Saturday, August 21, 2004

Iraq soccer team to Bush

"Go fuck yourself, biatch!"

Multimedia time

Old Tricks.



Let us travel back in time to the early days of the 2000 GOP nomination contest, and Junior's smear of John McCain. This video is footage of McCain confronting Junior, ending on this note: "you should be ashamed." Not like Junior gave a damn - just see the look on his face. Bush is nothing more than your basic jr high/high school thug who will lie and bully at a whim and is more than pleased with himself. Some of those schoolyard thugs grow up. Others become like old Preznit Bush.

"George W. Bush is lower than a slug"

Now there's a statement that won't get any argument from me. I could actually use that description for a number of politicians, but at this particular point in time ol' Junior is the prototype for sleaziness. Dave Chandler of Earthside had this to say:



President Franklin Roosevelt said: "In politics nothing happens 'by chance. If something happens, then you can bet that it was planned that way." That is clearly what is going on with the smear coming from the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth". As the articles below indicate, this entire effort has been coordinated by Bush allies with connections directly to Karl Rove in the White House.



These bitter, sour, and jealous veterans who are making-up stories about John Kerry's time in Vietnam are not just some independent group of 'concerned citizens' - they are part of the Bush-Rove smear machine. The 'townhall' Q & A with Bush (below) shows that he is in on the mudslinging. But of course, he wants to appear somehow detached from the gutter politics ... Actually, it looks more like he is hiding behind these Swift boat liars, once again afraid of Vietnam and its ugliness; just as he was when he finagled his way into the Texas Air National Guard and then spent little time flying fighter jets and most of his time inebriated and volunteering for Republicans in Florida and Alabama.



We all know politics can be dirty and brutal, we expect that and know that it is vigorous debate and confrontation that makes politicians accountable. But when chickenhawks like George W. Bush and Karl Rove continually besmirch the military heroics of John McCain, Max Cleland, and now John Kerry, we are seeing character of remarkably slimy and immoral depths.



All veterans and current members of the military, especially those in Iraq, should be disgusted that low-lifes like Bush and Rove and Cheney have no compunction about twisting and degrading the service of others if it happens to be politically expedient. Indeed, think about how Bush even hides and covers-up the ultimate sacrifice of those coming back to the United States from Iraq in caskets - he will not publicly, honorably acknowledge their existence for fear of political damage - what kind of courage it that? This kind of disdain for military accomplishments, at the same time they strut around as great patriots, should be categorically rejected by all of us - it hurts our country. This is a potentially very destructive concept Bush engages in: does the quality of your past military service depend upon your current political views? Is that how veterans want to be judged? Yet that really is the question buried at the bottom of what Bush and Rove and the anti-Kerry Swift boat veterans attack.



Even peace activists and those less inclined to support the military establishment understand that the kind of people who would sink to the level of smearing veterans will have no problem trashing the rights of anyone who opposes them. That is why this particular development in the presidential campaign of 2004 is especially troublesome. We see the truth about Bush and his cronies, it is fundamentally un-American, it is intrinsically immoral and unethical, it is essential in the cowardice is betrays in George W. Bush that he silently sits and nods his head in approval. The last fig leaf has fallen away from the facade of Bush's political character - and we see that he is lower than a slug.



Now, more than ever, we can see why it is time for Bush to go away!




Won't get any argument from me there.

While we're on the topic of questions

David Neiwert of Orcinus has a number of questions that he'd love to direct towards the right-wingnuts (not that any of them would have the moral fibre to actually respond in a straight-forward matter, but that's another story):



-- What is the right course for securing the nation against terrorism, while protecting the civil liberties that define us?



-- How are we going to effectively extricate ourselves from the ongoing mess we created in Iraq, and bring our soldiers home and out of harm's way?



-- What can we do about the 2 million or so jobs that have been lost in the past four years -- as well as the continuing malaise in job creation?



-- What can we do about the ballooning federal budget deficit, for which our children and grandchildren will be paying?



-- How can we develop an effective energy policy that confronts and begins to reverse our longtime dependence not merely on oil, but on the giant congolmerates and Middle Eastern suzerains who control it -- because gasoline prices are reaching outrageous levels, because the spectre of stagflation continues to hover, and most of all, because oil continues to entangle us in military adventures that cost us both treasure and lives?



-- What can we do about better preserving our environment, and especially confronting global warming, now that we know it's not just a theory, and we know that its effects may be truly dire and truly destructive?





Not the stuff of which ratings are made, but the sorts of issues that need addressing, pronto. I wouldn't count on the Faux News and talkshow crowd to be terribly eager to do more than trivialize the 2004 election cycle - hell their beloved Preznit is about as trivial as they come. They do no service to a nation that's at a cross-roads.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Questions

Mary Louise Symon suggests to her readers to Ask Bush supporters these basic questions:



Why was the Bush administration so surprised by the Iraq insurgency and so ill-prepared for the Iraq invasion?



Did our president lie to us about the reasons for invading Iraq?



Did he know that weapons of mass destruction would not be found there?



Did he know there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11 when he went before Congress, the country and the world to justify the invasion?



How could the Bush administration not have known that toying with the Geneva Conventions would lead to atrocities such as Abu Ghraib?



Why has the president abrogated so many international treaties that had been signed after painstaking international negotiations? They were put in place for the good of humanity.



Did the massive tax cuts of the Bush administration do anything substantive to improve the economy or were they really a handout for the very wealthy?



Doesn't the Bush administration care that it converted a budget surplus to a massive deficit, thereby damaging programs that were intended to meet human needs?



Are Americans more comfortable with more and more appointments going to religious fundamentalists who are free to mold the federal bureaucracy, policies and legislation to their religious beliefs?




Check out the rest of the column.

More positive visions of the future

I've been mentioning from time to time Dave Pollard's blog, How to Save the World. If you haven't visited it, you owe it to yourself to check out what this cat is up to. Recently Dave has had a series of posts titled The Truth About Nature, in three installments: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. The first essay sets the stage by describing what Pollard considers some fundamental truths about nature and civilization. The second essay delves deeper into the workings of nature and Pollard offers some suggestions for how to get ourselves more attuned with nature and our own nature. The final essay gets at the need for changing the foundations of civilization in order for the human species to have a sustainable future. Agree or disagree, but realize that Pollard at least has been willing to try to think through some possible solutions to the daunting issues we as a species will face this century, and he's pointed us to some scholars who have also been pondering the same issues. Check it out, and keep an open mind.

On to positive visions of the future:

The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head posted by Nick Lewis of NET POLITIK, excerpts some comments by Dr. James Moore. A clip:



Which brings us to the most important point: the vital role of the individual. The shared, collective mind of the second superpower is made up of many individual human minds--your mind and my mind--together we create the movement. In traditional democracy our minds don't matter much--what matters are the minds of those with power of position, and the minds of those that staff and lobby them. In the emergent democracy of the second superpower, each of our minds matters a lot. For example, any one of us can launch an idea. Any one of us can write a blog, send out an email, create a list. Not every idea will take hold in the big mind of the second superpower--but the one that eventually catches fire is started by an individual. And in the peer-oriented world of the second superpower, many more of us have the opportunity to craft submissions, and take a shot.



The second superpower, emerging in the 21st century, depends upon educated informed members. In the community of the second superpower each of us is responsible for our own sense-making. We seek as much data-raw facts, direct experience--as we can, and then we make up our own minds. Even the current fascination with "reality television" speaks to this desire: we prefer to watch our fellows, and decide ourselves "what's the story" rather than watching actors and actresses play out a story written by someone else. The same, increasingly, is true of the political stage--hence the attractiveness of participation in the second superpower to individuals.




This is the sort of thing that I think is good grist for the mill as the end of the 2004 election cycle is increasingly nearing and as I endeavor to move the focus away from Bu$hCo and onto something far more productive. What Moore is discussing is an emergent global movement that is more or less in its infancy. Definitely some food for thought. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Bush supporter assaults protester at Portland rally

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Click the pic for more details. David Neiwert also has a few things to say about the incident in his post, A thousand words, as the picture does indeed say much about the dynamic of this particular election season. Neiwert has been cataloging a number of these types of incidents over the last several months, such as this recent post Political thuggery, and Shades of Kristallnacht. I've also tried to post and comment on a number of these incidents as they've occurred nationwide, such as this one from last October: Progressive Candidate Roughed Up By Ah-nuld Brownshirt Thugs, Local Fascism: Escalation of Intimidation (which also has quite a few links to Niewert's and others' reports of wingnut political violence). All part of a disturbing trend that a number of us have been pointing to for a while now.

Today's quotable:

by xymphora in the post on the Hugo Chávez referendum victory:



Can you imagine what politics would be like in the United States if there was a political party willing and able to mobilize the American poor to protest and to vote?




The whole thing's worth reading.

Chalmers Johnson on the Bu$hCo Troop Realignment

transcript via Democracy Now!



Some clips:



For all of the endless talk by this administration about our support for democracy, he doesn't tell us that the new bases are being opened in some of the most autocratic or -- military dictatorships that exist around the world, whereas they're actually withdrawing troops from two of the genuine democracies that did not join the coalition of the consenting, so called, namely South Korea and Germany.



[...]



At the same time, they don't say anything about 14 permanent bases being built in Iraq. Four are already built: Tallil Air Base, Baghdad, the one in the north near Mosul and the one over on the border with Syria. They don't say anything about the bases in Jabuti, in the Saharan Desert, in Mali and places like that in our attempt to get some kind of a military base to control the oil in the Gulf of Guinea and numerous other things like this that simply are not mentioned. What I fear is this doesn't really come so much either from the Secretary of Defense or even from Bush as it does from Karl Rove. It's the attempt once again to manipulate the gullible by suggesting that we are all of a sudden turning responsible and careful and concerned about the welfare of families, of people serving in the armed forces or of people forced to live cheek by jowl with military bases around the world. For instance, it's simply nonsense. If you join the Marine Corps today and happen to have a family, I guarantee you, they give you information on how to apply for food stamps as you join simply because you can’t possibly live on what they're paid.



[...]



That is to say the war on terror -- we have applied wrongly an overly military approach to it from the beginning. There is no question that the situation is worse today than it was on 9/11. That is, between 1993 and 2001, including 9/11, al Qaeda managed to carry out five major bombings internationally. In the three years since 9/11, down to and including the attacks in Riyadh, the suicide bombings in Istanbul, the bombings of the commuter railroads in Madrid, they have carried out well over 20 that -- Rumsfeld asked last October, you know, we need a measure of how we're doing in the war on terrorism. Well, baby, we have got a measure. We're losing it. We're losing it rather badly, and it's because of an excessively military approach to these problems without any real understanding of the needs to alter our foreign policy in order to do the only known way to deal with terrorism. To try and separate the activists who are incorrigible from their passive supporters. The only way so that you can get information from their passive supporters on who the activists are and arrest them in courts of law. The only way to separate the activists from their passive supporters is to recognize the legitimacy of the grievances of their passive supporters, grievances that are easily illustrated in the Middle East by the fact that we have American troops in Iraq, that we are the world's sole supporters of the Sharon government in Israel, and its extremely militaristic policies toward the essentially defenseless Palestinians. The result is that the entire Islamic world are now passive supporters of al Qaeda. I've spent a fair amount of time traveling in Indonesia. It's the world's largest Islamic country. And I guarantee you until very recently, Islam was carried very lightly in Indonesia. More or less the way an Italian man carries his Catholicism. Four or five years ago, 80% of the population were pro-American. It was one of the easiest places on earth to visit. Now 80% of the public distrusts the United States and is sympathetic to al Qaeda. T-shirts with pictures of Osama bin Laden are common on any kid in Jakarta today. Only George Bush could have brought about such a disastrous outcome.



Tuesday, August 17, 2004

New Alice Coltrane recording to be released at the end of September

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If you know something about Alice Coltrane's classic albums from her stint with Impulse! (1968-1973), you'll have a good idea of why a new recording from her is such a big thing. I hope it lives up to its hype. Needless to say, I'll be counting the days to this reaches the records stores. Click the image to see what Verve's site is saying.

Let me get this straight

According to NYC Mayor Bloomberg (GOP by the way), free speech and free assembly are "privileges" that can be taken away by the authorities if these "privileges" are "abused."



A clip from Newsday:



Mayor Michael Bloomberg, already under fire for his tough stance against anti-GOP protest groups, Monday suggested that First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly are "privileges" that could be lost if abused.



Bloomberg, speaking to Republican National Convention volunteers in Manhattan, was trying to downplay concerns that protesters will disrupt this month's convention -- when he began articulating a broader constitutional vision.



"People who avail themselves of the opportunity to express themselves ... they will not abuse that privilege," he said at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Because if we start to abuse our privileges, then we lose them, and nobody wants that."




Now for our edification, here's the text of the First Amendment to the US Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights):



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.




So, what's wrong with this picture? Is this the standard belief now of the GOP brass? Are we going to find cats like Bloomberg demanding the First Amendment be repealed?

Monday, August 16, 2004

"I want to fuck, drink beer and smoke some shit..."

(with apologies to The Beatnuts)



US marines accused of Afghan abuse



We got this seriously messed up shit happening in Abu Ghraib, and now this:



American authorities have reportedly launched an inquiry into allegations of sexual and physical abuse by US marines against 35 villagers in central Afghanistan.



The allegations were aired last night in an SBS Dateline report by Melbourne journalist Carmela Baranowska, who was feared kidnapped by the Taliban in late June.



In the report, former prisoners alleged US marines used the tactic of sexual humiliation, which Baranowska described as similar to that which occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.



[...]



In the television report, 27-year-old Afghan villager Wali Mohammad described in graphic detail his alleged abuse by 20 Americans soldiers.



"They fingered us, beat us and humiliated us," he said.



"There were youngsters as well. They took off my clothes... fingering the anus is against Islam.



"They were all laughing and mocking."




As I said, this is messed up. That'll sure win some hearts and minds...for insurgents of various stripes.

Let's have fun with quotes: Venezuela Edition

I was reading Greg Palast's latest piece in Common Dreams, Dick Cheney, Hugo Chavez and Bill Clinton's Band: Why Venezuela has Voted Again for Their 'Negro e Indio' President and found all manner of entertaining tidbits from Hugo Chávez's political enemies. Check these out:



There's so much BS and baloney thrown around about Venezuela that I may be violating some rule of US journalism by providing some facts. Let's begin with this: 77% of Venezuela's farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the 'hacendados.'



I met one of these farmlords in Caracas at an anti-Chavez protest march. Oddest demonstration I've ever seen: frosted blondes in high heels clutching designer bags, screeching, "Chavez - dic-ta-dor!" The plantation owner griped about the "socialismo" of Chavez, then jumped into his Jaguar convertible.



That week, Chavez himself handed me a copy of the "socialist" manifesto that so rattled the man in the Jag. It was a new law passed by Venezuela's Congress which gave land to the landless. The Chavez law transferred only fields from the giant haciendas which had been left unused and abandoned.



This land reform, by the way, was promoted to Venezuela in the 1960s by that Lefty radical, John F. Kennedy. Venezuela's dictator of the time agreed to hand out land, but forgot to give peasants title to their property.




That John F. Kennedy - a real left-wing America-hater he was, eh? And I just love watching the wealthiest of the wealthy whining about a populist being a "dictator" when we all can guess with a reasonable degree of accuracy that these same folks wouldn't give a thought about dictatorship as long as they had their Jaguars, Gucci bags, and hair dressers just a hop skip and jump away in Florida readily available.



Winning most of the votes, said a White House spokesman, did not make Chavez' government "legitimate."




Huh. I guess the current resident in the White House would know a lot about that.

¡Viva Chávez!

Chávez Triumphs. Contrast to NYT's article Chávez Is Declared the Winner in Venezuela Referendum. The first article takes the results as essentially a landslide. The second article on the other hand, ends with this:



So though the opposition seems to have fallen short, it has clearly demonstrated to the government that it has alienated much of the populace. Mr. Chávez's challenge will, in part, be to show that he can be conciliatory, instead of demeaning, as many Venezuelans charge. Some political analysts, even those who see positive policies in the Chávez government, believe it may be hard for the president.



"He cannot resist a fight," Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington-based policy group, said in a recent interview. "He's a taunting man, with almost a kind of childish irresponsibility."



Mr. Birns added that Mr. Chávez must learn that his mannerisms infuriate opponents, to the point where it is counterproductive for his own government. "Is he wise enough to learn?" Mr. Birns wondered.




The part highlighted in red is something we would not see in a US paper regarding a Presidential election. Go figure.



And in today's "WTF!!??!!!" department

Suppress the Vote?



Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places, including Florida, today.



Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.



The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the difference between victory and defeat.



The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this so-called investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.




Something tells me that in Bu$hCo's Florida, we're still in the "bad old days." White Southern man's got a God complex!

Happy Monday!

A new work week, and for me a new semester begins. So in the spirit of providing both edification and entertainment (or what KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions would have alled "edutainment"), here's the Presidency of George W Bush, condensed.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Freedom: US & Iraq

Repression at home and abroad: a new chill is here juxtaposes two stories focusing on US intimidation of soon-to-be protesters at the GOP convention and the apparent decision of the US puppet regime in Iraq to threaten journalists reporting from Najaf with death. Got fascism?

Some Sunday Poetry (Alas, Not Mine)

My favorite book is The Pet Goat

It's the best that has been wrote. ...

I have read it on a boat,

I read it while New York was smote. ...

I think you that will like this book

Go ahead now, take a look!





Deborah Frisch, cited in Election 2004: Of heroes and pet goats

News of the weird

Dictator orders ice palace to be built in central Asian desert



I love the subtitle: "Undeterred by temperatures of 50C, President known for bizarre decrees says he wants children to learn to ski." Freaky dude. I could imagine this cat and Bush partying together, smokin crack an shit.

Excellent post:

Strength



Some clips:



Picture a boxer. He works out nearly all day every day. He eats right, does cardio and can lift a small Honda with each arm. Put this man in the ring with a savvy boxer and he might just get his ass kicked.



But, you would say, our boxer was stronger. True, and to prove it he marched off into the parking lot and beat up a homeless man. But that doesn't erase the fact that he just got his ass whooped by a better boxer. Strength can be a measure of either power or ability.



Cheney is right and Cheney is wrong. Terrorism is NOT caused by strength alone, simply having military might will do little to instigate hatred against us. But where he is wrong is in confusing what those terms mean. I see little strength in our decision to invade Iraq. It was a strategic blunder and an excellent indicator that America is weak in its underbelly, our willingness to play well with others.



So our boxer finishes up his drubbing of the homeless man expecting to receive cheers from people applauding his strength only to find instead the astonished faces of horrified spectators. We know that violence without cause is not strength, it is brutality.



We DO create terrorist by using our strength... in irresponsible ways.




I remember a GOP slogan from the early 1980s: "peace through strength." Of course those cats were using the slogan to demand a huge military build-up during the Cold War's supernova. Maybe we can modify that slogan a bit: "peace through strength used responsibly." Think of our mythical boxer above. Let's say he does okay in the ring - some days he wins, occasionally loses. He knows out on the street that he can whup yo ass if he has to, but doesn't go looking for trouble and if anything goes through his life trying to de-escalate situations. The peace maker. The gentle giant. Nobody doubts his physical prowess, but they also give him props for not abusing those abilities.



So which boxer would you want America to be? Mike Tyson or Mohammad Ali? Right now we look a lot like Tyson, biting off ears in the ring and starting shit on the street. Maybe Tyson just past his prime. The mythical image is still there - larger than life, intimidating, fear-inspiring. But the other contenders know this cat's seriously wacked out, and it's precisely that quality that leads to vulnerability. And there's nothing more satisfying than bringing down some Tyson-like cat.

More Bokononist Words

This - a passage from Kurt Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse Five:



Then she [Mary O'Hare] turned to me, let me see how angry she was, and that the anger was for me. She had been talking to herself, so that what she said was a fragment of a much larger conversation. "You were just babies then!" she said.



"What?" I said.



"You were just babies in the war - like the ones upstairs!"



I nodded that this was true. We had been foolish virgins in the war, right at the end of childhood.



"But you're not going to write it that way, are you." This wasn't a question. It was an accusation.



"I-I don't know," I said.



"Well I know," she said. "You'll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you'll be played in movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so we'll have a lot more of them. And they'll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs."



So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn't want her babies or anybody else's babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies.



So I held up my right hand and I made her a promise: "Mary," I said, "I don't think this book of mine is ever going to be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won't be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.



"I'll tell you what," I said, "I'll call it 'The Children's Crusade.'"



She was my friend after that.




Emphasis (in red) added by moi. Great book, by the way, and although some of the action takes place in Dresden and other locations in Germany towards the end of WWII, it's hardly a romantic or glorious portray - tragicomical maybe. Written through the jaded eyes and brain cells of a cat who'd been there.



Got all that? Cool. Now, check out this post from Steve Gilliard: Attack the chickenhawks. Dig the John Wayne reference there. Of course that's not the only reason to check it out. Cats like Bush and Cheney (along with a lot of the other chickenhawks) who romanticize war, who make it seem glorious, and who seem to have no qualms about sending someone else's babies to fight those wars deserve to be publicly challenged for their foolishness. Dyed in the wool pacifists like myself will gladly give props to the veterans who really do grasp the ugly realities of war, and appreciate those who've been willing to stand up and be counted as Bu$hCo has gone on some mad crusade at the expense of countless lives.