Monday, March 31, 2003
Time Magazine has a long-thumb sucker on how we ended up in this mess. As usual, they are too kind to the major players, but it gives a pretty good outline.
The “First Law of Holes” is if you find yourself in one is to stop digging. Robin Cook understands; now if the boy idiot from Midland can stop pumping his fist long enough to see the ground disappearing under his feet maybe we can get out of this mess.
Sunday, March 30, 2003
From :Josh Marshal
."President Bush's aides did not forcefully present him with dissenting views from CIA and State and Defense Department officials who warned that U.S.-led forces could face stiff resistance in Iraq, according to three senior administration officials. Instead, Bush embraced predictions of top administration hawks, beginning with Vice President Dick Cheney, who predicted Iraqis would joyously greet coalition troops as liberators and that the entire conflict might be over in a matter of weeks, the officials said."
That's the devastating lede of Warren Strobel's piece on the administration meltdown..."
Unfucking real. From ABC News: "They may be the ones facing danger on the battlefield, but US soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for President George W Bush.
Thousands of marines have been given a pamphlet called "A Christian's Duty," a mini prayer book which includes a tear-out section to be mailed to the White House pledging the soldier who sends it in has been praying for Bush..."
Saturday, March 29, 2003
When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History
March 20, 2003
By Thom Hartmann
The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was
barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well
that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, 1933. They
commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace
that mobilized citizens all across the world.
It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic
crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign
ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but
the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The
intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would
eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue
elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist; the most
recent research implies they did not.)
But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels,
in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to
be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the
majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.
He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw
things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to
understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and
internationalist world. His coarse use of language - reflecting his
political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and
often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats,
foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and
media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an
occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved
skulls and human bones.
Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he
didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response.
When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious
building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck
and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.
"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he
proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by
national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion,
"is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called
it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological
sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle
East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.
Two weeks later, the first detention center for terrorists was built in
Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous
terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was
everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window
Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular
leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating
terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that
suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas
corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected
terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without
access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without
warrants if the cases involved terrorism.
To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State"
passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil
libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the
national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then,
the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police
agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they
hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.
Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police
agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and
holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year
only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely
ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus
lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who
protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found
themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and
jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the
leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily
lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures,
and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator.)
Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion
of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common
usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so,
instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it
as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a
1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie
"Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride,
and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was
"the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands.
We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our
nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated
in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern
Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the
French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international
body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own
nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country
from the League Of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a
separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United
Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.
His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people
that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted
in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the
Christian faith across his nation, what he called a "New Christianity."
Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared
"Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us - and most of them fervently believed
it was true.
Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation's leader determined
that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation
were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated
administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the
nation, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry
and thus probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various
troublesome "intellectuals" and "liberals." He proposed a single new
national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating
the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and
investigative agencies under a single leader.
He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this
new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a
role in the government equal to the other major departments.
His assistant who dealt with the press noted that, since the terrorist
attack, "Radio and press are at out disposal." Those voices questioning
the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his
checkered past, had by now faded from the public's recollection as his
central security office began advertising a program encouraging people
to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors. This program was so
successful that the names of some of the people "denounced" were soon
being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included
opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak out - a favorite
target of his regime and the media he now controlled through
intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.
To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't
enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing
former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high
government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate
coffers to fight the war against the Middle Eastern ancestry terrorists
lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas. He
encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets
and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those
previously owned by suspicious people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He
built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the
lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale
detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow.
But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices
of dissent again arose within and without the government. Students had
started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose
Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his
bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people
away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government,
questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the
oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held
in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.
With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began
a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited
war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious
Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the
terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was
tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they
were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity. He called a
press conference and publicly delivered an ultimatum to the leader of
the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the
right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe
- at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine
only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire, like
Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.
It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying
with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of
the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military
action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous
British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike
doctrine would bring "peace for our time." Thus Hitler annexed Austria
in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so
often do in times of war. The Austrian government was unseated and
replaced by a new leadership friendly to Germany, and German
corporations began to take over Austrian resources.
In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, Hitler said,
"Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with
brutal methods. I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying. I
have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my
people, but when I crossed the former frontier [into Austria] there met
me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants
have we come, but as liberators."
To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of
his politically savvy advisors, he and his handmaidens in the press
began a campaign to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the
nation itself. National unity was essential, they said, to ensure that
the terrorists or their sponsors didn't think they'd succeeded in
splitting the nation or weakening its will. In times of war, they said,
there could be only "one people, one nation, and one
commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his
advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that
critics of his policies were attacking the nation itself. Those
questioning him were labeled "anti-German" or "not good Germans," and
it was suggested they were aiding the enemies of the state by failing
in the patriotic necessity of supporting the nation's valiant men in
uniform. It was one of his most effective ways to stifle dissent and
pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came) against the
"intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies.
Nonetheless, once the "small war" annexation of Austria was
successfully and quickly completed, and peace returned, voices of
opposition were again raised in the Homeland. The almost-daily release
of news bulletins about the dangers of terrorist communist cells wasn't
enough to rouse the populace and totally suppress dissent. A full-out
war was necessary to divert public attention from the growing rumbles
within the country about disappearing dissidents; violence against
liberals, Jews, and union leaders; and the epidemic of crony capitalism
that was producing empires of wealth in the corporate sector but
threatening the middle class's way of life.
A year later, to the week, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia; the nation
was now fully at war, and all internal dissent was suppressed in the
name of national security. It was the end of Germany's first experiment
As we conclude this review of history, there are a few milestones worth
February 27, 2003, was the 70th anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus
van der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament
(Reichstag) building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to
legitimacy and reshaped the German constitution. By the time of his
successful and brief action to seize Austria, in which almost no German
blood was shed, Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the
history of his nation. Hailed around the world, he was later Time
magazine's "Man Of The Year."
Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland,
known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by
its most famous agency's initials: the SS.
We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly
violent warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while
generating devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly
desirable "shock and awe" among the nation's leadership according to
the authors of the 1996 book "Shock And Awe" published by the National
Defense University Press.
Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of
government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close
alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using
war as a tool to keep power: "fas-cism (fbsh'iz'em) n. A system of
government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right,
typically through the merging of state and business leadership,
together with belligerent nationalism."
Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to
remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the
United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt
chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and
Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and
reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the
commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and
create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding
war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class,
enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations,
increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created
Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through
programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and
To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is
Thom Hartmann is the author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal
Protection" and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight." This article is
copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for reprint in
print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
From the Washington Post and Harold Meyerson : “...Combine the neos and CEOs with a president who seems ego-invested in his own provincialism and -- voilà! -- the United States has alienated a planet that has long looked to us as a force for decency in human affairs. In George Bush's America, however, it's the bombs that show the human face of our nation, while our statecraft, to steal a line from W.B. Yeats, reveals a gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun.”
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
What the fuck is Peggy Noonan smoking?
Friday, March 21, 2003
I grew up during the same time and just down the road from Shrub Bush in the white-collar city of Midland. My home in the rougher blue-collar town of Odessa. I can still remember the ”Get the US out of the UN” signs. Well, it looks like Shrub and Company believe they have at last accomplished that goal.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
From David Corn :
“...Unlike other big-time endeavors sought by the neocons and conservatives, this is a no-holds-barred effort. To use a cliché, a swing for the fences. Conservatives often gripe that their principles are never fully put to the test. Ronald Reagan cut taxes, but deficits occurred because Congress didn't curtail spending. Welfare reform was passed, but it wasn't strict enough. Ballistic missile defense hasn't gone operational yet because the program has not been sufficiently funded and supported. Saddam Hussein was pushed back in 1991, but not pursued. This time out, the cons and neocons should have no complaints. This is what they have desired for years. Bush has his war, and it's step one in their (and his) crusade.
Bush and the rest are placing much at risk for their grand promises. Let them take credit, if success transpires. And let them bear responsibility for whatever might be unleashed.”
Gene Lyons has a very good Bull Shit detector.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
From the LA Weekly .
Monday, March 10, 2003
No one should forget Bush mocking a woman on Texas’ death row pleading for life. Bush has moved on to greater things and is no longer the Governor of Texas so at least as Delma Banks Jr. goes to his death, for a murder he most likely did not commit, he will not have to endure being an object of Bush’s famous moral clarity. Bob Herbert on the national disgrace of the Texas Criminal Justice system.
Richard Perle is just another scumbag, money grubbing, un-ethical Republican and then he has the balls to call Seymour Hersh a terrorist.
While I respect Mr. Reese’s desire to support Americans and not criticize the war they are in once the fighting starts I think he is wrong. The rest of the column is must reading.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the constant outrage, of my government acting like bullies, of seeing the same ignorant thugs running Washington D.C. that I fled in 1961 when I left Odessa, Texas. I had hoped I’d left that meanness of spirit and bigotry behind.
I started this Blog to write about Art, Aviation, Photography, Photoshop and Politics pretty much in that order and as I look over my Blog all I read are posting about the incredible stupidity of the Bush government. I’m sorry it has come to this, I feel like a one trick pony, but the fear and anger are all consuming.
My hope, my light shining for a better future is the knowledge that most systems reach their zenith and then quickly fade away. We can only hope this is the death rattle of the Reactionary Right and the U.S.A. rejects Shrub and Company’s vision of the world.
If this doesn’t convince you that we have a government of dangerous kooks you are living in a fantasy world and need help:
“...He (Bush) and his aides have outlined a quick and successful overthrow of Hussein and rebuilding of a democratic Iraq that spreads peace through the Middle East. Establishing unchallenged world dominance for the United States, it cows the leaders of Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda. In this view, the domestic economy would soar, and help Bush and his party in 2004 to a victory that would realign the country's political allegiances...”
For the complete article.
“... If we are not now at the mercy of the least rational, least humane, least responsible pack of yahoos who ever seized control of the American war machine, then I have learned exactly nothing in 35 years as a professional observer...”
For all of the rant, it’s long but worth the time.
Are there any men and women of principle in Shrub's government? Mr. Powell where is yours or does Europe have a monopoly on balls?
Does anyone else find this AP story disturbing? My understanding of the U.S.A. is changing and the new country is not the home of hope and freedom I have known for most of my life.
Bush has wished for a dictatorship in one of his throwaway “jokes.” I have found people “joke” about things they believe but haven’t the balls to tell you but if you watch what they do their true beliefs and wants will show. Bush gives every indication of wanting a police state from the way he was selected to his control of who is allowed a voice in his presence.
I have disagreed with some of the policies of every President as I have watched them try to balance the conflicting demands on our country, Republican much more than Democrat, but this is the first time in my life I have feared for the future of my country and the world because of the actions of the President.
“Large Groups Barred From Protesting Near White House
Washington (AP) - Large groups of anti-war demonstrators will no longer be allowed anywhere near the White House. U.S. Park Police have been limiting the number of people near the White House since September 11.
Chief Teresa Chambers says groups larger than 25 will not be allowed in Lafayette Park. They will have to apply for a permit and will be monitored by officers using a helicopter and closed-circuit TV cameras. Groups that are granted a permit will be relegated to a section of the Ellipse. Chambers says individuals will still be allowed on the sidewalk in front of the White House. She says if war breaks out and large groups want to get to the White House, officers will ring Lafayette Park top make sure no one gets in.
Park Police will get some work handling anti-war demonstrators tomorrow, then the group "Code Pink" plans a march to the White House. Thousands are expected to participate.”
Saturday, March 08, 2003
From the Daily Mirror:
BUSH: CLAP ME OR NO EU SPEECH
Mar 8 2003
By Paul Gilfeather
GEORGE Bush pulled out of a speech to the European Parliament when MEPs wouldn't guarantee a standing ovation.
Senior White House officials said the President would only go to Strasbourg to talk about Iraq if he had a stage-managed welcome.
A source close to negotiations said last night: "President Bush agreed to a speech but insisted he get a standing ovation like at the State of the Union address.
"His people also insisted there were no protests, or heckling.
"I believe it would be a crucial speech for Mr Bush to make in light of the opposition here to war. But unless he only gets adulation and praise, then it will never happen."
Mr Bush's every appearance in the US is stage-managed, with audiences full of supporters.
It was hoped he would speak after he welcomed Warsaw pact nations to Nato in Prague last November. But his refusal to speak to EU leaders face-to-face is seen as a key factor in the split between the US-UK coalition and Europe.
The source added: "Relations between the EU and the US are worsening fast - this won't help."
An example of why Avedon Carol is one of my favorite Bloggers.
Friday, March 07, 2003
From Brad DeLong “Right-Wing British Financial Newspaper Calls Bush Economic Policy "Lunacy"
Gerard Baker, the Washington correspondent for the Financial Times, calls the Bush Administration's economic policy "lunacy."
Note that Gerard Baker is not a partisan Democrat. Gerard Baker is a normal, smart, conservative, keen-eyed financial reporter who is trying to give the largely well-off European readers of the Financial Times some idea of what is going on in economic policy in Washington...
...Some day, at great cost to the American taxpayer and the economy, someone will have to deal with the consequences of this lunacy. It will make running Iraq's central bank look like a breeze by comparison.”
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
A supply side overview . It could be a useful guide to the players during the Greg Mankiw hearings.
Monday, March 03, 2003
Brad DeLong ...”This picture, as painted by Powell or whichever of Powell's people is Woodward's source, is not at all pretty. It has a wavering president, a wavering secretary of defense, and a madman of a deputy defense secretary (Wolfowitz) who has not only forgotten that we in the United States are supposed to be the good guys but who has next to no conception of who the good guys are, accompanied by a national security advisor who wants a war that can be characterized as "short and victorious" and doesn't seem to much care whether the rapid victories are won against people who were in some way linked to 9/11...”
Richard Reeves has a fine rant.
Molly Ivins “reviews the bidding” on North Korea. The basic story is ideology trumps good policy.
Auckland - New Zealand - Prime Minister Helen Clark said Sunday she believes war in Iraq was likely around March 17... Blowback: The Cost and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson ... Project for the New American Century ... If those three don’t give you night terrors you live in the fantasy world of the New American Century.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
When the history of this administration is written it will be a story of almost total incompetence. Everything they touch gets fucked up. Then after it is in total disarray, the SOP is to blame Clinton. What I can’t believe is how the mainstream press has allowed the process to happen time after time. I expect we will see thumb-sucking stories about how Clinton is the reason Turkey’s Parliament will not allow our troops to use Turkey as a staging base to attack Iraq.
It will be a hard and long struggle, but we will win. The stakes are too high to lose.