Tuesday, November 27, 2007

U.S. Banana Republic

Cartoonist: Kirk Anderson

Why do 'liberal media' go so easy on Bush?

Dave Zweifel — 11/26/2007 11:38 am

If a president can be impeached for lying about an extramarital affair, then why aren't we impeaching a president who lied to his country to start a war that is soon to have lasted five long years?

We saw another example last week of the double standard that permeates so much of America's media these days, the media that so many conservatives claim are "too liberal."

A sneak peek at former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's soon-to-be-published book reveals that virtually every bigwig in the Bush administration passed along lies about who was involved in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame -- including the president himself.

McClellan in 2003 stood at the White House press room podium and said that neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby, the two most senior aides to George Bush and Dick Cheney, had anything to do with leaking to several members of the press that Plame was an undercover CIA agent. She was exposed in an apparent retaliation for a guest column her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written for the New York Times, claiming that Bush had lied about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in his State of the Union address.

As it later turned out, not only was Bush's speech a lie, but McClellan's defense of Rove and Libby was also an outright lie. McClellan's memoir, to be published next spring, claims that five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in his telling that lie to the press and the rest of the nation: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself.

But the McClellan excerpts got little play last week in our so-called anti-George Bush liberal media.

Contrast that with what would have undoubtedly happened had the president been Bill Clinton.

Not only would Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have begun a 24/7 feeding frenzy, but every TV network and big city daily newspaper would have carried major stories about the president being fingered in another lie.

Wisconsin's own intellectual giant of a congressman, James Sensenbrenner, would have insisted on the House Judiciary Committee calling for an investigation that would surely lead to impeachment proceedings.

They did all that, after all, when Bill Clinton was caught lying about messing around with a White House intern. Had Bill Clinton lied his way into starting a war and then instructed his press secretary to tell the American people lies about underhanded dealings by his staff, the Washington politicians and the national press would have run the man out of town on a rail.

Perhaps this administration has lied to the American people so many times that it doesn't qualify as news anymore.

But, I say again, if a president can be impeached for lying about an extramarital affair, then why aren't we impeaching a president who lied to his country to start a war that is soon to have lasted five long years?

Dave Zweifel is editor of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com

'Fair and Balanced' Media

Progressive Daily Beacon
A. Alexander, November 24th, 2007

Conservatives used to decry American media as being "Liberal," but what they really meant was that our media used to practice good judgment and common decency. Talent-less hatemongers such as Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity would never have been deemed worthy of a national television or radio audience. Hannity especially, with nothing to offer but rage and hate, most certainly would not have been given his own television program.

And why would the Coulters and Hannitys not have been provided a stage from which they could spread their hate? Was it really because the media had a "Liberal bias"? The answer, of course, is no! Common decency and ethical standards would have and still should, preclude spiteful and rage-filled people from being given an outlet. After all, what real value do Hannity, Coulter and most Conservative media personalities really provide society? The answer is that they contribute nothing to American society and even less to genuine political discourse!

And sorry, but not providing merchants of hate and ignorance a national media outlet is not infringing upon their right to free speech. Hannity and Coulter and all the other Conservative peddlers of hate could express themselves on blogs, or stand on street corners, or have billboards erected ... and all this they could do without anybody impeding upon their right to do so. However, it is morally and ethically unacceptable that television and radio companies provide time on public-owned airwaves for the likes of Hannity and Coulter to insult and willfully mislead the American people -- to lie to the American people -- and to spew their hatred. More than that, it shows a total lack of good judgment and common decency!

So, if in the past common decency would have prevented American media from providing airtime to purveyors of hate, what changed? What changed is that so-called Conservatives searched the globe and found an Australian man, Rupert Murdoch, who didn't care a spit about the wellbeing of the United States or common decency. The Republican Party helped Mister Murdoch's News Corp gain a toehold in America, so that his vast media empire could be used as the means through which the United States would be converted into what it has become today: A government corrupted and perverted by corporate greed and a military tool to be used solely for the purpose of securing petroleum and other resources for global corporations.

Mister Murdoch's media, especially FOX News, has been designed for one purpose and one purpose only: To serve as the megaphone through which the voices of hatred and intolerance can be amplified and, in this manner, use base emotions, especially fear, to keep people distracted from real issues ... real issues, like the fact that their freedoms and liberties are being erased, while a self-anointed privileged class robs the government's treasury and gives all the taxpayers' money to corporate crony pals.

Republicans know that none of this could have been accomplished through the traditional American media, which was owned and operated by corporations and people that at least pretended to have the United States and American peoples' best interest at heart. Traditional American media used to employ some small degree of good judgment and common decency as a guide in determining who was or wasn't granted access to the peoples' public-owned airwaves. The Conservatives' Rupert Murdoch uses only what is best for his and his corporate buddies' bottom line to guide his programming decisions. That is what Conservatives mean by 'Fair and Balanced' media.

Friday, November 23, 2007

$46 Thousand Dollars!!!!

The surge in Bush war spending

Robert Scheer, Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What can you get for a trillion bucks? Or make that $1.6 trillion, if you take the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as tallied by the majority staff of Congress' Joint Economic Committee (JEC). Or is it the $3.5 trillion figure cited by Ron Paul, whose concern about the true cost of this war for ordinary Americans shames the leading Democrats, who prattle on about needed domestic programs that will never find funding because of future war-related government debt.

Given that the overall defense budget is now double what it was when Bush's father presided over the end of the Cold War, at a time when we don't have a militarily sophisticated enemy in sight, you have to wonder how this president has managed to exceed Cold War spending levels. What has he gotten for the trillions wasted? Nothing, when it comes to capturing bin Laden, bringing democracy to Iraq, or preventing oil prices from tripling and enriching the ayatollahs of Iran while messing up the American economy.

But that money could have paid for a lot of things we could have used here at home. As Paul points out, for what the Iraq war costs, we could present each family of four a check for $46,000 - which exceeds the $43,000 median household income in his Texas district. He asks: "What about the impact of those costs on education, the very thing that so often helps to increase earnings? $46,000 would cover 90 percent of the tuition costs to attend a four-year public university in Texas for both children in that family of four. But, instead of sending kids to college, too often we're sending them to Iraq, where the best news in a long time is they aren't killing our men and women as fast as they were last month."

How damning that it takes a libertarian Republican to remind the leading Democratic candidates of the opportunity costs of the Iraq war that most Democrats in Congress had voted for. But they don't need to take Paul's word for it; last week, the majority staff of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress came up with similarly startling estimates of the long-term costs of this war.

The White House has quibbled over the methods employed by the JEC to calculate the real costs of our two foreign wars, because the Democrats in the majority dared to include the long-term care of wounded soldiers and the interest to be paid on the debt financing the war in their calculations. Of course, you need to account for the additional debt run up by an administration that cut taxes, instead of raising them to pay for the war, by relying on the Chinese communists and other foreigners who hold so much of our debt. As the JEC report, compiled by the committee's professional staff, concluded, "almost 10 percent of total federal government interest payments in 2008 will consist of payments on the Iraq debt accumulated so far."

However, even if you take the hard figure of the $804 billion the administration demanded for the past five years, and ignore all the long-run costs like debt service, we're still not talking chump change here. For example, Bush just asked for an additional $191 billion in supplementary aid for his wars, which is $55 billion more than the total spent by the U.S. government last year on all of America's infrastructure repairs, the National Institutes of Health, college tuition assistance and the SCHIP program to provide health insurance to kids who don't have any.

In fact, on this matter of covering the uninsured, it should be pointed out, to those who say we (alone among industrialized nations) can't afford it, that we could have covered all 47 million uninsured Americans over the past six years for what the Iraq war cost us. How come that choice - war in Iraq or full medical coverage for all Americans - was never presented to the American people by the Democrats and Republicans who voted for this war and continue to finance it?

Those now celebrating the success of the surge might note that, as the JEC report points out, "maintaining post-surge troop levels in Iraq over the next 10 years would result in costs of $4.5 trillion." Until the leading Democratic candidate faces up to the irreparable harm that the red-ink spending she authorized will do to needed social programs over the next decades, I will be cheering for the libertarian Republican. At least he won't throw more money down some foreign rat hole.

E-mail: rscheer@truthdig.com.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something I Never Thought I'd Read

Morning Edition, November 15, 2007 · A teenager faces charges of stealing furniture that doesn't exist. The youth in the Netherlands was on one of those Web sites where you create virtual people to wander around virtual buildings spending what amounts to real money. You pay cash for credits to spend online. The 17-year-old allegedly stole $5,800 worth of imaginary furniture. Real police arrested him. They suspect other teens of receiving the stolen goods.

OK. Let me get this correct: People spend REAL money to buy IMAGINARY stuff?!

The IMAGINARY stuff is stolen?!

I think I need to go run my head against the wall....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gay Dog

Is the dog in Garfield's neighborhood gay or what?

Monday, November 12, 2007

And to Think....

...there are still some people in America who support Bush and the Republicans.....and the equally reprehensible Democrat running for president.

Well, here's some reminders that there are still some sane people who can think for themselves in the USA today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

From the Mouths of the Right

Here they are, being "Christian":

"Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die,
you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You
got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have
got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."

Right-wing radio talkshow host Michael Savage
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them
to Christianity."

Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter
The debate over Bill Clinton should be about "whether to impeach or

Ann Coulter

(And what has she said of Bush's lying, warmongering, and hundreds of other impeachable offenses that actually affect the people of the U.S. and the world? Oh yeah, all that's OK.)
"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I
could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it."

Right-wing CNN commentator Glenn Beck
"I wanted to bludgeon her with a tire iron."

Right-wing commentator Michael Graham (speaking about Hillary Clinton).
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the
feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to
make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American
Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the
finger in their face and say 'you helped this (the 9/11 terror
attacks) happen.'"

Right-wing pastor Jerry Falwell


Just something on Yahoo yesterday that made me laugh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Olbermann's Special Comment: Rationalizing Torture to Cover Bush's A__

The Last Great True Patriot: Olbermann Says the Presidency is Now a Criminal Conspiracy
Olbermann continues his fight for the Republic
Olbermann continues his fight for the Republic
Countdown - MSNBC, November 6th, 2007

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists...

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

"Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them ... was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not torture."

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd forgotten — that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're better than that.

We're better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn't black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded "too independent" and "someone who could (not) be counted on."

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn't count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words … that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said "enough."

Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney general, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a "no" out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The "yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: Why were they waterboarded?

Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared.

If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn't interrupt.

If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the Constitution,

Well, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist?

He'll tell you everything he ever fantasized doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you "flew" onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you'd won in Iraq.

Now if that's what this is all about, you tortured not because you're so stupid you think torture produces confession but you tortured because you're smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction — well, then, you're going to need all the lawyers you can find … because that crime wouldn't just mean impeachment, would it?

That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

Daniel Levin's eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish, and him with it.

Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists.

Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed.

From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people ... into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country's history ... and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.