March 30, 2006

She's Got that Right

Jane Smiley tells it like it is.

Notes for Converts by Jane Smiley

Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O'Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush's faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.

1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those "polls" that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed "integrity" on his part. It doesn't. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.

2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn't care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it. You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn't matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he's not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because...

3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a "sense of entitlement". Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. >From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He's never had to before this.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him.

5. Tyranny is your creation. What we have today is the natural and inevitable outcome of ideas and policies you have promoted for the last generation. I once knew a guy who was still a Marxist in 1980. Whenever I asked him why Communism had failed in Russia and China, he said "Mistakes were made." He could not believe that Marxism itself was at fault, just as you cannot believe that the ideology of the unregulated free market has created the world we live in today. You are tempted to say: "Mistakes have been made," but in fact, psychologically and sociologically, no mistakes have been made. The unregulated free market has operated to produce a government in its own image. In an unregulated free market, for example, cheating is merely another sort of advantage that, supposedly, market forces might eventually "shake out" of the system. Of course, anyone with common sense understands that cheaters do damage that sometimes cannot be repaired before they are "shaken out," but according to the principles of the unregulated free market, the victims of that sort of damage are just out of luck and the damage that happens to them is just a sort of "culling." It is no accident that our government is full of cheaters--they learned how to profit from cheating when they were working in corporations that were using bribes, perks, and secret connections to cheat their customers of good products, their neighbors of healthy environmental conditions, their workers of workplace safety and decent paychecks. It was only when the corporations began cheating their shareholders that any of you squealed, but you should know from your own experience that the unregulated free market as a "level playing field" was the biggest laugh of the 20th century. No successful company in the history of capitalism has ever favored open competition. When you folks pretended, in the eighties, that you weren't using the ideology of the free market to cover your own manipulations of the playing field to your own advantage, you may have suckered yourselves, and even lots of American workers, but observers of capitalism since Adam Smith could have told you it wasn't going to work.

And then there was the way you used racism and religious intolerance to gain and hold onto power. Nixon was cynical about it--taking the party of Lincoln and reaching out to disaffected southern racists, drumming up a backlash against the Civil Rights movement for the sake of votes, but none of you has been any less vicious. Racism might have died an unlamented death in this country, but you kept it alive with phrases like "welfare queen" and your resistance to affirmative action and taxation for programs to help people in our country with nothing, or very little. You opted not to take the moral high ground and recognize that the whole nation would be better off without racism, but rather to increase class divisions and racial divisions for the sake of your own comfort, pleasure, and profit. You have used religion in exactly the same way. Instead of strongly defending the constitutional separation of church and state, you have encouraged radical fundamentalist sects to believe that they can take power in the US and mold our secular government to their own image, and get rich doing it. The US could have become a moderating force in what seems now to be an inevitable battle among the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, but you have made that impossible by flattering and empowering our own violent and intolerant Christian right.

You have created an imperium, heedless of the most basic wisdom of the Founding Fathers--that at the very least, no man is competent enough or far-seeing enough to rule imperially. Checks and balances were instituted by Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and the rest of them not because of some abstract distrust of power, but because they had witnessed the screw-ups and idiocies of unchecked power. You yourselves have demonstrated the failures of unchecked power--in an effort to achieve it, you have repeatedly contravened the expressed wishes of most Americans, who favor a moderate foreign policy, reasonable domestic programs, a goverrnment that works, environmental preservation, women's rights to contraception, abortion, and a level playing field. Somehow you thought you could mold the imperium to reflect your wishes, but guess what--that's what an imperium is--one man rule. If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.

Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good." You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism." At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

6. As Bad as Bush is, Cheney is Worse.

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002. She has contributed to a wide range of magazines, including The New Yorker, Elle, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The American Prospect, Practical Horseman, The Guardian Sport Monthly, Real Simple, and Playboy. Smiley's latest book is Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, a history and anatomy of the novel as a literary form (Knopf).

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Posted by Hannah at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006

The Gang of Eight

The "Gang of Eight," that select group of representatives who were let in on the National Spy Agenda (N.S.A.) from the very beginning, where were they when they realized that something must be going very wrong when thousands of phone calls and other electronic communications are being routinely intercepted? Why is it that not a one of them had the guts to stand in the well of the House or Senate and denounce these violations of our privacy and the security of our most intimate conversations? Or just buttonhole a couple of reporters in the hallway and whisper that something rotten is going on in Washington?

Maybe most of the current gang just didn't know. After all, only Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert have been there from the beginning and Nancy has been much too busy heading up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and carrying out her leadership functions to pay close attention.

The Senators Reid, Frist, Roberts and Rockefeller, as well as Representatives Hoekstra and Harman, were inducted into the secret club after the program was already well under way. Maybe they simply concluded that their predecessors' judgement ought not to be questioned--that Gebhardt and Daschle and Lott, Graham, Shelby and Porter Goss having signed off on this program of electronic home invasions made it OK.

But where are Gebhardt and Daschle and Graham now that the absurdity of tracking millions of transmissions on the off-chance that some foreign terrorists is making contact with an American cell has been revealed? What's their take on the fact that the F.B.I. has been dispatched to monitor Quakers and the organizers of a vegetarian food kitchen and narry a foreign terrorist has been found? (That Americans continue to be terrorized by domestic hate crimes on a daily basis seems of no interest).

If the "proof is in the pudding" or, in this case, the Mouss (aoui), who's been sending our agents on one wild goose chase after another (during which many a flower garden gets trampled, by the way), then it seems pretty obvious that terrorists of mass destruction (TMD) in the U.S. are about as prevalent as WMD in Iraq.

So, what's the program of mass surveillance really about? Disrupting the network of electronic communications somehow doesn't look like "protecting our freedoms" to me.

Posted by Hannah at 06:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006



Secretary Kofi Annan suggests that racial antagonism and oppression are the consequence of intolerance. This assumes that such attitudes are prompted by a characteristic of the victims. I would disagree. Antagonism towards others is a self-directed low-cost strategy for forging cohesion within a group. It is low-cost or no-cost because the burdens of the excluded are not even perceived by the antagonists.

In prepared remarks on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Secretary Annan stated:

On 21 March 1960, police in apartheid South Africa fired on a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville protesting racially discriminatory laws. Dozens of protestors died, and many more were wounded. Today, we commemorate the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre not only to remember the lives that were lost, but to draw attention to the broader suffering inflicted by racial discrimination worldwide.

The focus of this year's commemoration, "Fighting Everyday Discrimination," challenges us to take meaningful steps to fight commonplace discriminatory practices in our societies. We are all aware that many of man's greatest atrocities have had racial underpinnings, but the collective toll inflicted by routine racism is frequently overlooked. Indeed, the edifices of humanity's most horrific crimes have often been built on the foundations of banal bigotry.


What I would argue is that, while the effects of discriminatory practices are doubtless horrendous for the victims, I don't think the behavior can be changed until we recognize that the practitioners are actually benefiting at someone else's expense and it is the benefits, rather than the attitudes, which have to be removed.

Indeed, when you come right down to it, the victims of antagonism and abuse are tolerated quite well. Their tormentors want to keep them around to beat on, much as abusive parents go to great lengths to keep their children close. Indeed, parental abuse thrives in a social climate which considers their physical assaults on the children as appropriate and classifies them as "correction." Physical violence is endemic in American culture because that's how parents are expected to derive personal satisfaction from the costs associated with begetting and rearing children. Parents, not being socially rewarded for their efforts, are expected to "take it out on their children" by beating a little subservience into them.

And that's what society actually expects to get--subservient citizens who have been beaten into submission by their parents. Those who don't survive this regimen (over five hundred children are murdered on an annual basis, the majority by their parents) are presumably non-compliant or incapable of learning to either submit or practice deception. In any event, what society expects is obviously not what it gets. America has become more violent, not less. That's probably because most humans learn from example, rather than preachments. Those who are beaten end up beating others in turn. And those who tolerate being beaten well tend to expect that others will tolerate it as well.

So, I would suggest that "tolerance" is an unfortunate term if our goal is to develop a strategy that puts an end to man-on-man violence. And it is, by the way, mostly males who perpetrate what we refer to as "discriminatory" attacks. Perhaps it's just a holdover from the bonds forged in the primitive pursuit of animals in the wild.

Posted by Hannah at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

Rachel Corrie

An Israeli bulldozer killed poor Rachel Corrie
As she stood in its path in the town of Rafah
She lost her young life in an act of compassion
Trying to protect the poor people of Gaza
Whose homes are destroyed by tank shells and bulldozers
And whose plight is exploited by suicide bombers
Who kill in the name of the people of Gaza
But Rachel Corrie believed in non-violent resistance
Put herself in harm's way as a shield of the people
And paid with her life in a manner most brutal

But you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears.

Rachel Corrie had 23 years
She was born in the town of Olympia, Washington
A skinny, messy, list-making chain-smoker
Who volunteered to protect the Palestinian people
Who had become non-persons in the eyes of the media
So that people were suffering and no one was seeing
Or hearing or talking or caring or acting
And the horrible math of the awful equation
That brought Rachel Corrie into this confrontation
Is that the spilt blood of a single American
Is worth more than the blood of a hundred Palestinians

But you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears.

The artistic director of a New York theatre
Cancelled a play based on Rachel's writings
But she wasn't a bomber or a killer or fighter
But one who acted in the spirit of the Freedom Riders
Is there no place for a voice in America
That doesn't conform to the Fox News agenda?
Who believes in non-violence instead of brute force
Who is willing to confront the might of an army
Whose passionate beliefs were matched by her bravery
The question she asked rings out round the world
If America is truly the beacon of freedom
Then how can it stand by while they bring down the curtain
And turn Rachel Corrie into a non-person?

Oh, but you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears.

Posted by Hannah at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2006

How Many Manhattans?

According to news reports, one of the American military bases in Western Iraq is almost as large as the island of Manhattan. This raises the question of how many more Manhattans the US intends to settle and occupy for an indefinite period of time.

At first it was thought that fourteen sites would be just fine. But now that the Iraqis seem less than keen to have a permanent American presence in their midst to insure, as Secretary Rumsfeld has explained, "no denial of access" in the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean region, the Pentagon seems to be planning for just four. If they're all the size of Manhattan, having enough room for a hundred thousand troops seems assured.

It may well turn out that the Native Americans who leased out the island of Manhattan for a mere twenty-four dollars actually got a good deal. The Iraqis are getting nothing but blood, sweat and tears, as far as anyone can tell. So much for progress.

One has to wonder how long it will take for Iraq's neighbors to get a clue that their tradition of hospitality is being abused.

Posted by Hannah at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2006

Ah, those bases--II

First the LA Times and now the Boston Globe is covering the (not) "permanent" bases being built in Iraq with a one-year appropriation for construction that's equal to what was spent in the previous four.

When will the next shoe drop? That setting up a military presence was what this whole adventure was about from the get-go? When will they give up the charade and come clean with the American public? After all, the Iraqis know full well what is going on and any country that's sent up satellites can take pictures.

Can we expect John Kerry to step forward and explain the basis for his assertion during the presidential campaign that there should be "no permanent bases" in Iraq? Is anyone going to ask if all this mayhem could have been avoided, it they'd given up this pipe-dream when Saddam Hussein told them "no?"

The Global Security map that accompanies this story (which doesn't appear on line) makes this point:
"While there is no official position on maintaining US bases in iraq, they could be used to install antiballistic missile defenses."

If the Global Security map is correct and there are now 15 American military sites in Kuwait, that would explain why Saddam Hussein's claim to Kuwait was certain to be denied, regardless of how sensible his quest for more frontage on the Persian Gulf was.

Signs of a long US stay ahead
Bases getting bigger, more elaborate

By Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press | March 26, 2006

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that's now the home of as many as 120 US helicopters, a ''heli-park" as good as any back in the States.

At another giant base, Asad in Iraq's western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King and Pizza Hut, a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations, and young bikers clogging the roads.

At a third hub down south, Tallil, they're planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.

Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.

''I think we'll be here forever," said the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The Iraqi people suspect the same. Strong majorities tell pollsters they would like to see a timetable for US troops to leave, but believe Washington plans to keep military bases in their country.

The question of America's future in Iraq looms larger as the US military enters the fourth year of its war here. On Tuesday, President Bush said the decision of when to remove US troops rests with ''future presidents and future governments in Iraq."

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, interim prime minister, has said he opposes permanent foreign bases. A wide range of American opinion is against them, as well. Such bases would be a ''stupid" provocation, said General Anthony Zinni, former US Mideast commander and a critic of the original invasion.

But events, in explosive situations like Iraq's, can turn ''no" into ''maybe" and even ''yes."

The Shi'ite Muslims, ascendant in Baghdad, might decide they need long-term US protection against insurgent Sunni Muslims. Washington might take the political risks to gain a strategic edge -- in its confrontation with next-door Iran, for example.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and other US officials disavow any desire for permanent bases. But long-term access, as at other American bases abroad, is different from ''permanent," and the official US position is carefully worded.

Lieutenant Commander Joe Carpenter, a Pentagon spokesman on international security, said it would be ''inappropriate" to discuss future basing until a new Iraqi government is in place, expected in the coming weeks.

Less formally, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asked about ''permanent duty stations" by a Marine during an Iraq visit in December, allowed that it was ''an interesting question." He said it would have to be raised by the incoming Baghdad government, if ''they have an interest in our assisting them for some period over time."

In Washington, Iraq scholar Phebe Marr finds the language intriguing. ''If they aren't planning for bases, they ought to say so," she said. ''I would expect to hear 'No bases.' "

For 2005-06, Washington has authorized or proposed almost $1 billion for US military construction in Iraq, as American forces consolidate at Balad, known as Anaconda, and a handful of other installations, big bases under the old regime.

They have already pulled out of 34 of the 110 bases they were holding last March, said Major Lee English of the US command's Base Working Group, planning the consolidation.

''The coalition forces are moving outside the cities while continuing to provide security support to the Iraqi security forces," English said.

The move away from cities, perhaps eventually accompanied by US force reductions, will lower the profile of American troops, frequent targets of roadside bombs on city streets. Officers at Asad Air Base, 10 desert miles from the nearest town, say it hasn't been hit by insurgent mortar or rocket fire since October.

Asad will become even more isolated. The proposed 2006 supplemental budget for Iraq operations would provide $7.4 million to extend the no man's land and build new security fencing around the base, which at 19 square miles is so large that many assigned there take the Yellow or Blue bus routes to get around the base, or buy bicycles at a PX jammed with customers.

The latest budget also allots $39 million for new airfield lighting, air traffic control systems, and upgrades allowing Asad to plug into the Iraqi electricity grid -- a typical sign of a long-term base.

At Tallil, besides the new $14 million dining facility, Ali Air Base is to get, for $22 million, a double perimeter security fence with high-tech gate controls, guard towers, and a moat -- in military parlance, a ''vehicle entrapment ditch with berm."

Here at Balad, the former Iraqi Air Force academy 40 miles north of Baghdad, the two 12,000-foot runways have become the logistics hub for all US military operations in Iraq, and major upgrades began last year.

Army engineers say 31,000 truckloads of sand and gravel fed nine concrete-mixing plants on Balad, as contractors laid a $16 million ramp to park the Air Force's huge C-5 cargo planes; an $18 million ramp for workhorse C-130 transports; and the vast, $28 million main helicopter ramp, the length of 13 football fields, filled with attack, transport, and reconnaissance helicopters.

Turkish builders are pouring tons more concrete for a fourth ramp beside the runways, for medical-evacuation and other aircraft on alert. And $25 million was approved for other ''pavement projects," from a special road for munitions trucks to a compound for special forces.

The chief Air Force engineer here, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Hoover, is also overseeing two crucial projects to add to Balad's longevity: equipping the two runways with new permanent lighting, and replacing a weak 3,500-foot section of one runway.

Once that's fixed, ''we're good for as long as we need to run it," Hoover said. Ten years? he was asked. ''I'd say so."

Away from the flight lines, among traffic jams and freshly planted palms, life improves on 14-square-mile Balad for its estimated 25,000 personnel, including several thousand American and other civilians.

They've inherited an Olympic-sized pool and a chandeliered cinema from the Iraqis. They can order their favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor at ice cream counters in five dining halls, and cut-rate Fords, Chevys, or Harley-Davidsons, for delivery at home, at a PX-run ''dealership." On one recent evening, not far from a big 24-hour gym, airmen hustled up and down two full-length, lighted outdoor basketball courts as F-16 fighters thundered overhead.

''Balad's a fantastic base," Brigadier General Frank Gorenc, the Air Force's tactical commander in Iraq, said at his headquarters here.

Could it host a long-term US presence?

''Eventually it could," said Gorenc, commander of the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing. ''But there's no commitment to any of the bases we operate, until somebody tells me that."

In the counterinsurgency fight, Balad's central location enables strike aircraft to reach targets in minutes. And in the broader context of reinforcing the US presence in the oil-rich Mideast, Iraq bases are preferable to aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, said a longtime defense analyst.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

Posted by Hannah at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2006

Trampling the Grass Roots

We're getting reports from all over the country that grass roots efforts to develop candidates for national office that actually represent the interests of their home districts are being trampled by established leaders who've gotten used to making choices that the electorate is expected to rubber stamp come election day.

Now, if these reports were about Republicans, it's what we would expect to hear, since Republican voters tend to be busy people who don't really want to be involved in making decisions about who should lead them. Though this pattern of top-down direction has the now obvious drawback of letting self-serving incompetents take over the government when the interests of the public succumb to croniism and corruption, it seems fair to say that until recently the Democratic tradition of promoting dedicated and competent public servants for public office has served to keep everyone honest.

No longer. It's now becoming increasingly apparent that the Democratic power structure has also become self-centered. Instead of promoting new competence, office holders have organized themselves into club-like groups (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and, for those not currently in office, the Democratic Leadership Council), committed to collecting lots of money in order to promote candidates for public office who agree with them.

Perhaps I'm just simple-minded, but I really can't tell the difference between the DCCC, the DSCC and the DLC and those organized by Republicans (Americans For a Republican Majority and the Rely On Your Belief's Fund), for which Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt are being castigated. From where I sit, these groups are all designed to launder money, to collect dollars from special interest and industries and pass them on to individuals pledged to support those interests once they get elected.

That strikes me as just plain wrong. If public officials are prohibited from taking bribes after they get elected, potential public officials should be precluded from accepting gifts before they get into office--especially from people whose interests may well conflict with those of the citizens who are expected to elect them. Not to mention that public officials should not be in a position of promoting their colleagues' election or re-election prospects.

We've been hearing lots about how much time our public officials have to spend begging for money for their own campaigns. In part that's because the media have grown accustomed to adjusting their political coverage to what they refer to as "viable" candidates--i.e. people from whom the media anticipate significant ad buys to sweeten the bottom lines of an increasingly profit-stressed enterprise.

Political advertising is pure gravy, especially in the electronic media. So, it makes sense that political reporting, which is expensive, is increasingly directed towards candidates whose financial filings provide evidence of lots of money for advertising spots. The problem is that the ability to extract lots of donations has absolutely no relevance to a person's qualifications to carry out the responsibilities of a legislator or, for that matter, administrator of government services. Indeed, the test of "viability" for a candidate (collecting or extorting lots of money) demonstrates talents that we don't even want our public servants to have. How can we expect our national assets to be managed prudently by people who are selected on the basis of how much money they can waste in a short period of time?

But the waste of money isn't even the most critical issue of this pattern that Democrats and Republicans have fallen into. Money is fungible and every dollar can be spent over and over again. Time, on the other hand, is definitely limited and every hour that our active or prospective public servants spend wheedling money out of some sucker or making nice to some tycoon is an hour that's NOT spent doing the public's business. Every hour wasted on the phone to some big shot contributor, is an hour when important legislation isn't being read, when substantive hearings and reviews of spending aren't being conducted, and when the public servant is not becoming better informed about the public's business.

It's been noted recently that the House of Representatives has had an even more abbreviated schedule of official sessions and committee hearings than usual. Some pundits have suggested that's just as well, since their absence from their duties keeps them from creating more mischief and passing ill-informed legislation. That doesn't strike me as a useful attitude. The answer to legislative incompetence and inattention isn't to encourage them to goof off or go play golf. Rather, the answer is to replace them at the next election.

Of course, that's going to be hard, if the media continue to keep the public from even knowing who the competent choices are. The proponents of the free market will probably argue that business failures and public disinterest in the process will eventually force a change. But, that's obviously not how social and political change comes about. The traditional press and the electoral process have all lost the public's interest and yet the only response has been to throw more money after bad. The media try to increase their profits by firing employees and spending less on their products and political groups aim to succeed by reducing the competition with the artificial designation of "viability."

But. lest I haven't been clear, the problem isn't the money that's the focus of interest. The problem is the time, both the candidates' and the electorate's, that's wasted and lost for ever. When people are forced to stand in line for hours just to cast a vote, they've been deprived of something they can never get back. So, it's not surprising that they lose interest in the process.
As a result of which our democracy is on the ropes.

When the grass-roots support candidates with modest contributions, designed to spread the word to their friends and neighbors more efficiently, they're, in effect, voting early, making a decision that the ballot simply confirms. When the political establishment tramples on the grass-roots candidates, they might as well be writing "finis" to democracy. The culture of corruption that has engulfed our federal government wasn't created by Republicans alone. They had a lot of help from a Democratic establishment that's somehow forgotten what it was supposed to be about.

Posted by Hannah at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2006

Ah, those Bases

Looks like Rumsfeld still hasn't come up with an alternative to "permanent" bases. He did tell the Congress that there would have to be another designation for facilities whose crews would have brief "rotations."

Defining a location in terms of how long visitors stay seems like a novel idea. Given that criterion, we could say that the House of Representatives is not a permanent institution since the membership changes every two years and its sessions get shorter every year.

Requests to Build Big U.S. Bases in Iraq Raise Concern
Peter Spiegel, LA Times Staff Writer

March 23, 2006

WASHINGTON — Even as military planners look to withdraw significant numbers of American troops from Iraq in the coming year, the Bush administration continues to request hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases there, raising concerns over whether they are intended as permanent homes for U.S. forces.

Questions on Capitol Hill about the future of the bases have been prompted by the new emergency spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week with $67.6 billion in funding for the war effort, including the base money.

Although the House approved the measure, lawmakers are demanding the Pentagon explain its base plans and have unanimously passed a provision blocking the use of funds for basing agreements with the Iraqi government.

"It's the kind of thing that incites terrorism," said Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, of long-term or permanent U.S. bases in countries such as Iraq.

Paul, a critic of the war, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would make it official U.S. policy not to maintain such bases in Iraq. He noted that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden cited U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia as grounds for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The debate in Congress comes as concerns grow across the country over how long the U.S. intends to keep forces in Iraq, a worry amplified when President Bush earlier this week said that a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq would not occur during his term.

The base intrigue also is problematic in the Middle East, where it lends credence to charges that the U.S. motive for the invasion was to seize Iraqi land and oil. It also feeds debate about the appropriate U.S. relationship with Iraq after the new government fully assumes control.

State Department and Pentagon officials have insisted the bases being constructed inside Iraq will eventually be handed over to the Iraqi government

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Baghdad, last week told Iraqi television that the U.S. has "no goal of establishing permanent bases in Iraq."

Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, added: "We're building permanent bases in Iraq for Iraqis."

But the seemingly definitive administration statements mask a semantic distinction: while officials say they are not building permanent bases, they decline to say whether they will seek a deal with the new Iraqi government allowing long-term troop deployments.

Asked at a congressional hearing last week whether he could "make an unequivocal commitment" that the U.S. officials would not seek to establish permanent bases in Iraq, Army Gen. John Abizaid, the officer in charge of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia replied: "The policy on long-term presence in Iraq hasn't been formulated." Venable, the Pentagon spokesman, said it was "premature and speculative" to discuss a long-term basing agreement before the permanent Iraqi government has been put in place.

All told, the United States has set up 110 forward operating bases in Iraq, and the Pentagon says about 34 of them already have been turned over to the Iraqi government, part of an ongoing effort to gradually strengthen Iraqi security forces.

Bush is under political pressure to reduce the number of U.S. troops before the fall mid-term congressional elections, and the Pentagon is expected to decide soon whether the next major deployment will reflect a significant reduction.

But despite the potential force reductions and the base handovers, the spending has continued.

Dov Zakheim, who oversaw the Pentagon's emergency spending requests as the department's budget chief until 2004, said critics may be reading too much into the costly emergency spending, needed to protect U.S. forces form insurgent attacks or provide better conditions for deployed troops.

"That doesn't necessarily connote permanence," Zakheim said. "God knows it's a tough enough environment anyway."

The bulk of the Pentagon's emergency military construction spending over the last three years inside Iraq has focused on three or four large-scale air and logistics bases that dot central Iraq.

The administration is seeking $348 million in base construction money as part of its 2006 emergency war funding bill. The Senate has not yet acted on the request.

By far the most funding has gone to a mammoth facility just north of Baghdad in Balad, which includes an air base and the Anaconda logistical center. The U.S. Central Command has said it intends to use the base as the military's primary hub in the region as it gradually hands off Baghdad International Airport to civilian authorities.

Through the end last year, the Bush administration spent about $230 million in emergency funds on the Balad base, and its new request includes another $17.8 million for new roads to handle hulking military vehicles and a 12.4-mile, 13-foot high security fence.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted in a report last year that many of the funds already spent, including facilities at Balad, suggest a longer term U.S. presence.

Projects there include an $18 million aircraft parking ramp and $15 million airfield lighting system that has allowed commanders to make Balad a strategic air center for the region; a $2.9 million Special Operations compound, isolated from the rest of the base and complete with landing pads for helicopters and airplanes, where classified payloads can be delivered; and a $7 million mail distribution building.

Other bases also are being developed in ways that lend them to permanent use.

This year's request also includes $110 million for Tallil Air Base outside the southeastern city of Nasiriya, a sprawling facility in the shadow of the ruins of the biblical city of Ur. Only $11 million has been spent so far, but the administration's new request appears to envision Tallil emerging as another major transport hub, with new roads, a new dining hall for 6,000 troops -- about two Army brigades -- and a new center to organize and support large supply convoys.

The administration also has spent $50 million for Camp Taji, an army base north of Baghdad, and $46.3 million on Al Asad Air Base, an airfield in the western desert.

These large bases are being built at the same time hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on separate bases for the growing Iraqi military. According to the U.S. Central Command and data obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, for example, about $165 million has been spent to build an Iraqi base near the southern town of Numaniya and more than $150 million for a northern base at the old Iraqi army's Al Kasik facility.

The big numbers have begun to cause consternation in congressional appropriations committees, which are demanding more accountability from Pentagon officials on military construction in the region.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the president's newest funding bill earlier this month with a strongly-worded warning. In a report accompanying the legislation, the committee noted it has already approved about $1.3 billion in emergency spending for war-related construction, but that the recently declared "long war" on terrorism should allow more oversight of basing plans in the region.

"(I)t has become clear in recent years that these expeditionary operations can result in substantial military construction expenditures of a magnitude normally associated with permanent bases," the committee reported.

Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees military construction, said his panel is concerned that money the Pentagon is seeking ostensibly for short-term, emergency needs actually are going to projects that are not urgent but instead are more long-term in nature.

Walsh pointed to a $167 million request to build a series of roads in Iraq that bypass major cities, a proposal the administration said is needed to decrease convoys' exposure to roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Walsh's subcommittee cut the budget for the project to $60 million. He said the project sounded more like "more like road construction" than it did a strategy to protect troops from IEDs.

The Appropriations Committee also inserted a ban on spending any of the new money on facilities in Iraq until the U.S. Central Command submitted a "master plan" for bases in the region. Abizaid, in his congressional testimony last week, said such a plan was in the process of getting final Pentagon approval for release to the committee. But he noted: "The master plan is fairly clear on everything except for Iraq and Afghanistan, which I don't have policy guidance for long-term."

Without such detail, it may prove impossible for congressional appropriators to get a firm idea on how the Bush administration views the future of the U.S. presence on big Iraqi bases.

In any event, said Zakheim, the former Pentagon budget officer, projects that expand bases' ability to handle American cargo and warplanes will eventually be of use to the Iraqi government.

"Just because the Iraqis don't have an air force now doesn't mean they won't have it several years down the road," Zackheim said.

But critics said it is all the more reason for the administration to stop being vague about the future.

"The Iraqis believe we came for their oil and we're going to put bases on top of their oil," said Rep. Thomas Allen, D-Maine, a critic of the administration's approach. "As long as the vast majority of Iraqis believe we want to be there indefinitely, those who are opposed to us are going to fight harder and those who are with us are going to be less enthusiastic."

Times staff writer Doug Smith contributed to this report.

Posted by Hannah at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Good morning, stop signs

This daily greeting on BFA has inspired a poetic response:

Good Morning, stopsigns
The Blog says hello
with "wrote on" above it
or "posted" below

Good Morning, stopsigns
Commenters, agog
Will read with me all of the-ee
Early morn BFA Blog

Glibby glub gloopy
Libby labby loopy
Blah, blah, blah - LOL LOL
Subby dissy Bobba
Who be Baba Wawa
Dean Dean Ho Ho
Scoopy oopy nada
Newbie oughta whatta
Early morn BFA Blog

(repeat from beginning)

Writing a log
Bandwidth's a hog
Posting a blog

Loving this Blog
Believe and belong
Singing this song

Sing the song
Login and blog
Song song song - sing
Dean Dean Dean - Blog

Posted by Hannah at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Dean Redux

Posted by Hannah at 05:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2006

Peace March 18, 2006


Posted by Hannah at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

Oh Those Bases

First there were fourteen; now there are four. Or. perhaps, four is all the Pentagon brass are willing to admit to, because that's all they've managed to complete so far. After all, the permanent air base constructed in Kuwait with the money diverted from the Afghan adventure was a 'top secret' enterprise until the ribbons were ready to be cut.

Was it Allawi or al-Jaafri who suggested the American troops could "withdraw to their bases" and opened the door to considering in public a much longer term relationship than the Bush Administration is usually willing to admit to?

No doubt, yesterday's comment that the complete removal of American forces from Iraq would be up to other Presidents, as well as the Iraqi governments of the future, will lead some pundits to suggest that Bush is simply trying to shift responsibility somewhere else. But, as a complete history will eventually reveal, the whole adventure in the Middle East was conceived and planned and funded initially by Presidents other than he.

Or rather, other Presidents have followed the same agenda to insure American access and control wherever the "national interest" demands that it go. The phrase Rumsfeld employs is that there shall be "no denial of access." In other words, doors that don't open automatically are suspect. And that, no doubt, includes the doors to the communications networks where, as the deployment of lasers on satellites anticipates, the conflicts of the future are going to be waged. Information!!! That's where global control in the future lies.

Of course, if that's the case, then the N.S.A. home invasions are probably just a trial run to test the capabilities of the networks and figure out how and where they are most easily and affected and disrupted before we spend all that money setting up a network to monitor the Eastern Hemisphere from the monster embassy being outfitted in Baghdad.

If, indeed, the withdrawal of the American occupation is to be put off until another president is elected, that's, of course, an additional incentive to make sure he's a Democrat. Unless, like the last one, the Democratic nominee is content to honor the long-standing custom that foreign relations--the only area in which the executive enjoys virtual autonomy--are not to be discussed or dissected in public.

Though Bush seems particularly keen on its utilization, the veil of secrecy was not invented by the current administration. The American public has been kept in the dark about its "national interest" for decades. How else to explain that the inherent conflict between democracy and super power status has been almost entirely ignored?

Posted by Hannah at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Iraqi Dispatch from Operation Swarmer

Dahr Jamail's reporting is getting more and more specific, though he is beginning to rely on information from the MSM.

No question, if the US goal is to clear territory sufficient for its major military bases, able to be secured by Iraqi forces from grenade and mortar attacks by those who are resistant to the occupation of their lands, then Bush and Pace are accurate in their assessment that things are "going very well."

*Operation Swarm of Lies*
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 20 March 2006

The stated mission of Operation Swarmer, launched late last week in an
area just northeast of Samarra, in Iraq, was to "break up a center of
insurgent resistance" and to disrupt "terrorist activity," according to
the US military.

Comprised of over 1,500 US and Iraqi soldiers, 50 US attack and
transport helicopters airlifted the bold force into a flat area of
farmland filled not with fighters belonging to the "center of insurgent
resistance," but with impoverished farmers, cows, goats and women baking
bread. The first drop of soldiers onto the ground from this
air-operation doubled the meager population of 1,500 souls living in the
50 square-mile area.

US troops acted bravely, snatching up 48 "suspected insurgents," then
promptly releasing 17 of them. They were precise in their operations,
and did not detain a single cow or goat.

What did the military say about why no resistance was met?

"We believe we achieved tactical surprise," said Lt. Col. Edward Loomis,
the spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division.

Fallaciously hailed as the largest air assault in Iraq since the
Anglo-American invasion three years ago, Lt. Col. Loomis said that two
days into the operation his forces "continue to move" through the area,
and "tactical interviews began immediately." According to Time magazine,8599,1174448,00.html

"Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a
television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three
Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer.
Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags
stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm
populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen
dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven. But contrary to what
many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no
means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air
Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting
troops into an area.) In fact, there were no air-strikes and no leading
insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military
analysts described as little more than a photo op. What's more, there
were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the
US and Iraqi commanders."
Of course, the US military claimed that two local leaders of the group
led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were to have been in the area, but alas,
they were not to be caught up in Operation Swarmer or any of the
"tactical interviews."

Meanwhile on Sunday, fresh from a relaxing weekend at Camp David, Mr.
Bush said of Iraq, "I'm encouraged by the progress," while talking to
reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

Bush, his comments sticking to the talking points of his administration
which surround this three year anniversary of the launching of Operation
Iraqi Freedom, nearly mirrored those made recently by General Peter
Pace. Pace, as you recall, when asked on "Meet the Press" about Iraq,
said things were "going very, very well from everything you look at."

Operation Swarm of Lies is part of yet another Cheney administration
media blitz to put a happy face on this horrendously failed misadventure
in Iraq. All too aware of the plummeting US public support for the war
effort, and with approval ratings for the so-called president at an all
time low, Bush had been sent out on the campaign trail to apply fresh
gloss to the tattered sheen of the US occupation of Iraq. Sticking with
their talking points of having Iraqi forces take over security
responsibilities, the primary purpose of Operation Swarm of Lies was
obviously to send the message to Americans that the US military are
allowing Iraqis to "take the fight to the enemy."

But this operation of mass distraction has served other purposes as well.

Operation Swarm of Lies served well in diverting media attention in the
US from US/UK covert operations in Iran last Friday.

Even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported
that Iran's national police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddamm, accused US and British agents of playing a role in the deaths of 21 people in
southeastern Iran. Moghaddamm accused the intelligence services of both
the US and UK of encouraging attacks by Iranian rebel groups against

Operation Swarm of Lies also effectively distracted media attention from
the arrest of an American "security contractor" in Tikrit last week.
According to the Joint Coordination Center between the US and Iraqi
military in Tikrit, "the man is described as a security contractor
working for a private company," and he "possessed explosives which were
found in his car" when he was arrested last Tuesday>.

This incident was also reported on al-Sharqiyah Television on March 14th
, where they added that the man was arrested during an imposed curfew,
and "he had explosives in his car, noting that contacts are being held
between officials in Salah al-Din Governorate and US Army officials
regarding the incident."

Meanwhile back in the Motherland, "Vice" President Cheney said this past
weekend that Iraq is not in a civil war, but that terrorists there were
involved in desperate tactics to stop Iraq's move towards democracy.

"What we've seen is a serious effort by them to foment a civil war,"
Cheney said during an interview on the CBS program "Face the Nation"
recently, "But I don't think they've been successful."

He's right - the Iraqi people have thus far managed, miraculously, to
thwart the ongoing attempts by the occupiers to "foment civil war."

Because the recent incident in Tikrit is but one example of many which
have shown who the real terrorists are in Iraq. Even just last
September, two undercover British SAS soldiers were detained by Iraqi
police in Basra. The Brits were dressed as Iraqis, traveling in an
unmarked civilian car, and "Iraqi security officials ... accused the two
Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant
explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody showed them in
civilian clothes."

According the same article by the Washington Post,
the British military promptly razed the Iraqi jail in order to free
their two soldiers. In response, Mohammed Walli, the governor of the
province, told news agencies that the British assault was "barbaric,
savage and irresponsible."

Barbaric, savage and irresponsible are words that can also be used to
describe the true nature of Operation Swarm of Lies.

Just this past Sunday, the Director of the Monitoring Net of Human
Rights in Iraq (MHRI), Muhamad al-Deraji, issued an appeal to the UN
mission in Baghdad regarding violations committed by the US military
operation near Samarra.

"We have received information from citizens and human rights activists
in Samarra stating that the region, under American and Iraqi military
operation ... is witnessing dangerous human rights violations, which is
confirmed by the following:

1 - The Red Crescent aiding missions are not allowed to enter the region.

2 - [Independent] Press and media are, as well, forbidden from entering
the region.

3 - Women and children are not allowed to leave the region of military

4 - Receipt of news indicates presence of violations and assault for
citizens aiming to terrorize them and forces them to emigrate from this
region, through arresting the men and forcing women and their horrified
children to escape later on and leave the region, aiming to build a
military base there."

Most importantly, however, is the human tragedy which Operation Swarm of
Lies has both generated as well as diverted attention from.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, via the
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on Sunday,
"Hundreds of families displaced due to major offensive."

The report says "hundreds of families have fled the city of Samarra" as
the result of Operation Swarmer. Barakat Muhammad, a resident and father
of five who lives in Samarra told IRIN, "When they started to hit our
city I didn't take anything. I just took my family and ran like hell. We
don't have anything to eat or wear."

Despite claims by the US military that no shots were fired, obviously
bombs were dropped on civilians.

The IRIN report adds that "local doctors say that at least 35 civilians,
including women and children, have been treated at the local hospital
with injuries caused by the air strikes. In addition, 18 bodies had been
taken to the hospital since 17 March."

Yet there have been ongoing air strikes north/northeast of Baghdad since
at least last Wednesday.

According to the aforementioned Iraqi NGO MHRI, as well as AP reporters,
"eleven people - most of them women and children - have been killed
after US forces bombed a house during a raid north of Baghdad." The US
military acknowledged
the raid which occurred near Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, but said only four people were killed - a man, two women and a child.

Relatives, however, said 11 bodies wrapped in blankets were driven in
the back of three pickup trucks to the Tikrit General Hospital, about 40
miles north of where the air strike occurred.

As usual, reality contradicted the claims by the US military of only
four dead, when AP photographs showed the bodies of two men, five
children and four other covered figures arriving at the hospital
accompanied by grief-stricken relatives.

Even a police captain from nearby Samarra, Laith Mohammed, said that
American warplanes and armor were used in the strike which flatted the
house, killing all 11 people inside.

An AP reporter at the scene of the bombing in the rural area of Isahaqi
said "the roof of the house collapsed, three cars were destroyed and two
cows killed."

Riyadh Majid, the nephew of the head of the family who was killed, told
the AP that US forces landed in helicopters and raided the home early
last Wednesday. Ahmed Khalaf, the brother of the deceased head of the
household, said nine of the victims were family members who lived at the
house and two were visitors.

"The killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and
children," said Khalaf, "The Americans have promised us a better life,
but we get only death."

As per their now standard operating procedure, the US military claimed
the strike targeted an individual "suspected" of supporting al-Qaida.
And as usual, the military claimed they were under attack from the house.

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building,"
according to Tech. Sgt. Stacy Simon, "Coalition forces returned fire
utilizing both air and ground assets."

And the al-Qaida suspects killed by this particular air strike were of
the younger variety this time around, again as usual for the US military in Iraq.

But of course, all of this was effectively overshadowed by Operation
Swarm of Lies.


To view more photos of the results of the US air-strike on the home in

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website.

Posted by Hannah at 06:53 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Bully in the Pulpit

Who let the bully into the pulpit?

That's the question Republicans are going to have to answer for themselves.

More important. Is the bully in the pulpit an inevitable hazzard for people who prefer to defer to "leaders?"

Posted by Hannah at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2006

The Iraq Punditry

Let's remember now:

"The Final Word Is Hooray!"
Remembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna pundits


[Please see the correction to this advisory at the bottom of the page.]

Weeks after thse invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.

"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."

Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.

Declaring Victory

"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?"
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/13/03)

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)

"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

"Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we'd seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking."
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation--Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)

Mission Accomplished?

"The war winds down, politics heats up.... Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific."
(PBS's Gwen Ifill, 5/2/03, on George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech)

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

Neutralizing the Opposition

"Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)

"If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?"
(CNN's Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)

"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Nagging the "Naysayers"

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

"I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war....

"Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that -- quote, 'The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated.' Sorry, Scott. I think you've been chasing the wrong tail, again.

"Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don't call them 'elitists' for nothing."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
(Fox News Channel's Dick Morris, 4/9/03)

"This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right."
(New York Times reporter David Carr, 4/16/03)

"Well, the hot story of the week is victory.... The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray."
(Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

"Some journalists, in my judgment, just can't stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

"Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn't figured out we won the war."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)


"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."
(Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate-- cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

"It won't take weeks. You know that, professor. Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there's no question that it will."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"There's no way. There's absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it's maybe hours. They're going to fold like that."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"He [Saddam Hussein] actually thought that he could stop us and win the debate worldwide. But he didn't--he didn't bargain on a two- or three week war. I actually thought it would be less than two weeks."
(NBC reporter Fred Francis, Chris Matthews Show, 4/13/03)

Weapons of Mass Destruction

NPR's Mara Liasson: Where there was a debate about whether or not Iraq had these weapons of mass destruction and whether we can find it...

Brit Hume: No, there wasn't. Nobody seriously argued that he didn't have them beforehand. Nobody.
(Fox News Channel, April 6, 2003)

"Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it."
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

"Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of 'the green mushroom' over Baghdad--the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time."
(Newsweek, 3/17/03)

"Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them."
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

"Even in the flush of triumph, doubts will be raised. Where are the supplies of germs and poison gas and plans for nukes to justify pre-emption? (Freed scientists will lead us to caches no inspectors could find.) What about remaining danger from Baathist torturers and war criminals forming pockets of resistance and plotting vengeance? (Their death wish is our command.)"
(New York Times' William Safire, 4/10/03)


This advisory mistakenly included an out-of-context quote from William Raspberry’s April 14, 2003 Washington Post column. FAIR's advisory inaccurately presented Raspberry’s column as an example of overly optimistic pundit commentary about the invasion of Iraq. Contrary to FAIR’s presentation, Raspberry’s column called attention to and rejected the same sort of premature triumphalism and marginalization of critics that was the subject of FAIR's media advisory. FAIR should have presented the Raspberry column as an exceptional example of a media figure challenging the conventional wisdom early in the Iraq War.

FAIR sincerely regrets the error and offers an apology to William Raspberry and to our readers.

Also in the advisory, the Tony Snow item originally dated 4/27/03 has been corrected to 4/13/03.

And a more realistic analysis from Iraq itself.
March 21, 2006

Death Squad Democracy:

"I constantly read the analyses of foreigners or Iraqis who’ve been abroad for decades talking about the divide that has always existed between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq…That is simply not true". --- "Baghdad Burning", girl blogger [Riverbend]

The notion that Iraq is now consumed by civil war depends on a number of assumptions that are inherently false. First of all, it assumes that the Pentagon is ignoring the fundamental principle which underscores all wars: "Know your enemy". In this case, there’s no doubt about who the enemy is; it is the 87% of the Iraqi people who want to see an immediate end to the American occupation. Therefore, the greatest threat to American objectives of permanent bases and occupation is the camaraderie that that manifests itself in the form of Arab solidarity or Iraqi nationalism.

To this end, the Pentagon, through its surrogates in the media, has created a "self-fulfilling" narrative that civil war is already under way. Most of the war coverage now makes it appear as though the violence is generated from ethnic tensions and sectarian hatred. But is it? Some of the more astute observers have noticed that other parts of the propaganda war, (like references to the "imaginary" al-Zarqawi) have vanished from the newspapers, as government spin-doctors are now devoting all their time to promoting their latest product-line: civil war.

In fact, if any of us were involved in the Pentagon’s "pacification" plans we’d probably be doing the same thing. After all, the War Department is already overextended, so a plan had to be devised to divert attention from the occupation forces and get Iraqis to kill each other. The only reasonable choice is to incite "sectarian violence" and make civil war inevitable. That, of course, is the task of the American trained death squads. (The New York Times has confirmed that the Interior Ministry death squads were trained by American forces)

For three years the Iraqi resistance has successfully kept American troops on the defensive; gradually taking control of more area, destroying pipelines and oil facilities at will, discouraging enlistment in the Iraqi Security Forces, and undermining public support among Americans (63% of who now believe the war was "a mistake")

These are the goals of every guerilla movement; a gradual erosion of public support, deflating morale, surprise attacks, and eliciting greater support from the general population. It is clear that this has been a winning strategy for the resistance, and not one that they would abandon to pursue an ethnic/religious war.

So, where does the violence originate? Could it be that the independent militias are engaged in sectarian war without help from the greater resistance? It could be, but it’s not likely. Again, the only one who benefits from civil war is the US military; and it’s clear that the military has no other option but to follow a "divide and rule" strategy. They simply don’t have the human resources for any other plan.


Video footage of a massacre outside of Nahrwan, east of Baghdad, has appeared on the Internet showing the bodies of Shiite laborers who were allegedly killed by Sunni death squads. Journalist Paul McGeough was given the tapes and is planning to report on their content in the "Sydney Morning Herald". In one incident, four adults were pulled from their vehicle and either shot or stabbed to death in front of a 5 year old boy whose father was one of the victims. When the townspeople came to investigate the scene, they discovered the bodies of 48 men and women who had been dumped in a ditch. The corpses showed the signs of having been "systematically murdered. Most were shot but some appear to have been stabbed and mutilated".

It is the "stabbed and mutilated" part that should interest us. After all, the intention of the Iraqi resistance is to gather greater support for their cause, not to alienate ordinary Iraqis through gratuitous acts of murder. If, however, this was the work of American-backed death squads, then the alternate goal of "governing through terror" has been achieved.

Posted by Hannah at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

News From Florida

Spring has come and gone in north Florida. Most of the showy azaleas have already dropped their flowers and the wild plum's wreath of white has turned to little green plums.

People continue to stream to north Florida from other parts of the state. A large number seem to be attracted by the accessibility of resources like shopping and entertainment without having to get in a car and drive long distances or at night. So, node development seems to be having a positive effect.

Particularly rewarding is the apparent commitment to preserving and up-grading fresh-water resources, filtering storm-water, and cleaning up contamination from decades past.

Good news, for once.

Posted by Hannah at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Democrats Abroad Weigh In

WHEREAS, the Bush/Cheney Administration has proven that it cannot competently manage the affairs of State;

WHEREAS, the Bush/Cheney Administration has proven that it cannot competently manage the affairs of State;
WHEREAS, Democrats Abroad has previously called for the censure by Congress of George Bush and Dick Cheney;
WHEREAS, it is now apparent that not only is this administration incompetent, but that it is also deeply corrupt;
WHEREAS, George Bush, Dick Cheney and others in this Administration have expressed their contempt for the rule of law and shown disdain for the rights secured to all men and women under the Constitution;
WHEREAS, there is now credible evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors at the highest levels of the administration;
WHEREAS, the keys to effective democracy are respect for the Constitution and the rule of law and the accountability of elected officials;
WHEREAS, the United States was founded upon the notion that the rule of law is higher than the ruler and that tyranny in any form is intolerable;
That Democrats Abroad calls for the immediate appointment of an independent special prosecutor with full power and authority to investigate criminal acts committed by members of this Administration and institute criminal proceedings were appropriate; and that Democrats Abroad supports HR635 and calls on Congress to begin open, full, thorough, bi-partisan Congressional investigations immediately to determine whether impeachable offenses have been committed by George Bush and Dick Cheney and, in the affirmative, to begin impeachment proceedings against George Bush and Dick Cheney immediately.

Posted by Hannah at 05:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

On Loonies

How did the loonies gain the upper hand?

That's a good question.

The answer, I think, is that on the one hand they lied and on the other they took advantage of the fact that most Americans have no interest in dominating the globe. The latter, of course, is the main reason why they had to lie.

Given that the goals of the majority of the American people have been over-thrown, history will probably conclude that these people are guilty of treason.

It's sometimes hard to see what one is in the middle of.

The predicate for this hijacking of American goals was the oft-reiterated assertion that foreign policy, the President's sole prerogative, should never be discussed or challenged, especially not during the election process. This position was actually first promulgated in modern times by Vandenburg, a Democrat.

In any event, the notion that "partisan" considerations should stop at the water's edge and America's position vis a vis the rest of the globe should never be a subject of public review is nothing short of assinine in an environment where everyone and everything is connected to everything else.
The justification for keeping our positions on foreign policy secret was always the same--our enemies might find out. Well, in fact, our enemies, such as they are, already know what Americans are doing all over the globe. The only people kept in the dark, are the American voters whose interests are supposed to be predominant.

The whole system represents nothing so much as a disfunctional family where the drunkard and philandering parents make sure to give the children a good whipping on a regular basis so they won't be impudent enough to challenge the malfeasance that's robbing them of physical and psychological support.

That's the "family values" pattern for which so many of our leaders yearn. Oh for the good old days when the hoi poloi knew their place and stayed in it!

Posted by Hannah at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2006

Dissent from the Heart

Some things an American patriot should not have to do.

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the US Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the USS Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn "to protect and defend". Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator's wings.

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a US Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.

Joseph W. DuRocher

Posted by Hannah at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Spring Lamb


Howard continues to inspire. Read Molly Ivins

Enough of the D.C. Dems
by Molly Ivins

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don?t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don?t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can?t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can?t even see straight.

Look at their reaction to this Abramoff scandal. They?re talking about ?a lobby reform package.? We don?t need a lobby reform package, you dimwits, we need full public financing of campaigns, and every single one of you who spends half your time whoring after special interest contributions knows it. The Abramoff scandal is a once in a lifetime gift?a perfect lesson on what?s wrong with the system being laid out for people to see. Run with it, don?t mess around with little patches, and fix the system.

As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:

1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it?s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.

2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.

3) Single-payer health insurance.

Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, ?unpatriotic? by a bunch of rightwingers.

Take ?unpatriotic? and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? ?Unpatriotic?? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.

This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.

Who are these idiots talking about Warner of Virginia? Being anodyne is not sufficient qualification for being President. And if there?s nobody in Washington and we can?t find a Democratic governor, let?s run Bill Moyers, or Oprah, or some university president with ethics and charisma.

What happens now is not up to the has-beens in Washington who run this party. It is up to us. So let?s get off our butts and start building a progressive movement that can block the nomination of Hillary Clinton or any other candidate who supposedly has ?all the money sewed up.?

I am tired of having the party nomination decided before the first primary vote is cast, tired of having the party beholden to the same old Establishment money.

We can raise our own money on the Internet, and we know it. Howard Dean raised $42 million, largely on the web, with a late start when he was running for President, and that ain?t chicken feed. If we double it, it gives us the lock on the nomination. So let?s go find a good candidate early and organize the shit out of our side.

Molly Ivins writes in this space every month. Her latest book is ?Who Let the Dogs In??

© 2006 The Progressive

Posted by Hannah at 02:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

How ignorant can you get?

Newspaper reporters famously claim that they have no control over the headlines that grace their articles. It's always some unidentified headline-writer who's at fault and it's never explained how a person who mis-apprehends what a story actually says gets such a job. In this case, it's not the headline-writer who doesn't understand that there's a difference between a politically motivated allegation and a judicial procedure--making a criminal charge or indictment. CNN seems to consider that indictment is a joke.


Posted by Hannah at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)


Posted by Hannah at 06:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2006

Minnesotta is resolved

WHEREAS, Section 603 of the Manual of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives provides for impeachments to be initiated on a motion based on charges transmitted from a state legislature, and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has committed high crimes and misdemeanors as he has repeatedly and intentionally violated the United States Constitution and other laws of the United States, particularly the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Torture Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution is a treaty as part of the "supreme law of the land",

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant", all in subversion of law, and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has ordered and authorized the Attorney General to override judicial orders for the release of detainees under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS) jurisdiction, even though the judicial officer after full hearing has determined that a detainee is held wrongfully by the Government, and

WHEREAS, George W. Bush has ordered at least thirty times the National Security Agency to intercept and otherwise record international telephone and other signals and communications by American citizens without warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, and designated certain U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants", all in violation of constitutional guarantees of due process, and

WHEREAS George W. Bush has admitted that he willfully and repeatedly violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and boasted that he would continue to do so, each violation constituting a felony,

NOW THEREFORE the Minnesota DFL Party submits that his actions and admissions constitute ample grounds for his impeachment, and that the General Assembly of the State of Minnesota has good cause for submitting charges to the U.S. House of Representatives under Section 603 as grounds for George W. Bush's impeachment.
The Minnesota DFL Party further submits that Articles of Impeachment should charge that George W. Bush has violated his constitutional oath to execute faithfully the office of President and to the best of his ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
In all of this George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the State of Minnesota and of the United States.

WHEREFORE, George W. Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any offices of honor, trust or profit under the United States.

March 7, 2006

Posted by Hannah at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

Censorship in Iraq

There's a report from a Marine on wonkette that our troops in Iraq are having their access to the internel censored and it sure looks like it's political. No wonder 72% of the troops are eager to get out of there and come home. Bad enough that they're prohibited from revealing where the big permanent bases are abuilding. Now they're not even trusted to evaluate "Politics/Opinion" on their own.

An operative reports:

Unfortunately anonomizers don't work out here (never have). Anyway, I had a few minutes today and thought I'd look and see what else was banned on the Marine web here. I think the results speak for themselves:

* Wonkette – “Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Forum/Bulletin Boards, Politics/Opinion.”
* Bill O’Reilly ( – OK
* Air America ( – “Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion.”
* Rush Limbaugh ( – OK
* ABC News “The Note” – OK
* Website of the Al Franken Show ( – “Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion.”
* G. Gordon Liddy Show ( – OK
* Don & Mike Show ( – “Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Profanity, Entertainment/Recreation/Hobbies.”

Posted by Hannah at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

We Will Not be Silenced

Posted by Hannah at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Unprotected Kurds

Kevin McKiernan, writing an op-ed in the Boston Globe, has come closer to what seems to him an unthinkable conclusion concerning the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein obviously didn't have. No doubt he's been reluctant to do so for a long time, since he's been following the fortunes of the Iraqi Kurds for a decade.

McKiernan has been painfully aware since before the invasion in 2003 that the people who were most likely to be attacked with chemical and biological weapons in retaliation (because they'd been the object of such behavior before) had not been provided with the promised protective gear and, as a result, faced the American assault, which they had been apprised of almost two years before it actually happened, with extraordianry fear and trepidation.

As it turned out, their fears were not realized. There were no chemical or biological attacks against the Kurds or anyone else. Because there were no such weapons left to disperse. But, did the Bushes know that? That's the question McKiernan has been reluctant to ask; preferring to conclude, one suspects, that the failure to protect our allies was just another example of poor planning and negligence.

It's the other alternative that McKiernan still doesn't want to confront--that the Kurds were left unprotected because the Bushes knew there was nothing they needed protecting from.

Perhaps it was any consideration of this alternative that Rumsfeld intended to defuse with his other famous, albeit cryptic, pronouncement that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." In fact, that's exactly what it's turned out to be. If there ever was any evidence to discover, it had to be so well hidden in such an out-of-the-way place, that natural deterioration would have rendered it unusuable anyway.

Be that as it may, I don't share McKiernan's consternation at having to consider the possibility that the weapons of mass destruction were a lie. Because that's what I concluded long ago. It went right along with the lie that there were no plans for the after-math of the invasion. The design and funding of fourteen "permanent" bases in the Pentagon's budget is not evidence of a lack of planning. Neither is the targeted destruction of the electric grid, telecommunications, drinking water systems and sewer plants.

If anything, those behaviors indicate a well-thought-out plan about which territory to seize and what to do with it--a plan that had been in the works for a couple of decades and could have been implemented without an invasion if Saddam Hussein had just co-operated and gone along as Clinton and Kerry, no doubt, argued for a decade that he would, if sufficient international sanctions were applied.

Whether the reason Saddam Hussein couldn't be persuaded was because the U.S. had failed the tested when he challenged them to show what was in it for Iraq by going into Kuwait or because he realized that his Arab neighbors would never acceed to a permanent Western presence in its midst, the reality is that a foothold for the American military in the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean region was a bad idea to begin with. It's not what the American people want their country to be about. Americans want to be number one. But it's gentle persuasion they want to rely on; not military force.

Posted by Hannah at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

Talabani's Deal

Talabani said Abizaid assured him today that US forces "are ready to stay as long as we ask them, no matter what the period is."

Now, that's a surprise. Not. Considering that the original goal (going back twenty years) was to set up a permanent presence for American forces in the Middle East, both as a component of the so-called "national missile defense" and to more easily track communications in the Eastern Hemisphere and, if Saddam Hussein had just gone along with this plan, there would have been no need to invade Iraq and remove their government, al-Talabani's assertion has to be suspect.

While it's possible that al-Talabani is willing to trade a permanent American military presence in Iraq in order to foil having a government run by al-Jaafri, pledging, in effect, to deliver what al-Jaafri has obviously agreed to, since the occupation is almost certain to be resisted as long as it continues, it's possible that al-Talabani, just as wily as Saddam Hussein, in promising something that hasn't been officially asked for, will find it convenient to withdraw his "request" just as soon as his political position is secure.

While the Kurds of Iraq have long been subject to Arab domination, there's little indication that they are keen on the American occupation. Indeed, the resistance has been just as fierce around Mosul and Kirkuk, as it has been in al-Anbar province, where water resources seem to be a major attraction for locating military bases.

In any event, the prospect that an American presence is going to be tolerated as it was in Western Europe is highly unlikely for the simple reason that Americans, being such poor guests, are always going to be perceived as an occupying force. It wasn't religious sensibilities which made the American presence in Saudi Arabia untenable; it was their abject failure in accommodating themselves to the local culture. Spreading democracy is not going to change the perception that Americans are just plain rude. Because it's true. Just look at George Bush.

Posted by Hannah at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2006

Amy's Back

When she was associated with the College Republicans National Committee, Amy Ridenour was responsible for an infamous letter to seniors.

One critic wrote "I have since gotten hold of the most infamous of Response Dynamics' fundraising letters. If anything, the account which appeared in the Washington Post was too kind. The mailer begins, in bold uppercase lettering, as follows: 'I AM SENDING YOU THE ENCLOSED AMERICAN FLAG LAPEL PIN, BUT IT IS NOT YOURS TO KEEP. YOU SEE, I AM ASKING YOU TO GIVE THIS SPECIAL LAPEL PIN TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH FOR HIM TO WEAR AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION' It conti...nues, 'I HAVE GONE TO EXTREME LENGTHS TO PUT THIS SIMPLE LAPEL PIN INTO YOUR HANDS. BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN SUCH A PATRIOT...I WANTED TO GIVE YOU A SPECIAL PLACE IN HISTORY.' The letter ends imploring, 'BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR GENEROUS $1000 CONTRIBUTION TO REPUBLICAN HEADQUARTERS WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAPEL PIN.' Like most of the fundraising letters, it bears the signature of CRNC Treasurer Paul Gourley. "
But Amy Ridenour was credited with authorship.

Now, it seems that Ms. Ridenour's talents are being employed on an international scale. "Raw Story" reports:

After critical article, conservative nonprofit accuses Raw Story of violating copyright

John Byrne
Published: March 3, 2006

The National Center for Public Policy Research, the conservative nonprofit where fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff served as a director, has instructed RAW STORY to remove a fundraising letter the group sent in 2004.

Noland MacKenzie Canter, III, a lawyer for the group, says the publication of the center?s fundraising letter violates their copyright. To many outside Washington, the center is known for being the group that Abramoff used to cover posh junkets for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

RAW STORY published the letter in January of 2005. The story it accompanied detailed the effort by the conservative nonprofit to raise money from senior citizens by disguising a solicitation for a political donation under the guise of a ?Task Force? to save Social Security.

Cease and desist came after article linking president, Abramoff client

The call for the letter?s removal comes quickly on the heels of an article raising questions about Ridenour?s role in writing an editorial that favored Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, a client of Abramoff?s who paid $1.2 million to arrange a visit with President Bush in 2002. At the time of the editorial, Abramoff was a board member of Ridenour's group.

In her editorial, published in the Washington Times, Ridenour declared that Mahathir?s opponent Anwar Ibrahim had ?close links to radical Islamic fundamentalist groups? and sought to ?destabilize? the Malaysian government.

First page of letter ordered to be removed.

Selected comments from other pages.

Posted by Hannah at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2006

Iraqi Dispatch

Yes, Negroponte and the Bushes care if there is a civil war in Iraq. It's what they want. Unless the Iraqi people cry "uncle" and agree to a permanent presence of American missiles and monitoring stations, those who object to the "occupation" will have to be wiped out.

You'd think that Vietnam would have taught us that military control of the Eastern Hemisphere is hopeless. But that's not the message the architects of the New World Order took away. The new world, not old Europe, is destined to rule the globe and no little pipsqueak country of brown people is going to stand in our way.

Mayhem is good.

Negroponte's 'Serious Setback'

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 03 March 2006

John Negroponte, the US National Intelligence Director, provided
testimony on Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on
"global threats."

Negroponte, who was the US ambassador to Iraq from June 2004 to April
2005, was immediately promoted to his current position after his
presence in Iraq. Ironically, he warned the committee on Tuesday, "If
chaos were to descend upon Iraq or the forces of democracy were to be
defeated in that country ... this would have implications for the rest
of the Middle East region and, indeed, the world."

Warning of the outcome of a possible civil war in Iraq, Negroponte said
sectarian civil war in Iraq would be a "serious setback" to the global
war on terror. Note - he did not say it would be a "serious setback" to
the Iraqi people, over 1,400 of whom have been slaughtered in sectarian
violence touched off by the bombing of the Golden Mosque last week in

No, the violence and instability in Iraq would be a "serious setback" to
the global "war on terror."

But it's interesting for him to continue, "The consequences for the
people of Iraq would be catastrophic," whilst feigning his concern.
Because generating catastrophic consequences for civilian populations
just happens to be his specialty.

If we briefly review the political history of John Negroponte, we find a
man who has had a career bent toward generating civilian death and
widespread human rights abuses, and promoting sectarian and ethnic violence.

Remember when Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras, from 1981 to
1985? While there he earned the distinction of being accused of
widespread human rights violations by the Honduras Commission on Human
Rights while he worked as "a tough cold warrior who enthusiastically
carried out President Ronald Reagan's strategy," according to cables
sent between Negroponte and Washington during his tenure there.

The human rights violations carried out by Negroponte were described as

These violations Negroponte oversaw in Honduras were carried out by
operatives trained by the CIA. Records document his "special
intelligence units," better known as "death squads," comprised of
CIA-trained Honduran armed units which kidnapped, tortured and killed
hundreds of people. Victims also included US missionaries (similar to
Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq) who happened to witness many of the

Negroponte had full knowledge of these activities, while he made sure US
military aid to Honduras increased from $4 million to $77.4 million a
year during his tenure, and the tiny country became so jammed with US
soldiers it was dubbed the "USS Honduras."

It is also important to remember that Negroponte oversaw construction of
the air base where Nicaraguan Contras were trained by the US. This air
base, El Aguacate, was also used as a secret detention and torture
center during his time in Honduras.

While Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras, civilian deaths
sky-rocketed into the tens of thousands. During his first full year, the
local newspapers carried no less than 318 stories of extra-judicial
attacks by the military.

He has been described as an "old fashioned imperialist" and got his
start during the Vietnam War in the CIA's Phoenix program, which
assassinated some 40,000 Vietnamese "subversives."

Negroponte's death squads used electric shock and suffocation devices in
interrogations, kept their prisoners naked, and when a prisoner was no
longer useful he was brutally executed.

Outraged at the human rights abuses by the Reagan-Bush administration,
in 1984 Nicaragua took its case to the World Court in The Hague. The
decision of the court was for the Reagan-Bush administration to
terminate its "unlawful use of force" in international terrorism and pay
substantial reparations to the victims. The White House responded by
brushing off the court's findings and vetoed two UN Security Council
resolutions that affirmed the judgment that all states must observe
international law.

In the middle of Negroponte's tenure in Iraq, the Pentagon (read Donald
Rumsfeld) openly considered using assassination and kidnapping teams
there, led by the Special Forces.

Referred to not-so-subtly as "the Salvador option," the January 2005
rhetoric from the Pentagon publicized a proposal that would send Special
Forces teams to "advise, support and possibly train" Iraqi "squads."
Members of these squads would be hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga militia
and Shia Badr militiamen used to target Sunni resistance fighters and
their sympathizers.

What better man to make this happen than John Negroponte? His experience
made him the perfect guy for the job. What a nice coincidence that he
just happened to be in Baghdad when the Pentagon/Rumsfeld were
discussing "the Salvador option."

Fast forward to present day Iraq, which is a situation described by the
Washington Post in this way: "Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the
morgue at midday Monday - blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed,
garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their
heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound."

The Independent newspaper from London recently reports that hundreds of
Iraqis each month are tortured to death or executed by death squads
working out of the Shia-run Ministry of Interior.

During the aforementioned committee hearing, Negroponte said that the US
is concerned about the purchasing of arms by Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez. Negroponte accused Chavez of using funds generated from the sale
of oil to purchase weaponry, saying, "It's clear that he is spending
hundreds of millions, if not more, for his very extravagant foreign
policy at the expense of the impoverished Venezuelan population."

Coincidentally, on the exact same day he said this, the US State
Department announced that the only new rebuilding money in its latest
budget request for Iraq is for prisons.

With no other big building projects scheduled for Iraq in the next year,
the State Department coordinator for Iraq is asking Congress for $100
million for prisons, while the Iraqi people languish with 3.2 hours of
electricity daily in the average home, staggering unemployment and
horrendous security, with most still dependent upon a monthly food ration.

Meanwhile John Pace, the Human Rights Chief for the UN Assistance
Mission in Iraq until last month, recently stated that he believes the
US has violated the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and is fueling the
violence via raiding Iraqi homes and detaining thousands of innocent
Iraqis. Pace estimates that between 80-90% of Iraqi detainees are innocent.

During an interview on Democracy Now!, when asked to described the role
of the militias in Iraq, Pace said "they first started as a kind of
militia, sort of organized armed groups, which were the military wing of
various factions. And they have - they had a considerable role to play
in the [security] vacuum that was created by the invasion."

He went on to describe their actions: "So you have these militias now
with police gear and under police insignia basically carrying out an
agenda which really is not in the interest of the country as a whole.
They have roadblocks in Baghdad and other areas, they would kidnap other
people. They have been very closely linked with numerous mass executions

Pace, when asked if there were death squads in Iraq, replied, "I would
say yes, there are death squads," and "my observations would confirm
that at least at a certain point last year and in 2005, we saw numerous
instances where the behavior of death squads was very similar, uncannily
similar to that we had observed in other countries, including El Salvador."

What we're witnessing in Iraq now with these death squads and escalating
sectarian violence is the product of policies implemented by Negroponte
when he was the US Ambassador in Iraq.

But let us remove the covert operations factor for a moment.

For over a year now, Shia death squads have been killing Sunni en masse.

Thus, at first glance, the bombing of the Golden Mosque last week as
Sunni retaliation makes sense.

However, what doesn't make sense is the immediate showing of solidarity
between Shia and Sunni clerics following the bombing.

Let us now reinsert the covert operations factor into this equation.

Along with the showing of religious solidarity, there is widespread
belief by Shiite religious clerics both in and outside Iraq, as well as
belief in the Arab media, that US covert operations were behind the bombing:

* Shiite Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr blamed the United States occupation for
the current violence. He recently stated, "My message to the Iraqi
people is to stand united and bonded, and not to fall into the Western
trap. The West is trying to divide the Iraqi people. As God is my
witness, I hereby demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of
the occupation forces from Iraq."

* In another interview, Sadr stated, "We say that the occupiers are
responsible for such crisis [Golden Mosque bombing] ... there is only
one enemy. The occupier."

* Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Iraqi Vice President, held the American
Ambassador [Zalmay Khalilzad] responsible for the bombing of the Golden
Mosque, "especially since occupation forces did not comply with curfew
orders imposed by the Iraqi government."

He added, "Evidence indicates that the occupation may be trying to
undermine and weaken the Iraqi government."
* At a major demonstration in Beirut, prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric
and Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said America and
Israel are to blame for the sectarian divisions in Iraq, claiming that
the violence will offer further justifications for maintaining the
occupation of Iraq.

* According to the Saudi-based Arab News editorial, a civil-war scenario
may serve the interests of the Bush administration: "This may in the end
be what Washington wants, because if Iraq plunges into chaos, it could
be the Bush ticket out of the Iraq debacle, albeit paid for in rivers of
Iraqi blood as well the utter humiliation of the president's
administration and its neo-con agenda."

* Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, urged Iraqi Shia
not to seek revenge against Sunni Muslims, saying there were definite
plots "to force the Shia to attack the mosques and other properties
respected by the Sunni," and blamed the intelligence services of the US
and Israel for being responsible for the bombing of the Golden Mosque.

* Hoseyn Shari'atmadarit wrote in the Keyhan newspaper of Iran on
February 25 of several instances of documented covert operations carried
out by occupation forces in Iraq, including: "In Shahrivar two British
intelligence officers were arrested [in September 2005] at an inspection
post while carrying a considerable amount of explosives, detonators and
other equipment necessary to build a bomb. This event certainly shows
the direct involvement of the English intelligence service in the
bombings in Iraq ... The commander of the English military deployed in
Basra [then] issued an order to attack the police centre and release two
English saboteurs."

In the recent committee meeting, Negroponte told US senators he was
seeing progress in Iraq. He said, "And if we continue to make that kind
of progress, yes, we can win in Iraq."

Evidently the kind of progress John Negroponte sees in Iraq is not the
kind that benefits the Iraqi people. Because the only progress in Iraq,
apart from building prisons, is for the situation to continue growing
progressively worse by deepening sectarian divides, despite the best
efforts of religious leaders to create peace and unity.

Would civil war in Iraq be a "serious setback" for John Negroponte?
Because the sectarian violence happening in Iraq right now is already a
"serious setback" for the Iraqi people.

Thus, does Negroponte really care if there is civil war? Does he really
concern himself with the wellbeing of the Iraqi people? Or is his main
concern creating the catastrophe which keeps them divided?

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website.

But let us remove the covert operations factor for a moment.

For over a year now, Shia death squads have been killing Sunni en masse.

Thus, at first glance, the bombing of the Golden Mosque last week as
Sunni retaliation makes sense.

However, what doesn't make sense is the immediate showing of solidarity
between Shia and Sunni clerics following the bombing.

Let us now reinsert the covert operations factor into this equation.

Along with the showing of religious solidarity, there is widespread
belief by Shiite religious clerics both in and outside Iraq, as well as
belief in the Arab media, that US covert operations were behind the bombing:

* Shiite Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr blamed the United States occupation for
the current violence. He recently stated, "My message to the Iraqi
people is to stand united and bonded, and not to fall into the Western
trap. The West is trying to divide the Iraqi people. As God is my
witness, I hereby demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of
the occupation forces from Iraq."

* In another interview, Sadr stated, "We say that the occupiers are
responsible for such crisis [Golden Mosque bombing] ... there is only
one enemy. The occupier."

* Adel Abdul Mehdi, the Iraqi Vice President, held the American
Ambassador [Zalmay Khalilzad] responsible for the bombing of the Golden
Mosque, "especially since occupation forces did not comply with curfew
orders imposed by the Iraqi government."

He added, "Evidence indicates that the occupation may be trying to
undermine and weaken the Iraqi government."
* At a major demonstration in Beirut, prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric
and Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said America and
Israel are to blame for the sectarian divisions in Iraq, claiming that
the violence will offer further justifications for maintaining the
occupation of Iraq.

* According to the Saudi-based Arab News editorial, a civil-war scenario
may serve the interests of the Bush administration: "This may in the end
be what Washington wants, because if Iraq plunges into chaos, it could
be the Bush ticket out of the Iraq debacle, albeit paid for in rivers of
Iraqi blood as well the utter humiliation of the president's
administration and its neo-con agenda."

* Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, urged Iraqi Shia
not to seek revenge against Sunni Muslims, saying there were definite
plots "to force the Shia to attack the mosques and other properties
respected by the Sunni," and blamed the intelligence services of the US
and Israel for being responsible for the bombing of the Golden Mosque.

* Hoseyn Shari'atmadarit wrote in the Keyhan newspaper of Iran on
February 25 of several instances of documented covert operations carried
out by occupation forces in Iraq, including: "In Shahrivar two British
intelligence officers were arrested [in September 2005] at an inspection
post while carrying a considerable amount of explosives, detonators and
other equipment necessary to build a bomb. This event certainly shows
the direct involvement of the English intelligence service in the
bombings in Iraq ... The commander of the English military deployed in
Basra [then] issued an order to attack the police centre and release two
English saboteurs."

In the recent committee meeting, Negroponte told US senators he was
seeing progress in Iraq. He said, "And if we continue to make that kind
of progress, yes, we can win in Iraq."

Evidently the kind of progress John Negroponte sees in Iraq is not the
kind that benefits the Iraqi people. Because the only progress in Iraq,
apart from building prisons, is for the situation to continue growing
progressively worse by deepening sectarian divides, despite the best
efforts of religious leaders to create peace and unity.

Would civil war in Iraq be a "serious setback" for John Negroponte?
Because the sectarian violence happening in Iraq right now is already a
"serious setback" for the Iraqi people.

Thus, does Negroponte really care if there is civil war? Does he really
concern himself with the wellbeing of the Iraqi people? Or is his main
concern creating the catastrophe which keeps them divided?

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website.

Posted by Hannah at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

For Real??????

Did Christopher Shays get this response to his email newsletter or is it just a dirty trick?

"Dear Congressman Shays,
I have always voted for YOU, and I remain a registered Republican. However, I am totally in disagreement with the actions and policies of our President who I believe in my sixty years of casting my vote is the worst President we have ever had. You will of course know my reasons: a war based on a predetermined mind set; a national agenda set on what's good politics as opposed to good for our country; a failure to truly face up to the big issues that confront us: the environment, social security and health care,appointments of unqualified party loyalists to positions of importance; a defense department that is a disaster, a national security plan that is a disgrace (if New Orleans had been blown up by a bomb in a container ship instead of a natural disaster, could we as a nation have accepted the inadequate response by our government.? When there was a moderate group of Republicans (Rep. Amory Houghton: Senator John way of example), I felt there was reason to support the party. I'd like to support you BUT there must be tremendous pressures on you to toe the party line. I hate to say this, but because of our President's philosophy and failures, I will vote for any Democrat I can so that once again our nation will have a working set of checks and balances. I send this with admiration for much of what you have done and stood for but with great sadness that The Republican Party I've supported for many years is no longer a party I feel able to endorse. (Name Deleted) ,a resident of Southport CT and sometime modest contributor to you rcampaigns."

Posted by Hannah at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Chivalry Lives

A letter published in the Portsmouth Herald on February 24, 2006.

Time to stop personal attacks

Feb. 24 - To the Editor:

I resolved to never again waste my time by bandying letters with frequent correspondent Mr. Benjamin Brighton. However, I must come to the defense of my longtime friend, Mrs. Monica Smith, who was the latest target of Mr. Brighton?s ad hominem assaults.

As your readers may recall, Monica Smith wrote a letter in support of the noisy Market Square demonstration during the Bush State of the Union speech. (She did not participate in that demonstration, which makes much of Mr. Brighton?s letter pointless, but I shall not dwell on that point here.) Mr. Brighton accused her of harboring "hatred" toward our country and showing "ignorance" about it, and he ended up describing her as an "aging hippie."

Let me respond to the last insult first. I suppose one might label Monica Smith as "aging," since she is the grandmother of four boys, although I would not want to be in earshot when that happens. She most definitely is not a "hippie." In fact, she is a strong-minded individual who believes in the rights of individuals and also believes that we all have an obligation to involve ourselves in political affairs.

Monica Smith?s values spring no doubt from her life story. She came to this country as a child from Germany after World War II. Her mother was actively opposed to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and was forced to hide in Austria throughout the war. In search of freedom, they immigrated to Chile and then to the United States shortly after the war ended.

Monica Smith inherited her mother?s firm resolve to defend democracy and criticize power seekers who threaten democracy, no matter whom they might be. In other words, she loves this country fiercely, which is why she often speaks out in her writings and other activities.

Through the years, Mrs. Smith has acted as a political watchdog in her local communities and has worked with minority groups and abused children. In those activities, she has accumulated an incredible reservoir of knowledge about how our political and civic systems work. So the assertions that she hates this country and is ignorant about it are really quite outrageous.

Mr. Brighton, I appeal to you, please stop writing such hate-filled letters about people whom you do not even know. Instead, write us some positive missives. Tell us about your values, your viewpoints, and resist the urge to express your ideas through attacks on individuals.

James O. Horrigan

Posted by Hannah at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)