July 28, 2006

Don't miss...

...this terrific editorial by Robert Scheer at truthdig, on the "labor pains of a stillborn foreign policy."

...an on-the-money essay by Bob Higgins of Worldwide Sawdust, that sums up exactly how I feel each time George the Younger appears on my television screen.

...a report by Paul Siegel at We Don't Agree, But... on Mr. Bush's abuse of signing statements - and a special task force of the American Bar Association that's urging Congress to do something about it. (Also applauded by the Demon Princess at MoronCowboy.)

...and this thought-provoking piece by Star A. Decise of The Enigmatic Paradox, on the growing difficulty of separating "support for our troops" from condemnation of the disastrous policies that put us in Iraq to begin with.

Read on.

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Reign of error

In today's New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman notes, "The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths." The steady diet of misinformation and outright lies concocted by the Bush Administration continues unabated, aided in large part by a mystifyingly compliant Fourth Estate. Mr. Krugman writes:
Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Bush administration continues to be remarkably successful at rewriting history. For example, Mr. Bush has repeatedly suggested that the United States had to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn't let U.N. inspectors in. His most recent statement to that effect was only a few weeks ago. And he gets away with it. If there have been reports by major news organizations pointing out that that's not at all what happened, I've missed them.

It's all very Orwellian, of course. But when Orwell wrote of "a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past," he was thinking of totalitarian states. Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?
On several occasions in the past, I've written about the alarming reluctance by the American press to expose the lies of this Administration as simply that - and the amazing willingness of the American people as a whole to ignore the truth. About Iraq. About election fraud. About domestic surveillance. About torture. About the economy. About homeland security.

Like that annoying Energizer bunny, the list keeps going and going and going... In an age when even the average citizen has so much information at his or her fingertips, the incessant propagandizing by BushCo should fall on deaf and resistant ears. That it does not is an indictment of the intellectual laziness of the American people - and the inexcusable timidity of the traditional media.

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(NOTE: For those of you who are not yet subscribers to the NYT's "Times Select", Mr. Krugman's article is reprinted in the comments section below. Click "add your opinion" to access the full editorial.)

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"When the only tool you have is a hammer...

...everything starts to look like a nail."

So writes Joseph A. Palermo in this excellent post at HuffPo, lambasting the U.S.' "disingenuous stance of refusing to negotiate a ceasefire because we cannot 'return to the status quo ante'." Excerpts:
The key question for American citizens is this: How many corpses on both sides are we willing to accept for the Bush Administration to obtain its objectives in the Middle East? Blocking an immediate cease-fire and refusing to engage the parties of the current conflict in peace talks is just another neo-con wet dream like pursuing "democracy" in Iraq. As the violence intensifies, Condi should realize, as the rest of the civilized world seems to understand, that this war is different than previous Arab-Israeli conflicts, and it is fraught with danger given the current bloodshed in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories, and the emboldening of Iran in the region. The longer this war goes on with escalations on both sides, the more unstable and out of control the situation becomes...

Right-wing ideologues make poor diplomats. They are blind to the social, cultural, political, and religious nuances of the Middle East, and they are far too dedicated to the use of force. (William Kristol and other nut-bags are openly advocating US military action against Iran.) When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Bush and Condi's "transformational diplomacy," and the glorification of war to solve complex human problems, can only lead to more bloodshed, as it has in Iraq.
As I've written many times at this site, it is horrifying that at the very moment America and the world need leaders of vision, intelligence, and nuance, we instead have only George Bush and his cowboy cronies at the helm. God help us all.

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July 27, 2006

Failure upon failure

As he so often does, the New York Times' Bob Herbert hits the nail on the head with his critique of an Administration that "seems paralyzed, completely unable to shape the big issues facing the U.S. and the world today." Highlights:
If a Democratic president had pursued exactly the same policies, and achieved exactly the same tragic results as George W. Bush, that president would have been the target of a ferocious drive for impeachment by the G.O.P....

One did not get the sense, listening to this assessment [of the violence in Baghdad] from the commander in chief, that things would soon be well in hand. There was, instead, a disturbing sense of deja vu. A sense of the president at a complete loss, not really knowing what to do. I recalled the image of Mr. Bush sitting in a Sarasota, Fla., classroom after being informed of the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead of reacting instantly, commandingly, he just sat there for long wasted moments, with a bewildered look on his face, holding a second-grade story called "The Pet Goat."

And then there was the famous picture of Mr. Bush, on his way back from a monthlong vacation, looking out the window of Air Force One as it flew low over the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. "It's devastating," Mr. Bush was quoted as saying. "It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."

I'll tell you what's devastating. The monumental and mind-numbing toll of Mr. Bush's war in Iraq
Hear, hear!

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(NOTE: For those of you who are not yet subscribers to the NYT's "Times Select", Mr. Herbert's article is reprinted in the comments section below. Click "add your opinion" to access the full editorial.)

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July 25, 2006

An increasingly foreign land

You know, if this is true, then the illusion of an enlightened American society is over. Gone. Vanished forever.

And it's really time to renew my passport, in the event I should need to plot a hasty escape from this increasingly foreign land.

According to a Washington Times article on the findings of a recent Harris poll,
Half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 - up from 36 percent last year...

In addition, 64 percent say Saddam had "strong links" with al Qaeda, up from 62 percent in October 2004.
Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Perhaps, the time truly has come to divide America into two separate nations. One can be populated by individuals respectful of education and proven fact; who celebrate genuine equality regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation; who value a government rooted in Constitutional checks and balances, and the separation of church and state.

The other can turn for its "news" to Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter and Dobson; can legislate homophobia, ban contraception, and burn books about evolution; and can base its federal government on the theory of an infallible theocratic Executive whose word is law - and whose personal interpretation of law is the final word.

Personally, I'm applying for citizenship in the former.

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Two things

At this point in time, there are two things that strike me most about the escalating carnage between Israel and Hezbollah, beyond the obvious idiocy of armed conflict itself.

The first is that in war, any war, no matter how "noble" the official goal or stirring the respective state-sanctioned propaganda may be, it is the common citizen who suffers most. Homes, families, and futures lost in an instant. Hearts and minds indelibly hardened against the "enemy" for a lifetime.

While it's only logical to condemn the random and indiscriminate Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israeli towns, it's simply impossible to look at images of dead and mutilated Lebanese children and feel that the Jewish State is justified in its present course of action either. Even the Voice of America is reporting that, as a result of unabated Israeli airstrikes, "the vast majority of the victims in Lebanon are civilians."

Tragically - and inexcusably - this bloody process seems to be perfectly acceptable to the Bush Administration.

Which brings me to point number two: our Dear Leader's mysterious reluctance, despite the afore-mentioned "collateral damage," to support an immediate cease-fire demand. Good God, didn't this Master of Misdirection just get through telling us how absolutely sacred every human life is? On strictly humanitarian grounds alone, then, what would possibly prevent any rational leader from calling for a simple end to the killing, if only as a first step toward a mutually acceptable solution to each of the feuding factions?

Instead, the Administration's position is that a cease-fire would only send a "false promise" of "stability and lasting peace" to the region. To which I can only say, "WHAT?!?!"

And so, like a boozed-up gang of soccer hooligans, the official stance of our government leaders is, "Fight! Fight! Let 'em duke it out 'cause it might turn out to our advantage somehow"?! Isn't that the same deranged mentality exhibited by the drunken crowd that cheered on Jodie Foster's brutal gang-rape in the 1988 film The Accused? And that's apparently who we have running this nation.

Into the ground.

The "logic" at work here is enough to make me bang my head against the wall in disbelief. "Since there's no permanent solution on the table right now, there's no point in stopping the violence at all, even temporarily." I want Conservatives to explain to me how that philosophy is compatible with that whole "culture of life," "family values" sloganeering that's been your rallying cry since 1994.

Imagine, if you will, that brand of reasoning applied to other issues in our society:
Since there's no existing permanent cure for AIDS, there's no point in distributing condoms, or being honest with the public about transmission facts, or supporting anything other than abstinence as a preventative measure.

Since there's no existing permanent solution to poverty, there's no point in continuing to waste money on federal programs for the poor, since that money could be much better spent on tax-breaks for the un-poor.

Since there's no existing permanent plan that will make our most obvious terrorist targets 100 percent secure, there's no point in spending homeland security funds based on risk, or in any way other than that which will curry favor with Republican campaign supporters.

Since there's no existing permanent solution to global warming, there's no point in even acknowledging that the problem is real, much less taking steps, however incremental, to address the crisis.

Since there's no existing permanent cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or diabetes, there's no point in supporting ongoing scientific research with clearly ethical biological material.
Oops, I momentarily forgot. That way of thinking already has been applied repeatedly by this dangerous gaggle of incompetents.

I guess there's just one thing left to do. Since there's no existing permanent hope in sight that the Bush Administration will ever develop a glimmer of intelligence, diplomatic prowess, or real compassion, there's no point in supporting its judgments or policies at all. And there's every reason to work toward its immediate ouster from Washington, if only for the preservation of our national soul.

Hmmmm. Looks like that was three things after all.

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Bloggers Against Torture

Please be sure to check out the Blogathon 2006 Campaign scheduled for July 29th, and contribute or participate - even through comments on that date - if you can.

There's been a great deal of talk and ink expended in recent years about what will be the "Bush legacy" - and in my mind, that legacy will be comprised primarily of acts which have brought shame upon the reputation, image, and formerly good name of the United States. Certainly at the top of that list is this Administration's reprehensible embrace and defense of torture as a justifiable tool in its "war on terror."

It may seem to many that the topic of torture is "so last year," but to me it is simply incomprehensible that no one in the Bush White House has yet been held accountable for its systematic abuses - even murder - of unarmed, often innocent detainees. Its open support for continuing a policy of torture whenever the President deems it "necessary and allowable" is a stain on our national character that will probably not be erased in my lifetime. That these policies have been put in place by a group which cloaks itself in "moral values" is the height of outrageous hypocrisy.

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A moral boundary

I've been remiss in my attention to this site (once again) for far too long. I won't bore you with the details. But, with everything that's happened in he news over the past week, it's hard to decide where to begin.

Let's start close to home, with George "Science is the Devil" Bush's first and only veto during his five and a half year reign of ignorance. That this pandering imbecile could so disingenuously dismiss the expansion of embryonic stem-cell research to include those hundreds of thousands of blastocysts destined for the trash bin as something crossing "a moral boundary" - and do so as the President of the United States, no less - is simply the last straw for me in a basket already bursting at the seams with examples of Bush's utter unfitness to run this nation.

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," the President pompously announced last Wednesday. Of course, he and his disciples have had no problem with "the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding political benefits for others" in Afghanistan and Iraq. Between 30,000 and 100,000 I've heard. No one's certain, since apparently brown-skinned Muslim life isn't "innocent" enough to warrant an accurate American count.

And then there's that "taking of innocent human life in the hope of avoiding competent government assistance for others" that this President demonstrated so vividly after Katrina. It's still hard to understand why he wasn't at least censured - if not criminally tried - for figuratively fiddling while New Orleanians died of dehydration and exposure on national TV. "Crossing moral boundaries" anyone?

Not to mention Bush's "taking of innocent human life in the hope of peddling war propaganda to others." I'm talking about almost 3,000 American dead, our sons and daughters and spouses and friends in uniform sent thousands of miles from home to be slaughtered in a military action based on lies and political opportunism. In fact, when you think about it, this Administration's "culture of life" clearly is concerned only with the unborn (a definition which includes clumps of undefined cells), and cares little about fully-formed human beings who exist merely as cannon fodder and collateral damage.

The Salt Lake Tribune had an excellent, critical editorial on Friday that's worth the read. Excerpts:
Bush says these "human embryos" are not "spare parts" and should be treated as human life. However, millions of viable human embryos each year produced via normal conception fail to implant and never develop further. Does this mean America is suffering a veritable holocaust of innocent human life annihilated?

Culturally we do not mourn the deaths of these millions of embryos as we would the death of a child because we know that these embryos are not people...

Bluntly, President Bush's veto will save no embryos, but it may well delay the development of treatments that could save the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
As a boy, I used to dream excitedly about the new millennium I'd be lucky enough to see during my lifetime. A world of scientific breakthrough, alternative energy sources, space exploration, social equity, and incredible medical advances.

Of course, this modern society would be made possible by a forward-thinking nation, led by a succession of educated, visionary individuals with a belief in the importance of science and rational thought. After all, those were the type of individuals who would ascend to the Presidency of the United States, supported by an informed citizenry which shared an equally fervent belief in intelligence and scientific fact.

But instead, the 21st Century has seen only the erosion of America's scientific leadership position under the "guidance" of our Moron in Chief. The "reasoning" he and his minions have championed in their opposition to stem-cell research is the worst type of sensationalistic misdirection. It is, like so many other policies and rationales of this White House, a lie, and its supporters nothing more than liars.

And it is, in and of itself, a clear sign of Bush's total lack of qualification to call himself the "leader of the free world." As I've said repeatedly at this site, this Administration must be removed for the survival of our nation. Two more days is too long for America to entrust its future to the hypocritical "moral boundaries" of this man. Two more years is simply unconscionable.

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