Renew America." You should read it, because, as Brad raved, Guy's column "has everything you could possibly want from a wingnut op-ed, including rampant paranoia, homophobia, and the complete rejection of what we lowly mortals know as 'reality.'" )

And now, as we learn from Guy's latest (which happens to be Renew America's lead story), AOL has crossed the line by allowing homosexuals to communicate with each other. And since homosexual sex "wars against you and me," you can see why Guy is so upset with the Internet company.

Anyway, with this column, Guy has now done what many would have said was impossible, and has topped his previous AOL paranoiac rant. Let's read some of his work so you can see for yourself:

A strange thing has recently happened in America. America Online, a new American icon, is actively supporting the homosexual lobby. They go way beyond tolerance toward the far end of endorsement. Thirty years ago, no one would dare to do what AOL has proudly done. I am currently an AOL subscriber, although that might change soon.

Oooh, I bet AOL is trembling in fear at those ominous italics! However, since Guy didn't quit the service after they censored him because of his conservative beliefs, I personally believe that Guy, like me, is too damned lazy to switch to another Internet provider, no matter what the provocation.

Why on earth would AOL actively cater to homosexuals, who are such a very small minority in America?

To be cool? To be fair? Because if you take $22.95 a month, and multiply it by just 5% of the country, it ends up being a pretty large sum?

I occasioned upon this when I went to add a "buddy" to my Instant Messenger list. I went to my Buddy List and clicked on Setup, which brought up:

"Buddy List Setup" with "Make a connection" on the lower right, with "People Connection" under that.

Clicking on "People Connection" brought up the URL http://peopleconnection.aol.com/messageboards, which then brought me to http://GayandLesbian.AOL.com/. I was astonished at America Online's audacity. Not only is AOL endorsing homosexuality, they're proactively sponsoring it.

Actually, clicking on "People Connection" brings you a page with links to "Diet Tips," "Pet of the Day," "Sports Bloggers," etc., plus links to 15 AOL "communities," to include "Black Voices," "Friends, Flirts, and Romance," "Home, Hobbies, & Family," and, yes, "Gay & Lesbian."

The "Gay & Lesbian" page features several message boards and chats oriented towards homosexuals -- however, you don't just stumble upon it while trying to set up your Buddy List, you have to seek it out. But hey, if Guy says that he was just going to the sporting goods store to buy a football, and then found to his horror that he was in the Tom Kat theater watching Forrest Rump, then I guess we should pretend to believe him.

So, yeah, AOL does feature a section which is geared towards homosexuals, and so it is "proactively sponsoring" homosexuality by giving gays and lesbians a way to communicate with each other -- just as it proactively sponsors disabilities by giving the disabled a "community." (And yeah, I was shocked, SHOCKED when I first learned that some people frequented chat rooms with titles like "Men Seeking Men." "Men Seeking Women," or "Married But Cheating" in order to find sexual partners -- but in the 8 or so years since I discovered this, my outrage has kinda diminished.)

But back to Guy, who is going to cut to the chase.

Cut to the chase

So let me ask you bluntly, if I might: What is so "American" about things like anal sex between two men?

Yeah! And what is so "online" about it? I think we need to shut down this Internets thing, as it allows people to talk about unAmerican things like sex. (Of course, that would would mean that we'd miss out on Guy's Renew America columns, but I guess that's a sacrifice we'll have to make).

Anyway, that was the chase, but Guy has not begun to fight the homosexual agenda.

NBC proudly states that "Will & Grace" has won eight GLAAD Media Awards. Okay, so what does that prove?

Nothing at all?

Nothing at all.

Then why the heck did you bring it up, Guy? I thought we were talking about AOL.

You see, Hollywood, including NBC, is trying extremely hard to separate the image of homosexuality from the harsh and brutal reality of the homosexual lifestyle, by depicting homosexuals as somewhat normal, if only a bit quirky.

When the truth is, homosexuals are icky and disgusting, in that they have icky, disgusting sex -- but Hollywood won't show you that, unless you go to the Tom Kat theater and watch those gay pornos.

But there's nothing normal about male-to-male, or female-to-female, "sex." It wars against nature and it wars against you and me.

Yes, kids, gay sex is warring against you and me. I can't add anything to that.

God got it right the first time, and anything that willfully chooses otherwise is unwise, at best.

The first time (or on the first day), God created the heaven and the earth -- and somehow gay sex is willfully choosing otherwise. Although I don't know what this means, I agree that it's unwise, at best.

Passage of homosexual "rights" and related hate-speech laws threatens to effectively silence the Church itself (as I'll talk more about later in this article). But you can change that. Call and write your legislators and let them know that you adamantly oppose the "gay agenda." When you call, ask the operator to "register" your opinion.

I think it would go a little something like this:

Operator: Senator Smith's office. How may I help you?

You: Hi. I adamantly oppose the "gay agenda"

Operator: Well, what do you want me to do about it?

You: Will you please "register" my opinion?

Operator: Sure thing -- it's now "registered" in our special opinion registry.

You: Don't you need my name or anything?

Operator: No, I'm sure that information is already included in our "Kooks & Loonies" file. But thanks for calling -- the Senator really values your input (tee hee!), and he shares your concern about the gray credenza.

You: I said "gay agenda!"

Operator: Whatever.

Now, back to Guy, for "Will and Grace: Behind the Gay."

In "Will and Grace," we have what NBC describes as a "light-hearted drama," but let's imagine--just what does Will actually do with his boyfriends?

Yes, let's imagine what TV characters do in their off-screen time, and work ourselves up to a froth thinking about the horrible, depraved stuff they're probably up to when we're not watching.

I apologize for the question, but now you can begin to see that "gay" is not really gay. There's nothing "gay" about anal sex or any other male-to-male sex act. I am not trying to be provocative for the sake of shock value alone, but with good reason I ask you, when the curtain folds and the light fades to black, just what do homosexuals do with each other in bed? Disgusting to contemplate, isn't it?

Now, imagine what Dick Cheney and Lynne do with each other in bed, after the lights go out. Disgusting (and horrifying) to contemplate, isn't it?

I think that if you can picture this for a moment, as unpleasant as it is, you will see the awful truth about the homosexual lifestyle.

So, my imaginings about all the depraved, nasty stuff that TV characters do with each other when I'm not looking reveals the truth about the homosexual lifestyle, and not something sad and twisted about my mental health? Good to know.

Like I said, there is nothing "gay" about it, is there? While watching shows like Will and Grace, have you thought about that? Homosexuals can be so intentionally illogical.

LOL! Those silly homosexuals, calling themselves "gay" when really they must be terribly unhappy, if we go by my mental images of all that hot, wild, sweaty, sex the "Will and Grace" characters are having.

The pomposity of the more radical homosexual activists is amazing. They go to great lengths to hide the actual nature of their acts. I hope I have not offended you by asking you to imagine these things, but having done so, you can see that the images these activists give you of normal--or normal-and-yet-only-slightly-quirky--homosexuals is just not true.

Wait, homosexual activists go to great lengths to hide from me that they're having homosexual sex? The bastards! Now I know the truth from imagining Will having sex with his boyfriend, I will never trust them and their pomposity again!

Anyway, Guy has a LOT more to say, including the astounding statement that "the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime," plus a warning that we could face another Civil War in America if we don't defeat the Homosexual Agenda now, because "just how many pastors and family members will have to be locked up before we say 'Enough is enough!' and are forced to take action?"

But let's cut to the chase (again):

It's not about "equality." Since homosexuals can buy houses, obtain loans, work where they want, vote, live where they want, and do just about everything else a normal person can do, just what is this call for "equality" all about, except for them calling for "special" homosexual rights and extraordinary (and unneeded) legal protections that could punish you and I simply for our views?

We should have every right to express our views about fags (who can do almost everything a normal person can even though they're not normal) by beating them up -- after all, this is America, isn't it?

The tolerant are really the most intolerant when it comes to moral conservatives criticizing their lifestyle, which is why they are lobbying feverously for more hate speech legislation. And why on God's green earth would any sane parent want their child to be indoctrinated with elementary school courses like "Heather Has Two Mommies"? Do you know what two lesbians do together in bed? I'm sorry to be so graphic and provocative--but is this what you want for your daughter?

Yes, I remember when my daughter took the "Heather has Two Mommies" course in first grade. On the first day, the kids learned that some families have a mommy and a daddy, some have just a mommy or a daddy, and some have two mommies or two daddies. The rest of the eight-week course was spent teaching the tots what Guy thinks lesbians do together in bed. Personally, I found it overly graphic (but kind of provocative and arousing). However, my daughter was so scarred by the experience that she ran away from home, and now is a rich Hollywood lesbian who writes for "Will and Grace" -- or so I like to imagine.

Okay, I guess that wasn't actually the chase. But let's cut back to AOL:

AOL gives you some other "gay" choices as well--among them being "Lambda lounge" and "Gay Marriage." [...]

Another homosexual group, the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) actually states that "NAMBLA's goal is to end the oppression of men and boys who have mutually consensual relationships." Amidst all the furor over criminals who rape young children, then get probation or extremely light sentences when convicted--IF they're convicted (this has been brought to light thanks to guys like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly)--how can we even seriously entertain such statements? How can they even dare say such a thing? It's called reprobation, and they go far beyond the bounds of decency by any standard.

All this homosexual decadence is all proudly advertised under "AOL Gay & Lesbian"--they have no shame at all. Anything to make a buck.


Is NAMBLA a homosexual group? Does AOL link to it or advertise it? Is Guy several chicken McNuggets short of Happy Meal?

No, no, and yes.

However, it is true that Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly spend a lot of time creating a furor about the handful of cases where scary strangers have kidnapped and raped young children, all while failing to warn viewers that most child molesters are family members, friends, neighbors, or acquaintances of the victims. But that's a topic for another, less-gay day.

In my opinion, AOL has no corporate conscience, and I suspect, since leadership dictates policy, that some of AOL's senior management have no public conscience either, in addition to possibly participating in the homosexual lifestyle themselves. That is just inference on my part, but you can connect the dots as well as I can.

And then you can imagine what those AOL senior managers do together in bed, once the lights go out. Yes, they think of new ways to bombard their customers with advertising. Disgusting, isn't it?

Anyway, Guy calls upon you to contact AOL, Time/Warner, NBC, ABC, and CBS, and tell them that you find it offensive that they are "actively and openly endorsing sexual relations between people of the same sex." Then, call or write your legislators and "let them no in no uncertain terms that you oppose all aspects of the homosexual lifestyle, that you oppose hate crimes legislation, and that you are strongly against homosexual marriage or even civil unions." After that, stick your head out of the window, and yell that you're crazy as hell, and you're not going to take the gay agenda anymore. And spend some time imagining what those gay monkeys do together when night falls in the jungle -- and then lie on the carpet gibbering to yourself until the men in the white coats take you away.

We're just not nice enough.

Posted by apostropher http://www.apostropher.com/blog/archives/002047.html

George W. Bush sees fit (here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060110-1.html to wag his finger for incivility, noting a "difference between responsible and irresponsible debate" and "demand[ing] a debate that brings credit to our democracy -- not comfort to our adversaries." Glenn Greenwald has a withering take (see here: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/01/rules-for-political-discourse.html on just how those standards are observed over on the right side of the aisle.

Well, I'm just having me a grand old time reading all the tut-tutting from the right about how liberals look down on their fellow Americans and how our enduring nastiness and intolerance of conservatives is what keeps us from winning elections and so on and so forth. I supposed they might have a point, so I went back to check the right wing's record of bipartisan we're-all-in-this-togetherness, as reflected by some of their better selling books that were published during the long, polite campaign:
Ann Coulter
Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)
Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right

Sean Hannity
Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism
Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism

David Horowitz
Hating Whitey: and Other Progressive Causes
The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future

David Limbaugh
Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity
Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department

Mona Charen
Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First
Do-gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim To Help And The Rest Of Us

Michael Savage
The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Schools, Faith, and Military

John O'Neill
Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry

Dick Morris
Off with Their Heads : Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business

Neal Boortz
The Terrible Truth about Liberals

Carl Limbacher
Hillary's Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton's Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House

Robert Patterson
Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our Security

Laura Ingraham
Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America

Ben Shapiro
Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth

Bernard Goldberg
Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite

Dan Flynn
Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation's Greatness

Barbara Olsen
The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House

Al Snow
Liberal-itis: A Thinking Disorder Destroying America

Tammy Bruce
The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values

Hugh Hewitt
If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It

Hmm. Well, in that spirit of bonhomie and civic highmindedness, I'd like to invite any of my conservative friends delivering lectures about the lack of liberal civility to kiss my hairy red ass. And I mean that in the very nicest, nonpartisan way.

President Jonah

You can see this article with active links at www.huffingtonpost.com and www.truthdig.com

Read this essay in its original context at Truthdig.com, complete with photos and an audio file of Mr. Vidal reading the entire piece.

While contemplating the ill-starred presidency of G.W. Bush, I looked about for some sort of divine analogy. As usual, when in need of enlightenment, I fell upon the Holy Bible, authorized King James version of 1611; turning by chance to the Book of Jonah, I read that Jonah, who, like Bush, chats with God, had suffered a falling out with the Almighty and thus became a jinx dogged by luck so bad that a cruise liner, thanks to his presence aboard, was about to sink in a storm at sea.
Once the crew had determined that Jonah, a passenger, was the jinx, they threw him overboard and--Lo!--the storm abated. The three days and nights he subsequently spent in the belly of a nauseous whale must have seemed like a serious jinx to the digestion-challenged whale who extruded him much as the decent opinion of mankind has done to Bush.

Originally, God wanted Jonah to give hell to Nineveh, whose people, God noted disdainfully, "cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand," so like the people of Baghdad who cannot fathom what democracy has to do with their destruction by the Cheney-Bush cabal. But the analogy becomes eerily precise when it comes to the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at a time when a president is not only incompetent but plainly jinxed by whatever faith he cringes before. Witness the ongoing screw-up of prescription drugs. Who knows what other disasters are in store for us thanks to the curse he is under? As the sailors fed the original Jonah to a whale, thus lifting the storm that was about to drown them, perhaps we the people can persuade President Jonah to retire to his other Eden in Crawford, Texas, taking his jinx with him. We deserve a rest. Plainly, so does he. Look at Nixon's radiant features after his resignation! One can see former President Jonah in his sumptuous library happily catering to faith-based fans with animated scriptures rooted in "The Simpsons."

Not since the glory days of Watergate and Nixon's Luciferian fall has there been so much written about the dogged deceits and creative criminalities of our rulers. We have also come to a point in this dark age where there is not only no hero in view but no alternative road unblocked. We are trapped terribly in a now that few foresaw and even fewer can define despite a swarm of books and pamphlets like the vast cloud of locusts which dined on China in that '30s movie "The Good Earth."

I have read many of these descriptions of our fallen estate, looking for one that best describes in plain English how we got to this now and where we appear to be headed once our good Earth has been consumed and only Rapture is left to whisk aloft the Faithful. Meanwhile, the rest of us can learn quite a lot from "Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire" by Morris Berman, a professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

I must confess that I have a proprietary interest in anyone who refers to the United States as an empire since I am credited with first putting forward this heretical view in the early '70s. In fact, so disgusted with me was a book reviewer at Time magazine that as proof of my madness he wrote: "He actually refers to the United States as an empire!" It should be noted that at about the same time Henry Luce, proprietor of Time, was booming on and on about "The American Century." What a difference a word makes!

Berman sets his scene briskly in recent history. "We were already in our twilight phase when Ronald Reagan, with all the insight of an ostrich, declared it to be 'morning in America'; twenty-odd years later, under the 'boy emperor' George W. Bush (as Chalmers Johnson refers to him), we have entered the Dark Ages in earnest, pursuing a short-sighted path that can only accelerate our decline. For what we are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture--a troika that was for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political and economic marginalization of our culture.... The British historian Charles Freeman published an extended discussion of the transition that took place during the late Roman empire, the title of which could serve as a capsule summary of our current president: "The Closing of the Western Mind." Mr. Bush, God knows, is no Augustine; but Freeman points to the latter as the epitome of a more general process that was underway in the fourth century: namely, 'the gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority.' This is what we are seeing today, and it is a process that no society can undergo and still remain free. Yet it is a process of which administration officials, along with much of the American population, are aggressively proud." In fact, close observers of this odd presidency note that Bush, like his evangelical base, believes he is on a mission from God and that faith trumps empirical evidence. Berman quotes a senior White House adviser who disdains what he calls the "reality-based" community, to which Berman sensibly responds: "If a nation is unable to perceive reality correctly, and persists in operating on the basis of faith-based delusions, its ability to hold its own in the world is pretty much foreclosed."

Berman does a brief tour of the American horizon, revealing a cultural death valley. In secondary schools where evolution can still be taught too many teachers are afraid to bring up the subject to their so often un-evolved students. "Add to this the pervasive hostility toward science on the part of the current administration (e.g. stem-cell research) and we get a clear picture of the Enlightenment being steadily rolled back. Religion is used to explain terror attacks as part of a cosmic conflict between Good and Evil rather than in terms of political processes.... Manichaeanism rules across the United States. According to a poll taken by Time magazine fifty-nine percent of Americans believe that John's apocalyptic prophecies in the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled, and nearly all of these believe that the faithful will be taken up into heaven in the 'Rapture.'

"Finally, we shouldn't be surprised at the antipathy toward democracy displayed by the Bush administration.... As already noted, fundamentalism and democracy are completely antithetical. The opposite of the Enlightenment, of course, is tribalism, groupthink; and more and more, this is the direction in which the United States is going.... Anthony Lewis who worked as a columnist for the New York Times for thirty-two years, observes that what has happened in the wake of 9/11 is not just the threatening of the rights of a few detainees, but the undermining of the very foundation of democracy. Detention without trial, denial of access to attorneys, years of interrogation in isolation--these are now standard American practice, and most Americans don't care. Nor did they care about the revelation in July 2004 (reported in Newsweek), that for several months the White House and the Department of Justice had been discussing the feasibility of canceling the upcoming presidential election in the event of a possible terrorist attack." I suspect that the technologically inclined prevailed against that extreme measure on the ground that the newly installed electronic ballot machines could be so calibrated that Bush would win handily no matter what (read Rep. Conyers' report (.pdf file) on the rigging of Ohio's vote).

Meanwhile, the indoctrination of the people merrily continues. "In a 'State of the First Amendment Survey' conducted by the University of Connecticut in 2003, 34 percent of Americans polled said the First Amendment 'goes too far'; 46 percent said there was too much freedom of the press; 28 percent felt that newspapers should not be able to publish articles without prior approval of the government; 31 percent wanted public protest of a war to be outlawed during that war; and 50 percent thought the government should have the right to infringe on the religious freedom of 'certain religious groups' in the name of the war on terror."

It is usual in sad reports like Professor Berman's to stop abruptly the litany of what has gone wrong and then declare, hand on heart, that once the people have been informed of what is happening, the truth will set them free and a quarter-billion candles will be lit and the darkness will flee in the presence of so much spontaneous light. But Berman is much too serious for the easy platitude. Instead he tells us that those who might have struck at least a match can no longer do so because shared information about our situation is meager to nonexistent. Would better schools help? Of course, but, according to that joyous bearer of ill tidings, the New York Times, many school districts are now making sobriety tests a regular feature of the school day: apparently opium derivatives are the opiate of our stoned youth. Meanwhile, millions of adult Americans, presumably undrugged, have no idea who our enemies were in World War II. Many college graduates don't know the difference between an argument and an assertion (did their teachers also fail to solve this knotty question?). A travel agent in Arizona is often asked whether or not it is cheaper to take the train rather than fly to Hawaii. Only 12% of Americans own a passport. At the time of the 2004 presidential election 42% of voters believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. One high school boy, when asked who won the Civil War, replied wearily, "I don't know and I don't care," echoing a busy neocon who confessed proudly: "The American Civil War is as remote to me as the War of the Roses."

We are assured daily by advertisers and/or politicians that we are the richest, most envied people on Earth and, apparently, that is why so many awful, ill-groomed people want to blow us up. We live in an impermeable bubble without the sort of information that people living in real countries have access to when it comes to their own reality. But we are not actually people in the eyes of the national ownership: we are simply unreliable consumers comprising an overworked, underpaid labor force not in the best of health: The World Health Organization rates our healthcare system (sic--or sick?) as 37th-best in the world, far behind even Saudi Arabia, role model for the Texans. Our infant mortality rate is satisfyingly high, precluding a First World educational system. Also, it has not gone unremarked even in our usually information-free media that despite the boost to the profits of such companies as Halliburton, Bush's wars of aggression against small countries of no danger to us have left us well and truly broke. Our annual trade deficit is a half-trillion dollars, which means that we don't produce much of anything the world wants except those wan reports on how popular our Entertainment is overseas. Unfortunately the foreign gross of "King Kong," the Edsel of that assembly line, is not yet known. It is rumored that Bollywood--the Indian film business--may soon surpass us! Berman writes, "We have lost our edge in science to Europe...The US economy is being kept afloat by huge foreign loans ($4 billion a day during 2003). What do you think will happen when America's creditors decide to pull the plug, or when OPEC members begin selling oil in euros instead of dollars?...An International Monetary Fund report of 2004 concluded that the United States was 'careening toward insolvency.' " Meanwhile, China, our favorite big-time future enemy, is the number one for worldwide foreign investments, with France, the bete noire of our apish neocons, in second place.

Well, we still have Kraft cheese and, of course, the death penalty.

Berman makes the case that the Bretton-Woods agreement of 1944 institutionalized a system geared toward full employment and the maintenance of a social safety net for society's less fortunate--the so-called welfare or interventionist state. It did this by establishing fixed but flexible exchange rates among world currencies, which were pegged to the U.S. dollar while the dollar, for its part, was pegged to gold. In a word, Bretton-Woods saved capitalism by making it more human. Nixon abandoned the agreement in 1971, which started, according to Berman, huge amounts of capital moving upward from the poor and the middle class to the rich and super-rich.

Mr. Berman spares us the happy ending, as, apparently, has history. When the admirable Tiberius (he has had an undeserved bad press), upon becoming emperor, received a message from the Senate in which the conscript fathers assured him that whatever legislation he wanted would be automatically passed by them, he sent back word that this was outrageous. "Suppose the emperor is ill or mad or incompetent?" He returned their message. They sent it again. His response: "How eager you are to be slaves." I often think of that wise emperor when I hear Republican members of Congress extolling the wisdom of Bush. Now that he has been caught illegally wiretapping fellow citizens he has taken to snarling about his powers as "a wartime president," and so, in his own mind, he is above each and every law of the land. Oddly, no one in Congress has pointed out that he may well be a lunatic dreaming that he is another Lincoln but whatever he is or is not he is no wartime president. There is no war with any other nation...yet. There is no state called terror, an abstract noun like liar. Certainly his illegal unilateral ravaging of Iraq may well seem like a real war for those on both sides unlucky enough to be killed or wounded, but that does not make it a war any more than the appearance of having been elected twice to the presidency does not mean that in due course the people will demand an investigation of those two irregular processes. Although he has done a number of things that under the old republic might have got him impeached, our current system protects him: incumbency-for-life seats have made it possible for a Republican majority in the House not to do its duty and impeach him for his incompetence in handling, say, the natural disaster that befell Louisiana.

The founders thought two-year terms for members of the House was as much democracy as we'd ever need. Therefore, there was no great movement to have some sort of recall legislation in the event that a president wasn't up to his job and so had lost the people's confidence between elections. But in time, as Ecclesiastes would say, all things shall come to pass and so, in a kindly way, a majority of the citizens must persuade him that he will be happier back in Crawford pruning Bushes of the leafy sort while the troops not killed or maimed will settle for simply being alive and in one piece. We may be slaves but we are not unreasonable.

One way that a majority of citizens can help open the road back to Crawford is by heeding the call of a group called the World Can't Wait (see their website, worldcantwait.org). They believe that the agenda for 2006 must not be set by the Bush gang but by the people taking independent mass political action.

On Jan. 31, the night of Bush's next State of the Union address, they have called for people in large cities and small towns all across the country to join in noisy rallies to make the demand that "Bush Step Down" the message of the day. At 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, just as Bush starts to speak, people can make a joyful noise and figuratively drown out his address. Then on the following Saturday, Feb. 4, converge in front of the White House with the same message: Please step down and take your program with you.

Weather Forecast: Tyranny Foretold

Thursday, 26 January 2006
Below is a passage from a column I published in the Moscow Times on Nov. 9, 2001. (Weather Report: The Hard Chill Begins to Bite.) http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=433&Itemid=5 I offer it here not as an example of my powers of prophecy – I have none, of course – but simply as evidence that the darkness that has descended on the Republic today could be seen coming years ago, by any ordinary citizen, with power or position, no special access to insider information, no expert knowledge or academic rank:

[Excerpt]: It won't come with jackboots and book burnings, with mass rallies and fevered harangues. It won't come with "black helicopters" or tanks on the street. It won't come like a storm – but like a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality has taken its place.

As in Rome, all the old forms will still be there; legislatures, elections, campaigns – plenty of bread and circuses for the folks. But the "consent of the governed" will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a degree of free debate will be permitted, within limits; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized – usually by "the people" themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will often act in secret; for reasons of "national security," the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, the murder of "enemies" selected by the leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new "security structures" targeted at the populace. In time, all this will come to seem "normal," as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone. [End of excerpt]

If a yokel like me could see all this coming – just by observing the open declarations and actions of the Bush Administration and its Congresssional and media sycophants in the first few weeks after the September 11 attacks – then what excuse do the lords and mandarins of the Establishment have for standing by and allowing all this to happen? They have no excuse. There is no excuse.

So whenever some big media beast or Democratic "leader" steps forward now to say, "Gee, we were misled by these guys" or "Boy, if I'd only known before," or some other craven, mealy-mouthed expression of self-justifying ignorance – tell them to their face that they lie. If they were ignorant, it was a willful ignorance, a co-opted ignorance, a bribed and bought ignorance, born from their desire to keep on feeding from the trough of power and privilege just as long as the slops keep coming. Wadded with power, privilege and nice pay packets, they were willingly deceived.

For when we speak of the media and political elite, we're talking largely about a generation that lived through the gross crimes and deceptions of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, COINTELPRO, the Phoenix Program, and dozens of other associated scandals – perpetrated by many of the same people brought back into power by George W. Bush. And yet at every turn, Bush and this gang of known scofflaws were given – and continue being given – the benefit of the doubt by the "wise men" of the Establishment: "Gosh, presidents and government officials don't ever lie, deceive, spy, murder and steal, do they? We've certainly never seen anything like that before. There must be some reasonable explanation for Mr. Bush's actions."

This faux-naivete bespeaks a level of cynicism every bit as deep as the sugar-coated public piety that masks the Bush gang's blood soaked greed for loot and power.