Thursday, December 29, 2005


Forgot to post my letter to the editor that appeared in my local paper on December 19. I'll post that, followed by a reply that appeared today, followed by my response to the reply, followed by a point I wanted to make about the letters but that just doesn't work as a letter to the editor.

My First Letter

We were 'lied into' Iraq War

If you want to know the truth about any given situation, just listen to what President Bush has to say about it, because it will be the opposite of the truth.

The latest example came recently when Bush said: "It is true that much of the intelligence (regarding Iraq) turned out to be wrong." Actually, the intelligence he received before the war regarding WMD and ties to al Qaeda was exactly right.

During a visit to Egypt on Feb. 24, 2001, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." And on CNN on July 29 of the same year, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that Saddam's "military forces have not been rebuilt." It is unreasonable to assume that Bush's loyal appointees Powell and Rice would have known these things without Bush himself knowing them.

The pre-war intelligence was right. Bush was wrong.

Not only that, but Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who was the head of Iraq's WMD programs, stated unequivocally that all of Iraq's prohibited weapons were destroyed after the first Gulf War. This particular statement of Kamel's was not known to the general public until late February 2003, but Bush was clearly aware of Kamel's words and had in fact used him as a source in a speech on Oct. 7, 2002.

The pre-war intelligence was right. Bush was wrong.

According to a recent article in the National Journal, Bush was briefed by his intelligence officers on Sept. 21, 2001 (a year and a half before the Iraq invasion), that Iraq had no ties to al Qaeda. In fact, that same story says Saddam felt threatened by al Qaeda.

It's clear from this information that the pre-war intelligence was right and Bush was wrong. We were lied into this illegal, immoral war, and we need to end it now.

The Response That Appeared Today

Bush has plan to fight terrorists

In the Dec. 19 issue of the Hattiesburg American, Mr. Clinton Kirby wrote a letter titled "We were lied into Iraq War." In his letter, Mr. Kirby conveniently overlooks what he wishes to.

First, he overlooked the fact that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had established a training camp in Herat, Iraq, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This terrorist Zarqawi fled to Iraq from Afghanistan in 2001 when it got too hot for him there. No one stayed in Iraq without Saddam's blessing - especially a foreigner. Still, Mr. Kirby sees no connection.

Mr. Kirby uses statements made by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but only uses parts of statements he chooses and conveniently overlooks the fact that President Bush never said that Saddam's troops were a threat to the U.S. Bush said Saddam was a threat and, as he ordered the use of chemical warfare against his own countrymen, it is no wonder Bush considered him a mad man.

Then Mr. Kirby says that Colin Powell said Saddam had no nuclear arsenal and was no threat. Powell said there was no proof that Saddam had any nuclear weapons or a delivery system, but reiterated that there was evidence that he was trying to reconstitute his program.

This was verified after the invasion by Saddam's own scientist.

Why do Democrats hate Bush so? I tell you why. Because President Bush has a plan and they don't. Because President Bush has morals and they don't. Because President Bush has faced the fact that the War on Terror has to be fought - and President Clinton wouldn't fight it.

Democrats have no party, no plan and no hope. So Mr. Kirby and his Doom and Gloom Party keep peddling their lies in hopes that President Bush will fail. He has already failed. But if President Bush and our military fail, then I am afraid this whole country will fail to defeat terrorism.

Bill Perkins

My Response To The Response (not published yet)

Bill Perkins’ response (“Bush has plan to fight terrorists”) to my letter (“We were 'lied into' Iraq War”) contains some inaccuracies.

Perkins says Zarqawi had a training camp in “Herat, Iraq” before the war, apparently to prove that Iraq harbored al Qaeda terrorists. Aside from the fact that Herat is in Afghanistan, Zarqawi’s prewar presence in Iraq does not prove that Saddam harbored him any more than the presence of 9/11 hijackers like Mohammed Atta in the United States proves that Bush harbored them.

Perkins says I quoted Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice out of context (I didn’t--the quotes I cited were from before 9/11) but Perkins doesn’t even bother to use quotes at all, preferring instead to make his case with his own perplexing interpretation of what Bush and others said. For example, Perkins says Bush never said Saddam’s troops were a threat, only that Saddam himself was a threat. This is an absurd distinction–no leader is a threat without an army.

Perkins relies heavily on Powell’s presentation to the U.N. in February 2003 even though Powell himself recently told Barbara Walters that the presentation is a “blot”on his reputation.

Perkins asserts that “Democrats hate Bush." I cannot make such a sweeping generalization about a group made up of millions of people. But being against the war is not so much about hating Bush as it is about not hating the truth, even though the truth is that America has done something terribly wrong--invading a sovereign nation without provocation.

Perkins asserts that unlike Democrats, Bush “has a plan” and “has morals,” but I submit that merely sending Americans to kill Iraqis or to be killed by Iraqis for the foreseeable future does not qualify as a “plan” that is “moral.” Rather it is, as John Murtha of Pennsylvania (a Democrat who does have a plan–get out of Iraq) pointed out, “a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.”

And Finally, A Point I Wanted To Make But Didn't Have The Space

Until there is definitive proof that we were not lied into the Iraq war, perhaps headlines for letters to the editor should not contain quotes around what the writer says. My December 19th letter carried the headline “We were ‘lied into’Iraq war”–my phrase “lied into” was put in quotes by the editorial page editor.

Contrast that with the headline given to Bill Perkins’ December 29th response to my letter: “Bush has plan to fight terrorists.” No quotes in Perkins’ headline, even though Perkins’ letter does not contain the phrase “to fight terrorists.” Perkins does use the phrase “Bush has a plan,” but he doesn’t say what that plan is–the editorial page editor snatched the phrase “to fight terrorists” out of thin air and added it to the headline of Perkins’ letter.

But the editor could have just as easily, and just as factually, made Perkins’ headline read thusly: “Bush has plan to create more terrorists.” Of course, Perkins’ letter did not contain the phrase “to create more terrorists,” but Bush’s “plan” of wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and sending our soldiers to kill Iraqis or be killed by them is arguably doing just that–creating more terrorists.

There is just as much proof that Bush lied us into war as there is proof that Bush’s plan is to fight terrorists. So the use of quotes around “lied into” in one headline suggests that the writer of that letter (i.e., me) is untrustworthy and making a doubtful statement and the absence of quotes and tacked-on phrase in the other headline suggests that the writer (i.e., Perkins) is trustworthy and making statements that are not in doubt. In other words, the antiwar position is subtly marginalized while the pro-Bush position is normalized.

I’m not necessarily saying that this was done deliberately, but I have a feeling that it was. The liberal media just ain’t what it used to be...

Saturday, December 24, 2005


So I've been downloading podcasts of the Majority Report, my favorite Air America show. I've been burning CDs of them and listen to it whenever I'm in the car, which is usually only for 10-15 minutes at a time. So it takes me several days to listen to a whole show, and I've got a backlog.

I just now listened to the show from November 17, and Sam interviewed Bernie Sanders. And a few of the statistics he brought up are so damning of the current "conservative Republican" mindset and the whole "free market" fiasco and the idea that tax cuts end up helping the less fortunate, and on and on.

To wit, and I'm paraphrasing--listen to the show for the exact quotes:

Astounding Income inequality
1. a 2003 IRS study determined that the income of 99% of the country did not keep up with inflation, while the top 1% did very well and the top 1/10 of that1% did extremely well.

Poverty--tax cuts not the answer
2. Since George Bush took office in 2001, 5 million more Americans have fallen into poverty than before Bush came in--that's a million people a year.

Middle class wages sunk by inflation
3. A two-income household today has less disposable income than a one-income family did in 1973--wages are not keeping up with inflation and people are working longer hours for less $$.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


...while a Republican donor and your money are soon joined.

Hey, did you hear that great news about how everything's gonna cost a lot more this coming year? I guess that's because our magically swell free-market economy is taking perfect care of everyone and wealth and prosperity are just trickling down like sweet raindrops of bliss from the Lord Himself.

Here's a quote from the article:

Unprecedented damage from natural disasters is a new addition to the list of reasons why a lot of critical and recurrent costs in your life will be going up next year.

The hikes in many instances will be multiples higher than the annual inflation rate, which at last reading was 2.1 percent, excluding the volatile categories of food and energy, or 4.3 percent, including them.
It goes on to say that prices will rise in four areas: home insurance, home heating, health insurance, and college costs. To which I say "Yay!" Because you know what's not rising? My income! Yippee! You're doing a heck of a job, Bushie, a gosh-darn heck of a job!

And that last part about college reminds me again of Cheney's tie-breaking vote on the budget bill, which Alterman mentions in his column today. And I'm going to cut and paste the text he quotes because it's from the Wall Street Journal, which is subscription-only and I'm not sure that MSNBC archives Alterman's stuff even though there is a "permalink."

And also through Alterman quoting the Wall Street Journal, we find out that housing affordability is at its lowest ebb in 14 years. To which I emphatically say "Yay!" That's what a good Bush/Republican ream job does for you--it stagnates your wages and makes the price of everything skyrocket.

But we all know we love it, because darn it, Bush is just so charming and likable. He's so folksy and down-to-earth, with his millions of dollars, his private school education, his famous President father--that's just like all the former president's sons that live on my block.

Bush isn't at all like that ponderous Al Gore or that stuffy John Kerry. I mean, Bush--I'm actually tearing up as I type this--well, his favorite philosopher is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Y'all if that don't make all this economic hardship we've faced and are about to face worth it, I don't know what does. I'd rather be homeless, penniless, and freedom-less, than let a damn godless, pro-choice, homo-loving Democrat be the president.

Thank God for George W. Bush is all I can say. He's protecting us and keeping us safe...from our freedoms.

Here's the cut and paste from Alterman/WSJ:

Congress raised interest rates on the popular Stafford loans to a fixed 6.8%, even if commercial rates are lower, and cut subsidies to lenders.
Other affected programs include Medicaid and pension insurance.

Though it isn't the first time the federal government has made cuts in student-aid programs, it is the largest single cut in dollar terms, and it follows years of increased federal support for these programs....

The changes come at a time when families have been struggling with skyrocketing tuition bills. After adjusting for inflation, private-college tuition and fees have increased 37% over the past decade, while public tuition has risen 54%. Today, most college students borrow money to pay for college.

Two-thirds of undergraduates graduate with debt; among graduating seniors, the average debt load is $19,202, according to an analysis of data from the Department of Education's National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. That doesn't include any debt that their parents might incur.

Here is how the bill will affect two of the most popular student-loan

Stafford loans. These are the most ubiquitous type of student
loans, largely because students don't have to demonstrate need in order to
secure one. The interest rate on a Stafford loan is variable and reset annually,
depending on a formula that looks at prevailing market interest rates. Today,
that rate is as low as 4.7%, and students can lock it in thanks to the Federal
Consolidation Loan Program, which allows for a one-time opportunity to
Under the new legislation, the interest rate changes to a fixed
rate of 6.8% starting July 1, 2006, on Stafford loans. While that is
significantly higher than what students are currently paying, it is only
slightly higher than what the average repayment rate has been since 1992-93,
when the current interest-rate calculus was instituted, and is still below the
current cap of 8.25%.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students. Under this
program, money is lent directly to parents rather than students. As with
Stafford loans, the variable rate is reset every year, though it is capped at

Housing Affordability
At the end of the first five years of the Bush administration, Housing affordability, one of the two key building blocks of the American Dream, has hit a 14-year low, according to the National Association of Realtors' Affordability Index, a widely followed measure of the average household's ability to buy a home at current interest rates. In some areas, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Miami, housing affordability has dropped to levels not seen sincethe early to mid-1980s, according to mortgage giant Fannie Mae....

Housing affordability fell nearly 9% in the third-quarter from the same period a year earlier, according to an analysis prepared for The Wall Street Journal by Moody's, a unit of Moody's Corp., which adjusted the NAR Affordability Index for seasonal variations. Affordability dropped by more than 20% in nearly two-dozen markets, including Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Spokane, Wash., and Orlando and Lakeland, Fla., according to the study. "You have to go back 25 years to find a decline that is as significant on a percentage basis," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's


When I read articles like this one in Slate titled "Clinton's Guantanamo: How the Democratic president set the stage for a land without law," it makes me want to tear my hair out.

This article, like the out-of-context Drudge post a few days ago, all basically try to use Clinton's behavior to justify Bush's actions. Or as a smug reminder that as bad as Bush and the Republicans are, Clinton and Democrats were/are no angels either.

But this kind of stuff is a classic red herring. Why? Because Clinton is no longer President. And how does the less-than-angelic status of the Democratic party figure into this equation? No one is suggesting that Democrats are morally superior to Republicans. How does what Clinton did have anything to do with what Bush is doing? Clinton is a private citizen now, and has no more power to authorize secret wiretaps or anything even remotely similar than the man in the friggin' moon.

Bush, on the other hand, is the most dangerous man in the world.

I will say that this Slate story is useful in one regard, though. It demonstrates how the actions of one president set precedents for ones that follow. If nothing else, that's why Bush needs to be impeached, removed and thrown in jail, so that future presidents get the message that these kinds of shenanigans ain't gonna fly.

Not only that, the Slate article is disingenuous. The link from the homepage and the title of the story itself lead one to believe that that ol' bastard Clinton had the bright idea to start a detention camp in Cuba. Then come to find out, the article points out that George H.W. Bush was actually the one that started the first Guantanamo detention camp!

See what I'm saying? See how even a left-leaning rag like Slate still plays the game in Bush's favor? If they were being even-handed, the homepage link and the headline might instead read "Like father, like son--BushI started the first detention camp at Guantanamo." Or, "Bush I and Clinton also maintained detention facilities at Guantanamo."

But no, the headline on the story says Clinton (and only Clinton, in the minds of those who might not take the time or trouble to read the actual story) "set the stage for a land without law." The hyperbole in that short phrase is quite unnecessary and inappropriate.

But whatever. Again, Clinton ain't the president no more, y'all. He's not the problem now, Bush is. So why keep going back to Clinton?

P.S. Besides Clinton not being president anymore, these rehashings of what Clinton did also make for faulty comparisons with Bush because Clinton did not invade and occupy countries that didn't attack us, he created a budget surplus rather than creating record deficits, and so on.

That is the context that Bush's actions need to be seen in--the context of all the other crap he's screwed up. Bush and Clinton are apples and oranges. I mean, are we going to be subjected to arguments implying that because Harry Truman, a Democrat, nuked another country that Bush
ought to do the same? That Truman "set the stage for nuking our enemies?" Because again, the circumstances are entirely different--such illogic isn't even really an argument. And publications with the reach of Slate don't need to be wasting space on such fallcious drivel.

P.P.S. I should also point out that the content of the article seems accurate, and it's interesting and nonsnarky. But the point I'm trying to make is that Slate is trying to sell the article as something it's not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


A post at World Net Daily (yeah, I know) entitled "The Anti-American President" is really good. I can't believe this is from a "conservative" writer on a "conservative" site. He really does an excellent job of explaining the "conservative" Cult of Bush, he doesn't mince words, and he's saying all this on one of their sites! Some quotes:

"Sept. 11 changed everything" has been the mantra of the strong government conservative, the pragmatic dialectoids who are flexible enough to justify any expansion of central government power in the name of the very conservatism that opposes it. Since "we are at war," Republican media whores have repeatedly claimed that because of an attack that killed the same number of people who die on American roads every 26 days, the following actions are therefore justified:

1. An undeclared war of indefinite end against an undefined enemy.

2. Invading two sovereign nations without a congressional declaration of war.

3. The anti-American Patriot Acts I and II.

4. The suspension of habeus corpus.

5. Torture.

Can't argue with a word of that.

Here's a little more along those same lines:

These acts have all been justified under the guise of imminent national peril, despite the fact that the peril is so non-perilous that it has not been deemed necessary to expel foreign nationals, let alone enforce the wide-open national borders or existing immigration laws. If federal agents were to begin shooting innocent and unarmed civilians on the street, would that too be justified?

And just one more--this article is really very good and quotable. Check it for yourself:

America was founded on the principle that it is right to sacrifice blood for liberty. It is telling that the Bush defenders make precisely the opposite argument, that it is right to sacrifice liberty in order to avoid the shedding of American blood. In this they are, like the Dear Leader, avowedly anti-American.
Damn, that's good!
Contributions to the Dictionary

Just for kicks...

Contributions to Dictionary of Republicanisms:

reform: v., to change a policy that assists the lower and middle classes into one that primarily benefits the upper class

regulation: n., an immoral, insulting suggestion that should be ignored by everyone but wimps and losers (i.e, liberals)

law: n., whatever George W. Bush thinks is legal.

I mean, I know there's about to be holiday (fuck you O'-Lie-lly) break, but hot damn, we got us some impeachin' to do!

The cracks in the Republican party are getting deeper and longer. They can't even get their talking points straight anymore. Drudge was offering the false, out-of-context assertion that even Clinton and Carter had done what Bush has done. And around that same time, Bill Kristol was saying that he wished Clinton had done what Bush did, because it could have stopped 9/11.

If Drudge and Kristol can't get on the same page, shit is fucked which is it guys, is Bush just following Clinton's lead or is Bush the first guy to violate the FISA law?

Well, you can't believe a word either of those guys say, but you can believe the guys over at the Center for American Progress, who handily debunked Drudge's context-less quote. If you haven't yet, sign up for their daily email. It'll be very useful at the dinner table over the holidays.

Whatever can we do to help the poor?

You hear this question woefully asked from time to time by well-meaning types. What can we do to help the poor, they ask, with the implication being that "the poor" won't help themselves and just refuse to pull themselves up by their bootstraps because they like that free milk from that government tit. And that's my money, these same well-meanies would say--they're taking my money to sit on their ass while I work. [well-meanie: n, one who disguises apathy or contempt in high-minded, sympathetic yet ultimately empty language or gestures]

So the well-meanie's conclusion is usually said with a downcast sigh--there's just not much we can do for them, alas...

But Dick Cheney knows what to do for them--make their health care cost more and put education even further out of their reach, among other things. And then Frist comes out and basically implies that fucking over the poor shows good fiscal discipline and more than makes up for all the lives and money and energy and goodwill wasted on the Iraq debacle...Geez Louise, these guys have no souls...

President Cheney

That's the only problem with impeaching Bush, you know. "President Cheney"--yikes! Because he'd assume dictatorial powers with no pretense the second the last words of the oath of office came out of his mouth (he's just that evil). And then we'd either have to have another impeachment immediately or a bloody revolution.

Can't we impeach the idiot and the vampire (I mean, Bush and Dick) simultaneously or something?

Oh yeah, and let's end this war, give Jose Padilla the courtesy of a trial, and have a Merry X-mas (eat me, John Gibson).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Doesn't that sick motherfucker have his own magazine in which to foist his propaganda on America? Why does he have to write to the Washington Post to get his sycophantic ideas out there? Oh right, because the Weekly Standard is a money-losing proposition with a low circulation even for a political opinion magazine...

And why would the Washington Post publish such claptrap? I mean, Kristol and his co-writer make assertions that they wish were true (for Bush and no other future president) such as:

It is not easy because the Founders intended the executive to have -- believed the executive needed to have -- some powers in the national security area that were extralegal but constitutional.

Say what? They just make this extraordinary statement as though it is common knowledge, as if it's an idea as unremarkable as the air we breathe. They don't quote any experts, and they don't cite any part of the Constitution that might shed some light on their point. They don't quote anything from any Founder's writings or statements.

And they don't do any of that because they can't. Because there is no part of the Constitution that comes anywhere near to saying that. In fact, it says the opposite, that power not expressly granted to the federal government should rest with the states or with the people (10th Amendment).

Then there's this gem:

Following that logic, the Supreme Court has never ruled that the president does not ultimately have the authority to collect foreign intelligence -- here and abroad -- as he sees fit. Even as federal courts have sought to balance Fourth Amendment rights with security imperatives, they have upheld a president's "inherent authority" under the Constitution to acquire necessary intelligence for national security purposes.
Again, not even a cursory citation of any of the Supreme Court or federal rulings to which they might be referring--again, probably because they don't exist or because they are gravely and intentionally misconstruing such rulings. If you can "follow" their faulty "logic" (already built on a house of cards in a windstorm from their previous assertion highlighted here), you could also easily assert that the Supreme Court has never ruled that the president DOES ultimately have the authority to collect foreign intelligence "as he sees fit" and blah, blah, blah...

In fact, we can easily assume such Supreme and federal court rulings don't exist because the FISA law is still intact, and it requires a warrant (either before or after surveillance is conducted). If the Supreme Court had ruled as Kristol means to suggest, FISA would have been struck down.

And then finally, an oppositism in closing:

This is not an argument for an unfettered executive prerogative. Under our system of separated powers, Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly, and to hold him responsible if he hasn't. But to engage in demagogic rhetoric about "imperial" presidents and "monarchic" pretensions, with no evidence that the president has abused his discretion, is foolish and irresponsible.
Since it's Bill Kristol, the Lord of the Neocons, saying that he's not arguing for "unfettered executive prerogative" that means that's exactly what he's arguing for--remember, most Republicans and all neocons are oppositists. And as for evidence that Bush abused his discretion--he's admitted multiple times on national television that he ordered multiple instances of warrantless wiretapping. That's evidence enough for me...

Oh and two more things: 1)If you read the Kristol piece, he of course brings up the "times of war" canard to justify everything he's saying, and 2) Marty Kaplan wrote a much more insightful and consequential piece about this at the Huffington Post.

Do not let Bush and his minions get away with using the argument that a president can do absolutely anything he wants “in time of war” even if he breaks laws and violates the Constitution. If that argument is true, then what incentive will there ever be for a president to lead us into a time of peace?

Think about it–a president might say to himself “Well, let’s see, during war I can impugn my critics, justify massive government contracts to my defense industry campaign donors, detain American citizens indefinitely without trial or even charge, run up huge deficits while cutting spending on social programs, and talk in overly idealistic and simplistic terms about ‘freedom,’ all while wearing military garb for the cameras” and then realize in peacetime that most, if not all of that behavior would not be tolerated and would be vigorously challenged.

Is that what we want? Is that the America that is described in the Constitution? Is that the America we want to bestow upon our children?

Of course it isn’t, but here’s the problem. Bush and his supporters would never describe his actions in the manner above, and that’s because he’s trying to put a positive spin on his negative policies. Bush might put it like this: “During war we should not heed critics of our foreign policy who would only give aid and comfort to the enemy through their talk of ‘cut and run.’ I cannot and will not put a price tag on this war on terror–this clash of civilizations which we must win at any cost. As part of my oath to protect America, it is my duty to see to it that terrorists and potential terrorists are captured and imprisoned, whether they are found on the streets of Baghdad or the streets of Boston. Our economy has turned a corner and I would remind those who have defeatist attitudes about our national debt that we are at war, bringing the joy of freedom to a region that has known only the sorrow of tyranny.”

And so forth. And yet, the conventional wisdom is that Americans are not impressed with flowery language and lofty ideals.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Bush admitted his he needs to do some time...the penalty for breaking FISA (sponsored by Ted Kennedy in 78--gotta love that) is 5 years and he admitted, on national television, to 30 counts of it...150 years!!!

And hopefully no libs will counsel against impeachment because "a second impeachment would tear the country apart" or some such rubbish...the country's already torn apart and if we back down from this, it'll prove once and for all that we don't have the stomach to do what it takes to win...

Bush aspires to dictatorship--no, wait, that's defeatist talk. Bush has assumed dictatorial powers, and he and future presidents need to be taught a swift and terrible lesson. Please! Now!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


So now Bush is breaking not merely international law (i.e., pre-emptive, non-self-defense war in Iraq, secret prisons, torture, etc.) but now he's breaking our laws. And defiantly admitting to it today in his live Saturday radio address. And promises to keep doing it?

Holy shit, is our democracy ever going down the tubes...

I saw Feingold on CNN right after the speech and he was stellar, putting this latest crime into context with all of the other extralegal stuff Bush has done--again, pre-emptive war, torture at Abu Ghraib, secret prisons, holding people without charge or trial at Guantanamo, holding American citizens without charge or trial, ordering secret wiretaps on American citizens...

This guy Bush steals two elections and then suddenly he thinks he's a dictator...we gotta show him it ain't like that, right?

And then I switched over to MSNBC and saw Julian what's-his-name, a "Democratic strategist" falling all over himself to agree with Pat Buchanan about how we have to "go after terrorists" and that he's all for curtailing civil liberties because of terrorism...

And I'm like, what the fuck? Even the opposition guys are for curtailing civil liberties (Feingold excluded)? No wonder Bush can get away with this kind of crime! The Democrats are in cahoots with him!

Let me straighten this out for you--TERRORISM STOPS WHEN WE STOP ANTAGONIZING OTHER PEOPLE--END OF STORY. The civil liberties that we apparently used to have are the only thing that separates us from--Afghanistan, or North Korea. Other than the high infant mortality rate and the gap between rich and poor and that kind of thing.

Curbing our civil liberties does not end terrorism. Putting an end to our strong-arm tactics will end terrorism.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Good. The Senate rejected the Patriot Act. Maybe because this all-but-unprecedented spying and prying on American citizens just now came to light? Hmmm...


Bill Frist, currently under investigation for insider trading, had this to say about the law:

"We have more to fear from terrorism than we do from this Patriot
," Frist warned.
Remember, the opposite of what almost every Republican says is true. In fact, this happens so often that there needs to be a shorthand term for it--I'll go with "oppositism." I also think it could be called "opposite honesty" since that term describes itself. I'll have to remember to start using those (oppositism could be said to be a conjoining of the terms "opposite" and "terrorism"--because the rightwing is terrorizing America by proclaiming that a given fact or circumstance is the exact opposite of what it actually is)

So Frist has confirmed for us that the Patriot Act is more harmful than terrorism. And he's right, because terrorism is very infrequent, whereas we'd have to live under the Patriot Act every single second of every single day of our less-free lives.

However, another Republican quoted Benjamin Franklin when he said

"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit in a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu R-N.N.

That is not an oppositism, but only because it's a quote.

So Bush is merely continuing the longtime conservative gambit of making sure that facts are treated as opinions. Because they know that fair-minded people will then feel compelled to “look at both sides.” That’s what’s happening in the evolution vs. “intelligent design” debate. And the “look at both sides” argument is even being used by intelligent design proponents as a reason to “study” intelligent design. Their argument is “well, no one really knows for sure whether evolution or intelligent design is a fact, so it behooves us to teach and study both theories.”

They’ve done it with global warming. Objective science has existed for a while now that makes a clear case that global warming is in fact taking place. So the conservatives have some of their think tanks do a “study” that arrives at the opposite conclusion and use their control of the mainstream media to inject that conclusion into the public debate. And then fair-minded people feel compelled to “look at both sides.”

This obfuscation has gotten to the point where people that I know personally have said that they don’t even read anything about politics anymore because they know that both sides are defended by people with hidden agendas and inappropriate biases. And that’s what the conservatives want, because then they are able to take advantage of this confusion and appeal to people through religion, xenophobia, nationalism, and the like–appeals which have no rational basis.

And liberals still insist on trying to deal with issues on a rational basis, as they ideally should. But the conservatives have been far too successful in calling objective facts into question, and so people have become convinced that there is no objective reality and therefore support and vote for candidates who give lip service to their pet religious and nationalistic issues that have been merely a matter of personal preference from time immemorial.

So how do you convince people of the truth of something if they believe that there is no objective reality? That is the critical question facing progressives and other keepers of the democratic flame. We can fact-filled, footnoted, exquisitely sourced blogs, books, and letters all day long but they can still be dismissed easily as being "biased" simply because they only support "one side" even if that side happens to be the truth. And that is because Bush and familiars in the media say things like the pre-Iraq war intel was "wrong," even though it was unquestionably right.

Here are a couple more reasons Bush wants to uphold the meme that the pre-war intelligence was wrong (even though it was exactly right):

1) There are more and more leaks and documents being declassified, revealing what the pre-war intelligence actually said and it’s clear that it contradicts what Bush & Co told us it said before the war. For example, the recent National Journal story which revealed that Bush was told by his intel people on Sept. 21, 2001 that there was no evidence for an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. Colin Powell has also said, post-invasion, that he “never saw” any evidence to credibly link Iraq and al Qaeda. And Sen. Carl Levin had a DIA document declassified last month that showed that even before the war, intelligence officers believed that the testimony of al-Libi (which Bush and Cheney frequently cited as proof of an Iraq-al Qaeda link) should not be trusted.

Given these revelations, it is in Bush’s best interests to “catapult the propaganda” that the pre-war intelligence he way privy to was “wrong” even though the opposite is true. He’s trying to use his supposed charm to convince people that no one should even listen to what “the intelligence” has to say because he’s our noble, righteous, and thoroughly decisive leader. We should just trust him because he tells us to.

Given the power of the conservative media, he will be able to make people forget all of the above facts, just like he was able to make people forget what a horrible job he had done in his first term during the 2004 election.

2) Bush and the neocons will face much less resistance from the public and from the press when they invade or Iran or Syria next year (or ask for authorization to do so right before the midterm elections) if they are able to make the case that the intelligence is wrong and that we should just trust them. Liberals, Democrats, progressives, and anyone else opposed to the war should vigorously resist this demonization of our intelligence capabilities. Because if the public is convinced that our intelligence officers cannot be trusted, they will feel that they have no choice but to trust Bush. And the negativity about the intelligence services will linger after the invasion of the next country after what Bush was actually told starts to trickle out afterward. It’s a can’t-lose strategy for Bush and the neocons and will pay dividends to the neocons for years after Bush is long gone from office.

However, it’s the only strategy the neocons have–the ol’ smear and fear. And here they are using it to try to discredit even their own administration, or at least the parts of it that they feel could leave them vulnerable. They are trying to create a situation in which Bush, as the elected (or, more accurately, “selected”) leader, is the only person that can be trusted just because he was elected–in other words, they want to foist this proposition on the country: “You elected me so I must be right.” And everything to the contrary be damned.

So I'm lying in bed this morning thinking about the letter to the editor I wrote yesterday, pointing out that even though Bush said that the pre-war intelligence "turned out to be wrong," you shouldn't believe him. Then I cited the Powell/Rice quotes, talked about the recent National Journal article, talked about Hussein Kamel and how Bush was obviously aware of him because he used Kamel as a source in a speech. The intelligence Bush received before the war was right, and he was wrong.

But his sudden "admission" of being "wrong" bothered me. I knew there had to be an ulterior motive but I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. But it hit me like a bolt of lightning this morning in bed.

Hope this makes sense...

Bush and the Republicans will now try to turn a supposed humble admission that the Iraq intelligence was wrong but we were right to go into Iraq into a cudgel like they did with the term "liberal media" or "liberal media bias." In other words, they're trying to create the meme that we can't trust the facts (i.e., the "intelligence") in a given situation, but we can always trust them. That's why Bush felt like he could say some intelligence turned out to be wrong, because he immediately followed that statement with one about how he was right to go into Iraq anyway.

Noise Machine

And that's what David Brock and others have been pointing out that the Republicans have been doing for decades now--turning objective facts into just another political opinion. That's what they did with their most successful canard, the myth of the "liberal media." Anytime some solid, factual reporting conflicts with what the conservatives are trying to prove, they'll say in essence "who are you gonna believe, me and your gut or the liberal media."

And that shit has worked like a charm...

And so that's what Bush has been doing all along, like with Social Security. Bush said it would be bankrupt in a number of years and that it needed to be fixed, meanwhile all the numbers coming from the SS trustees and the CBO basically proved that what Bush was saying was wildly off the mark. But Bush said we should trust him, not the facts.

So the writer of the famous Downing Street minutes really captured something when he pointed out that "the facts and intelligence were being fixed around the policy" of going to war with Iraq. That is undoubtedly true, and that becomes clearer with each passing week. But I had never thought about that description applying to everything Bush tries to do. But it is very apt. Because the facts and intelligence are nearly always against Bush and corporatists. So they try to discredit the facts by simply saying "the intelligence was wrong, but I was right."

That is dangerous notion that far too many people buy into...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Friends, here is a touching letter I saw recently from an American child regarding his Christmas list...

Dear Baby Jesus:
I have a two-part Christmas wish. What I'd like for Christmas is for Iraq to be a strong, vibrant democracy. Then, once that's happened, I would like for Iraq to invade the United States to force democracy on it--to change the face of the region. After all, we do have WMD (no doubt at all) and we are a threat to the rest of the world, and our president wasn't elected (he was court-appointed once and had people cheating for him the second time).
We are also a haven for terrorism and many of our citizens are adherents of a violent, hostile, false sect of an otherwise peaceful, ennobling religion. They are Christo-fascists and hate freedom, just like we were told the Iraqis did before our glorious invasion that destroyed our democracy.
Isn't that just the sweetest thing ever, good friends? Ah, the innocence of a child...


OK, so I wrote that and tried to pass it off as something else...whatever. Alterman did me a favor today and quoted from a Free Press article by those "enemies of the state" Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman. It's worth quoting, as Alterman did, because it is so motherfucking frightening:

A law that will make democracy all but moot in Ohio is about to pass the state legislature and to be signed by its Republican governor. Despite massive corruption scandals besieging the Ohio GOP, any hope that the Democratic party could win this most crucial swing state in future presidential elections, or carry its pivotal U.S. Senate seat in 2006, are about to end.

House Bill 3 has already passed the Ohio House of Representatives and is about to be approved by the Republican-dominated Senate, probably before the holiday recess. Republicans dominate the Ohio legislature thanks to a heavily gerrymandered crazy quilt of rigged districts, and to a moribund Ohio Democratic party. The GOP-drafted HB3 is designed to all but obliterate any possible future Democratic revival. Opposition from the Ohio Democratic Party, where it exists at all, is diffuse and ineffectual.

HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.

The GOP is ramming similar bills through state legislatures around the U.S., starting with Georgia and Indiana. The ID requirements in particular have provoked widespread opposition from newspapers such as the New York Times. The Times, among others, argues that the ID requirements and the costs associated with them, constitute an unconstitutional discriminatory poll tax.

But despite significant court challenges, the Republicans are forcing changes in long-standing election laws that have allowed citizens to vote based on their signature alone. Across the U.S., GOP Jim Crow laws will eliminate millions of Democratic voters from the registration rolls. In swing states like Ohio, such ballots are almost certain to be crucial.
Oh but it can't happen here, the conservatives will shout! This is America! The land of the rich and the home of the wage slave...I mean, well you know what I mean!
Conservatives would say of this article, "this is the liberal media! And you can't believe a damn word they say! Now close your eyes, bow your heads--I don't want any eyes looking around the room... "

And then you and I, being our dutiful, cooperative selves, will bow our heads and close our eyes and when the mumbo-jumbo prayer is up, democracy will be gone.

Democracy In Iraq

I only wish that Alterman had gone on to point out that this story is coming out the day before we are ostensibly bringing "Democracy" to Iraq. I mean, what greater irony? Democracy's packing her bags, I guess. She's had enough abuse here and she's just gonna up and move to Baghdad. Is there anything we can do to change her mind?

I mean, this is fucking IN-FUCKING-SANE. It's unbelievable.

So on Hardball tonight, whenever they talked about Iraq, they titles on the screen said "Democracy In Iraq." And that phrase was onscreen a lot--Democracy in Iraq, democracy in Iraq, democracy in Iraq...and it really just seems like a sick joke.

I mean, we've sacrificed the lives of over 2,000 soldiers and killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians in order to force democracy on them, and so today, as if they're playing straight man to Bush's terrible lounge comedian, the House renews the Patriot Act. Oh, and then it turns out that the military has been fucking spying on U.S. citizens.

How do you like your democracy now? Because it's being exported to Iraq. It's being outsourced, like all the jobs, but for a different reason. Since democracy here was just elemental, it was in the water, it was in our hearts, it was intangible and therefore no one, no corporation could profit from it. So they decided to send it to Iraq, where all the familiar faces get a big slice of the pie--Halliburton, General Electric, etc.

"Democracy" is big business in Iraq, but you can't make a dime off it here, not the way you used to, dude. It's a bummer and all, but hey, you don't stay in business if you don't turn a profit, right? You gotta go where the money is!


I gotta go to sleep, but I just had to point this out right quick--Bush is a prick and he takes us for fools. Today he says

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq," Bush told a foreign policy forum on the eve of elections to establish Iraq's first permanent, democratically elected government.

"And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that."

He states as "truth" that "much of the intelligence" was wrong, but we didn't know that until after the fact, with the "fact" being the beginning of the war. Right? Isn't that more or less what he's saying--that our intelligence lead us to certain assumptions and conclusions that turned out to be somewhat inaccurate after we actually invaded Iraq.

But that is a load of HORSESHIT. HE'S DOING IT AGAIN. He's saying the opposite of what he knows is true. He always does it. Every word out of that motherfucker's mouth is untrustworthy.

He wants us to think that the intelligence he's referring to is the intelligence regarding basically two things: 1) Iraq had WMD, 2) Iraq and al Qaeda were best friends.

But here's the kicker--Rice and Powell both said, prior to 9/11, that Saddam didn't have the ability to threaten his neighbors and that he was contained. Here are the most relevant parts of their quotes:

POWELL: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

RICE: " We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

So if Bush's underlings Powell and Rice had been briefed on these things, don't you imagine the President was also?

So therefore, we had good intelligence. We knew Saddam didn't have WMD and Powell explicitly said so.

And regarding links to al Qaeda, we already know from the National Journal that Bush was briefed on Sept. 21, 2001 by his intelligence people that Iraq and al Qaeda had no ties. There's also an article about the subject in the latest issue of Newsweek that says, that as time goes on, that fact just becomes ever clearer.
So it was the intelligence that was right and it was Bush that was wrong. See how simple?

Monday, December 12, 2005


The evidence for impeachment keeps pouring in. First there was the Downing Street minutes. Then there was the indictment of Scooter Libby in the ongoing Plame investigation.

Then, just the other day, there was this story about how the intelligence was actually right. On September 21, 2001 Bush was told by his intelligence officers that there was no link between Saddam and al Qaeda. But Bush insisted on making that case anyway. That's what we call a lie, class.

Now today comes a story that more than a year before Bush uttered the infamous "16 words"--"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa"--that the French government had a very different take on the issue. The French said that there was no proof of such a charge.

In fact, had George Bush been honest (which he wasn't) in his 2003 State of the Union speech, he might have said this instead of what he actually said:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently
sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. But the French have told us the exact opposite. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. They also tell us that there is no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
And this is exactly what people mean when they say that Bush lied, or at the very least "manipulated intelligence" and didn't present the whole case--that the Bushies left out the info they were getting that didn't help make their case and was in fact contrary to their claims. The right-wingers and Bushistas will say that the intelligence was "flawed." Well, here we have two recent stories about pre-war intelligence that was presented to George Bush indicating that the intelligence wasn't flawed at all. The intelligence was accurate--much more accurate than the underhanded omissions of caveats,such as the ones contained in these stories, by Bush and others in the administration.

And of course there's another story debunking the Iraq-al Qaeda ties that recently surfaced. The New York Times reports that the "evidence" of such a link came to a large degree from a man who was tortured by us. The man recanted his testimony after the Iraq war began.


So, to recap how we know even more about how Bush lied and that despite what he and his cronies say, the intelligence was good (funny how Bush kept saying that in defense of the war, but he was referring to the bad intelligence):

1. 9/21/01 Bush told by intel officers that Iraq and al Qaeda had no ties.
2. In late 2001, the French government told Bush that the Niger/uranium story could not be proven.
3. Iraq/al Qaeda connection info came from a tortured Egyptian who recanted after the war started and said he made up the story to end his torture.

And this doesn't even include all the other ways we know, yes know, that Bush lied--yes, lied.

Just happened to see a condensed version of Brian Williams' "A Day With The President" on "Countdown." There was one segment that looked like it was shot in the White House portrait studio--Bush looked really good somehow. The light was soft but not gay, and he looked and sounded very reasonable. Not the things he said, but the tone of his voice.

Congratulations to NBC News for winning the bid in the PR campaign to polish the turd that is Bush's presidency.

And as I watched the end of Hardball leading into Countdown, I thought again about why it is that the same pundits, journalists and political hacks are always on such shows. Always spouting the same bullshit.

I mean, both Countdown and Hardball always have Dana Milbank on. Who the fuck is Dana Milbank? I mean, I know he's a reporter for the Washington Post, but what does he know about what is actually going on in a given situation. Aside from the fact that he too, is an intelligent human being, like a lot of people.

But I mean why are those types--not just those types, really, but always the same people--always on these shows talking their talking heads off about whatever happens to be the topic. What I'm getting at is--why doesn't some enterprising news organization talk to real people on a regular basis instead of these insular, highly-paid, politically-motivated types.

And when I say "real people," I don't mean people presented to the press by the Rendon Group or some other gigantic PR firm as a "real" person, I mean, why don't they have actual people who are affected by whatever policy issue is being discussed. And don't have them on as a token "real" person, followed by the government spokesperson to really set the record straight. Let the real people be the authorities.

And not the same stable of "real" people over and over again. Different, actual untrained people. People who aren't media savvy at all. I mean, reality TV is popular, right? What is more real than what I'm talking about?

Monday, December 05, 2005


Saw the Chomsky-Dershowitz debate on C-Span last night. Chomsky kicked Dershowitz's ass, of course, if for no other reason than that the only weapon Dershowitz seemed to have in his arsenal was a dull smear. He kept saying that whatever Chomsky said was only true on "planet Chomsky," and insinuating that Chomsky uses sources out of context, and so forth.

And Chomsky displayed his knack for being "simple-minded," as he has described himself. When Dershowitz held up a map of a proposed Palestinian state which was contiguous except for the West Bank (which he did repeatedly) and said that such a state was really a good deal for Palestinians, Chomsky said that there is a simple test to determine whether that's a good deal or not: impose it on the Israelis and see if they think it's then such a great deal.

Dershowitz claimed that Arafat was the problem in the Camp David talks with President Clinton because Clinton privately told Dershowitz that that was the case. Chomsky easily punctured the veracity of that argument by saying essentially, "are you going to believe the public historical record or something that Dershowitz claims someone told him?"

The Gadflyer has a great take on the debate here, in which he did what Dershowitz kept suggesting, which is to check Chomsky's sources against Chomsky's claims. And lo and behold, Chomsky's claim is borne out.