Sunday, April 30, 2006

on the eve of May Day, 2006

Consider this from poet Robert Frost:

"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor."

One truth that will never be "out of favor" is that we need to respect human dignity, autonomy, and diversity...

Friday, April 28, 2006

today's question...

Is it still called "transitioning" when you've done it this long?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Staying Power...

Why is it, more often than not, that which has no spine has more staying power?

Last night, on the CBS show "60 Minutes" correspondent Ed Bradley interviewed a gentleman by the name of Tyler Drumheller who had been an official with the CIA, in a key position, during those lean and mean (mostly mean) days before the U.S. decided to invade, and occupy, the once sovereign state of Iraq.

In calling the White House's decision to take our sons and daughters to war in Iraq on the basis of false, and deliberately doctored intelligence, "One of the great policy mistakes of all time," Mr. Drumweller isn't merely engaging in the lost, and vastly underestimated, art of understatement, but affirming what most of us already know about this administration's California stop approach to diplomacy, as well as its propensity for selective perception where intelligence is concerned. What's baffling is how any government that has credibility with one-third of its people can boast of greater staying power than the average inner city cockroach. Even former White House counsel during the Nixon years, John Dean, suggests that the acts of this administration make Watergate look like a walk in the park, yet, like the ever ready battery, this White House just keeps going, and going.

During last night's broadcast, Drumheller also corroborates the findings of the Downing Street Memo that the intelligence which suggested a WMD threat was tweaked to justify the invasion, a fact which many in this administration, as well as in the American media, have routinely, and stubbornly ignored. The question is why????

During last night's interview, with correspondent Ed Bradley, the eye opener came with Mr. D's revelation that this administration knew two days prior to announcing its decision to go to war that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as that reports about Niger and enriched uranium were false. While we've had leaks of malice aforethought from the press before, this is the first time an official who worked for the CIA came forward and confirmed unequivocally that this president, and his administration, lied to Congress, and the American people. If we wanted the "smoking gun," here it is, and unless we're smoking it, it's time to get up from our sofas and demand answers from a government that we elected that took an oath of office to protect, preserve, and defend us, as well as the Constitution, an oath that we now know they've not only violated, but defaced.

As Mr. Drumweller says when he told the White House group that was in the midst of preparing for war that there were no active WMDs, and asked them "What about the intel?," the response he got was "Well, this isn't about intel anymore. this is about regime change." Indeed, we couldn't agree more. The American people has all the intelligence we need, in every possible sense of the word, and clearly "regime change" is now in order.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Equality = better sex..

You may have seen the University of Chicago study, released a few days ago, that suggests gender equity leads to sexual satisfaction.

Does equality produce a better sex life? I don't know, but it's worth a shot.

"What's good for the Goss..."

For once, we agree with CIA Director Porter Goss that anyone who leaks classified government information should be fired whether they work for the CIA, or happen to inhabit the White House.

The dismissal of a high level CIA employee yesterday for having unauthorized relations with the media bespeaks the kind of totalitarianism that has become signature Bush over the past 5 years. Moreover, the underlying lesson is even more terrifying: caution---talking to the press may be hazardous to your health, the health of your spouse, and/or your job.

As the Department of Justice opens preliminary investigations into who leaked information on the existence of clandestine prisons throughout Europe, as well as into The New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning probe of domestic surveillance by the NSA, we need to ask if the can-do corruption epitomized by this administration, as well as their sophistry, is relevant in a world which is quickly being bought out by China and India.

The specious reasoning, and monolingual logic, that distinguishes this administration from virtually every other which precedes it isn't worthy of a college freshman, and there is no way to get around the fact that the highest members of this government broke the law, as well as an oath of office to be keepers of the public trust, and to terminate a CIA agent who was compelled, by her moral compass, to expose merely a fraction of the dread that has dawned on America since Mr. Bush, and his party, rode into town, is not merely absurd, it is tragic. Indeed, it may not be enough to give these folks their walking papers, we may have to provide them with a map.

While the DOJ is at the business of investigating, investigate this: does evading a tax, then striking that tax from the books ex post facto still count as tax evasion, or because the tax is no longer on the books, is it no longer illegal not to pay it? Likewise, does declassifying information that was, at one time, confidential make leaking that information legitimate. And, more importantly, is the president of the United States exempt from "secrecy" pledges that "intellgence" agencies take upon employment. If nothing else, this administration has reminded us, for the first time in more than 30 years, of how grave a risk misguided leadership can pose to national security.

The bottom line: what's good for the Goss must also be good for the Gander...

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Freedom to Op-press

As a postscript to yesterday's story about Wang Wenyi, the 47 year old reporter for The Epoch Times who was arrested on the South Lawn for her anguished outrage over the oppression of Falun Gong, in China, please note that Ms. Wenyi was charged today by the U.S. Attorney's Office with violating a federal law that prohibits "harassing, intimidating, or threatening a foreign official in the performance of their official duties," as Reuters now reports. If convicted, she may face up to 6 months in jail.

What was it Mr. Bush was telling the Chinese president about the need for the "freedom to assemble, and to speak freely" during their photo-op yesterday? This administration has to learn that it's time to practice what they preach.

In addition to federal charges, the D.C. Attorney's Office plans to slap Ms. Wenyi with "disorderly conduct," for which she was initially detained and, if convicted, will undoubtedly face jail time, too. Sadly, we are witnessing a time when freedom of the press has rapidly disintegrated into the freedom to oppress.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Default Assumption

Consider the irony in the reporting today of several hundred protestors outside the White House jeering Chinese President Hu Jintao upon his visit to this country when these same news organizations, or their sisters, are under attack, or at risk of being under attack, to as egregious a degree as incarcerated members of the press in China. Consider, too, that Bill Gates and Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and other Fortune 500 behemoths have decided to play ball, all in the name of free enterprise, and censor blogs, as well as spy on, and report "suspicious activity." So it is, then, among the greatest ironies, that the scions of capitalism and communism have finally joined hands and are exposed as flip sides of the same coin, after all.

During today's demonstration in Washington, D.C., when a Chinese woman protestor, a reporter for The Epoch Times, demanded President Hu stop persecuting Falun Gong, a meditation movement that has been banned, persecuted, and treated like a cult in China joined a chorus of others, mostly Chinese, who denounced China's human rights record, she was hauled off by the Secret Service and charged with disorderly conduct. Mr. Hu graciously accepted President Bush's apology terming the woman's outcry only "a momentary blip." This blip, momentary or otherwise, as Reuters reports, might well lead to federal charges of "willing intimidation of a foreign official."

What about charging government officials with "willing intimidation" of a country's press corps? What about the kind of proscriptive self-censorship that results from fear of crossing the line, and losing one's paycheck, or worse? Maybe being sent to jail like Jiang Lijung and other journalists Mr. Hu, and his strong arm regime, has seen fit to silence. What impact will this have not only on journalists today, but on journalism a generation or two down the road? And, most of all, is there a power outage in the American media, and newspaper business, such that outrage over the arrest of one of their colleagues in such a demeaning and demoralizing manner is not seen, heard, or witnessed from every street corner in this hemisphere. Where is a sense of professional dignity which appears to have been replaced instead by intellectual lassitude.

A Chinese official who was present for the arrest of Wang Wenyi, the woman reporter who heckled Mr. Hu wondered why it took so long to restrain her. Consider the irony in our president's urging the Chinese leader to allow his people "the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship" in light of the fact that it is a member of his own uniformed guard who collected Ms. Wenyi, and escorted her away. Consider, too, how in many respects, the two leaders are similar not merely in their efforts to stifle dissent, suppress the free flow of information, but in their dubious, and tenuous attempts to justify torture and false imprisonment--Mr. Bush and Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Hu with respect to Falun Gong.

When it is a member of the American press reporting Tibetan protestors' response to the visit of a Chinese president, the default assumption is that things are somehow different, and/or better, for our reporters who somehow manage to glean both objectivity and moral superiority. Make no mistake, this is, at best, a dangerous assumption. Indeed, one wonders not if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would have the temerity, as they did more than 30 years ago, to report a break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, but if they'd have the opportunity.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

see today's piece...

"With Tax Break Expired, Middle Class Faces Bigger Burden in 2006"

As tax deadline day looms large on this Easter Sunday, I urge you to read an eye-opener of a piece on the front page of today's New York Times, as titled above, by David Cay Johnston, which reveals that, unless Congress acts swiftly, the middle class will face a grave tax burden in 2006 in the wake of now expired Alternative Minimum Tax which will most egregiously impact those of us with children who earn between $50,000 and $200,000 annually while leaving those who earn more than $1 million a year, like our friend Dick Cheney, unscathed, or with huge tax refunds!

An educated taxpayer is this administration's worst customer, and we are grateful to reporters like Mr.Johnston for the opportunity, and the ammunition, to prevail upon Congress, as well as remind our representatives to work for equity as we may not be sure of much in this cockeyed world, but of this we can be, without the middle class, they will lose the 2006 election.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Stand by Your Man" --Don Bomb and the Torture Brigade

Remember that Tammy Wynette song from more than 20 years ago, "Stand by Your Man?" Well, it looks like if there were to be a remake, in the capitol, of the movie "Brokeback Mountain," George Bush would be singing the tune to Donald Rumsfeld.

An article in Britain's "Guardian" yesterday says that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in the interrogation of Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantanamo Bay. al-Qahtani's "degrading and abusive" treatment at the hands of American soldiers, while not specifically ordered by Mr. Rumsfeld, received his blessing. Ostensibly, Rumsfeld was apprised of the implementation of "creative" strategies such as forcing this alleged 20th hijacker into women's clothing, making him stand naked in front of a female interrogator, and perform "dog tricks" on a leash, as well as other Abu Ghraib-style aberrations which no rational person could deny were tantamount to anything less than torture.

The president has been talking about how he's "seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions (in Iraq)." While Rummy often looks more like a wet pigeon than a military mastermind, never underestimate the power of "the little bastard," as Richard Nixon was fond of calling him.

Beneath his calm, cool, wrinkle-free exterior, Don Bomb has at least one trick up his sleeve and, in the best sense of the word, serves at the pleasure of the president. Moreover, quite possibly, it gives this president pleasure to play football with the family values, and core ideals upon which this great country was founded. I, for one, can't recall when, in our nation's history, we've seen leaders this proficient at passing the buck, and dodging the bullet, even when the smoking gun is aimed right at them. For this, I'm afraid, we citizens must take responsibility. We've learned from American History 101, and the words of another president, Thomas Jefferson, what our rights are, as well as our moral imperatives, and still we vote by remote, and remain pregnant with apathy.

That Mr. Bush, the commander-in-chief of our military, would issue a written statement, this holiday weekend, from Camp David, in which he endorses what he calls "energetic and steady leadership" by Mr. Rumsfeld is almost as alarming as those prisoner abuse scandals which have come to light since he took office.

What's more, if an al-Qaida detainee who is as high profile as Mohamed al -Qahtani is being subjected to such abuse, one can only wonder about the treatment received, at the hands of their American captors, by less notorious, and more anonymous inmates in prisons throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, as well as Guantanamo Bay. That Mr. Rumsfeld, aka "Don Bomb," is reported to have regularly monitored interrogations which were nothing less than human rights abuses under the shield of wartime legitimacy while using hard earned taxpayer money to do so is an effront to every service man and woman, and to all who believe that the "new normal" really began with the Magna Carta.

Make no mistake, should the defense secretary, and only the defense secretary, step down for mismanaging the war, as well as sanctioning cruel and unusual punishment as an interrogation technique, history will rightly regard him as only the fall guy. It is not the secretary of defense who must be held accountable for ineptitude and torture, but those from whom he takes command.

Calls for Rumsfeld to Resign...

Were Donald Rumsfeld to step down, that would be a good place to start...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Understatement of the Decade

"The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency."

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan in response to reports in The Washington Post, as well as ABC News that the president knew there were no weapons of mass distraction before going public about them.

Fatal Destinies...

You've no doubt heard Donald Rumsfeld refer to Sy Hersh's article, in "The New Yorker," revealing the Bush administration's plan to bomb Iran as a trip to "fantasy world." Clearly, the secretary of defense shares his commander-in-chief's penchant for aggravated assault on the spoken word. Arguably, Mr. Rumsfeld might be more effective, and credible, if he were to leave his linguistic exploits to us poets, and turn instead to the business at hand, namely getting us out of a war we had no business being in to begin with, which was, in the best sense of the word, irrelevant, and as much an exercise in futility as any misadventure in combat the human race has ever had the misfortune to witness before.

Whether one agrees with their actions or not, no one can challenge the efficacy of military leadership of Ronald Reagan, and Colin Powell. On the other hand, those in command, in D.C. nowadays clearly demonstrate that the only thing worse than mediocrity is predictability, and combining them may indeed prove fatal to the planet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

at the end of the day...

At the end of the day when this nightmare that has come to be called "Leak-gate" unravels, we will look, with thanks, to the efforts of another Fitzgerald, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who has shown us where the buck stops, who Scooter Libby lied to protect, and how not merely the intelligence surrounding the war, but the intelligence about the intelligence surrounding the war got spun out of control. Go figure, he almost fooled me, this prosecutor, on one day in particular--the day that New York Times reporter Judith Miller was led away in handcuffs for contempt of court. He almost had me believing he was one of those "bad people," to borrow Mr. Rumsfeld's phrase, not a terrorist, but a mobster hiding behind the badge of "patriot."

It might make some who are fond of boxes a trifle uncomfortable to think that a man like Fitzgerald would not be intimidated by anyone or anything to get at the truth, even if it meant what he found, at the end of the day, would completely transform everything he knew, and that he believed to be true; even if it meant that the pledge of allegiance might never sound the same to him again. Somehow, one senses that the truth means more to Mr. Fitzgerald than his comfort zone, and one can only say amen for that.

It is because of his allegations that President Bush authorized Scooter Libby to divulge classified intelligence out of anger at former Iraqi ambassador Joseph Wilson for disclosing this administration's covert deliberate and premeditated manufacturing of evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq that we now know where Mr. Fitzgerald was going, and why his investigation lasted more than two years. Stop what you're doing, and think about this for a minute. A federal prosecutor who hauled in members of the press to name their sources to find out who outed an undercover CIA operative discovered, and revealed, that the White House was behind the outing. If this isn't stunning to you, rest assured, it will be to your grandchildren.

At the end of the day, as this special prosecutor's actions have shown, an act of heroism crosses party lines, and seldom comes from an expected source. We can only hope to see more courage, and less cowardice in the days ahead. This country deserves, and must demand, nothing less.

today's quote--- a ray of hope...

In these most dire, and desperate times, it's important to remember, in the words of a former president:

"Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope; and the one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

approval ratings

Word has it that the president has, yet again, slipped in the public opinion polls.

If Mr. Bush's approval ratings fall any lower, he'll need a face lift to get off the toilet!

Saturday, April 08, 2006


too many Bushes, and not enough backyards...

Alas, it has come to my attention that I made a little mistake in one of my earlier
blogs when I said that George Herbert Walker Bush was responsible for leaking (uhmmmm.... declassifying) information which Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been investigating for the past two years. I meant, of course, our current president, GWB.

Friday, April 07, 2006

it's all in the name...

When we do it, it's called "leaking;" when the president does it, it's called "de-classifying."

When we do it, it's called "murder;" when the military does it, it's called "collateral damage."

When we do it, it's called "tax evasion;" when Halliburton does it, it's called "reconstruction."

like the saying goes...

America, love it or leak it...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

good news, bad news...

The good news is we have the smoking gun; the bad news is Dick Cheney is holding it...

"Three Strikes and You're Out" Libby speaks...

Poetic Justice...

Remember that controversial California law and order ballot measure, back in 1994, that passed by a two-thirds majority? Proposition 184, enacted by that state, came to be known as the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law, and mandated life imprisonment after the commission of 3 felonies. As you recall, other states quickly followed suit in an effort to enable automatic, lengthy prison terms for people who commit 2 or more felonies.

Why do I bring this up? As reported by Peter Yost, a writer for the Associated Press this morning, Scooter Libby, the vice president's former top aide, told prosecutors that it was President George Walker Bush who authorized the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. Yes, folks, former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney (of Halliburton and shooting-gate fame), I. Lewis Libby, spilled the beans, and ratted out his boss to the grand jury today saying that it was Mr. Cheney who told him to break the law, and let the cat out of the bag vis a vis Madame Valerie Plame Wilson. Further, Cheney told Libby it was Bush who gave him the heads-up to do so.

I'm no math major, by any stretch, nor am I an attorney, but unless I'm mistaken it's a felony to reveal the identity of a secret agent as it's classified information, and divulging this information puts him, or her, in harm's way, hence Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation into the source of the leak. Likewise, our president broke the law by performing illegal warrantless searches on U.S. citizens thereby bypassing the FISA court. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Proposition 184 a Republican initiative, in California? And, if so, what magnificent irony that they shall fall by their own legislation. Funny, isn't it, how antiquated notions of "law and order" seem in light of Tom DeLay's departure from the Senate, and the other scandals looming large for the Newt Gingrich gang of mid-1990's November revolutionaries.

There are some who might even consider the deliberate misrepresentation of a threat in the form of "weapons of mass destruction" to obtain authorization for an unjustified, and unjustifiable invasion of a sovereign state, and to do so by means of tricking members of Congress into appropriating for, if not approving, an illegal war if not a felony then at least a high crime, in which case reason, and poetic justice, would dictate that it's time the "three strikes" law be applied to this administration. Maybe, to paraphrase the words of a notable California Republican, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's time to tell Bush and Co. "Hasta la vista, baby!"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Quotes of the Day

Two quotes today. The first is from HANK ROSENFELD folk journalist, and radio humorist, in reference to the fall of Tom DeLay:

"Dig the great rain of democracy."

(Look out Humpty Dumpty, there's more hail on the way, and it ain't "hail to the chief" either.... )

then there's this one from WOODY ALLEN:

"Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television."

question for the day: who, or what, does bad television imitate?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

an extraordinary rendition

Hear Ye, Hear Ye----Something extraordinary is going to happen in a matter of days...

On Thursday, April 6th, at 5 p.m. (EST), in in the Rayburn Foyer, the Rayburn House Office Building of Congress, in the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. , the Center for Constitutional Rights will present a 90 minute updated production of "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom," a play by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo, which first premiered in Great Britain, on May 24, 2004, taken from spoken evidence presented to the English houses of Parliament in February of this year. The congressional rendition of the play has been sponsored by Representatives John Conyers and Jan Schakowsky.

Notably, the same British cast associated with the original Tricycle Theatre production will appear before the American Congress on Thursday evening, and be joined by actor, and activist, Mike Farrell who has said, in a CCR press release, that he hopes by "bringing this play to Capitol Hill we can snap Congress out of its trance and bring them to realize that the prisoners at Guantanamo are human beings who deserve to have their cases heard in a court of law. Americans demand integrity and it is time Congress lived up to its responsibility to oversee the Executive Branch." Amen to that!

Put on your running shoes, and go to the Rayburn Foyer for what promises to be a precedent-setting, consciousness-raising event on Thursday, if you can. If, like me, you find yourself 3,000 miles away, then phone your representatives in Congress, friends, colleagues, family, and everyone you know back east, and tell them daylight savings time begins on April 6th this year, at 5 p.m. when, in our nation's capitol, the lights stay on an extra 90 minutes so, in the halls of the House, we may yet hear the story of some British citizens wrongly detained, and deprived of due process in the ongoing, egregious effront to an international sense of justice known simply as Guantanamo.