July 8, 2003
New Frontiers in Stealing Elections
Bev Harris, creator of www.blackboxvoting.com is revealing how easy it is to fix elections with new voting machines whose codes are "proprietary" (that means secret), giving corporations more rights than people once again. Harris is shining the light on these scams of Republican-owned voting machine companies who don't have to account for the numbers they come up with, but at the moment the story is appearing as far from America as you can get -- New Zealand. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, New Zealand is as close as your computer. Check out "Inside A U.S. Election Vote Counting Program" and "Sludge Report #154 Bigger Than Watergate!". Now the White House admits Bush was wrong about the nuclear material Iraq was alleged to have tried to obtain from Nigeria. In a statement purposely obscure to the point of incomprehensibility, Ari Fleischer said, "The president's statement was based on the predicate of the yellow cake [uranium] from Niger. So given the fact that the report on the yellow cake did not turn out to be accurate, that is reflective of the president's broader statement." See The Toronto Star. The New York Times soft-pedaled its report in similarly obscure terms: "The White House acknowledged for the first time today that President Bush was relying on incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information from American intelligence agencies when he declared, in his State of the Union speech, that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Africa." This language is designed to enable the truth to slip by unnoticed. At this point it's such old news it feels like deja vu. What -- the White House made false claims about Iraq having nuclear weapons? Of course. After this has been discussed publicly for weeks, there is finally this marginal admission that the information was false. Still no responsiblity claimed for the implications of this "error". For less equivocal language, see Deutsche Welle, BBC or Financial Times. The Independent reports that Bush is not being subject to much questioning because his party controls Congress, but his situation worsened when former Nigerian ambassador Joseph Wilson said he reported to the White House that the claims were bogus. The White House claims not to have received that report, which Wilson says is "inconceivable." A Reuters report says An unnamed "U.S. intelligence official" is quoted as saying he didn't know if the tape was authentic or not. But then, why would he? The CIA is reported to have said the tape is authentic. The Christian Science Monitor asks, "Can box office success transfer to voting booth?" Fascinating question. If an actor is sufficiently "presidential" and if he is running as a Republican then the answer is yes. Then all he has to do is be a feel-good kinda guy, tell everyone everything is cool, America is the greatest country in the world, defending freedom throughout the world, and be able to lie as easily as to breathe.
If you are not with the proper right wing establishment views, then you should keep your damn mouth shut or we'll tie you to a missile and send you to blow up Saddam's ass, you goddamned commie faggot! Actors should just stick to acting and not get into politics while our boys in uniform are in harm's way in defense of liberty!
The Christian Science Monitor also ran a report on the morale of American boys in Iraq. Not good, as you might well imagine. According to the New York Times, "Anger Rises for Families of Troops in Iraq." Bush's "Bring 'em on" line continues to reverberate. See mediawhoresonline.com for some angry eloquent reactions.
July 9, 2003
All Hail Bush the Uberputz!
Eric Margolis said Bush's "Bring 'em on!" performance was "a call to battle worthy of the famously dimwitted general, George Armstrong Custer who, like Bush, knew what he knew and didn't need advice..." And furthermore, "As a US Army vet, listening to such adolescent boasting from a man who never heard a shot fired in anger outside of downtown Washington DC made me gag. Bush, let's recall, dodged real military service during the Vietnam War by making occasional appearances at the Texas Air National Guard. Watching him play John Wayne at Iwo Jima for the benefit of his adoring core voters, many of whom believe Elvis still lives, made me realize how much American politics have been debased by the double whammy of catch-me-if-you can Bill Clinton and truth-deprived George Bush." Seven more Americans injured today by a bomb in Iraq in a situation of attacks that are "nearly hourly." See the Washington Post. According to The Washington Post, the military situation in Iraq is getting worse, not better. It's going to take more money, more soldiers, more civilian administrators. It is a wretched mess for everyone involved. Thanks Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton, Carlyle. Thanks a lot. In a country that appears increasingly to have gone mad, a "racist hothead" killed six before committing suicide at the Lockheed factory, one of the largest military contractors in the country, one of the largest receivers of taxpayer subsidies and one of the reasons Newt Gingrich was so well financed. See Associated Press. Robert Higgs cuts through a little deliberately induced semantic confusion: "Defense of Your Home Is Not Terrorism, Not Even in Iraq". He says, "When you choose to fight back against the foreigners' brutal occupation of your country, your city, and your neighborhood, to resist the desecration of your place of worship, to seek revenge for the arbitrary slaughter of your loved ones, does anyone have the right to call you a terrorist?" Trouble continues for Blair over the "dodgy dossier." See The Herald. In a victory for people against oppressive governments everywhere, the people of Hong Kong, by demonstrating 500,000 strong, have averted the passage of a draconian security law that the Beijing government attempted to forced on the autonomous region. Hong Kong: watch out for a 9/11-type pretext. Beijing is learning lessons from Washington these days. See smh.com. Bush is trying to coerce India to send troops to Iraq, but having some trouble. See Dawn.com. Bush and blood to Nigeria. Dawn.com. Business Week weighs in on whether Bush is a shoo-in for 2004. Its answer: No. Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive agrees. Helen Thomas says the Democrats have a shot in 2004 "if they don't go wobbly." Or maybe it should be "if they don't stay wobbly." Good News! The Guardian is going to publish a U.S. edition. The Guardian is operated and owned by a trust that has no commercial interests. It's a news publication of a kind that barely exists anymore, at least in these here United States. See NYMetro.com. Bush's newest tax cut is not a return of tax paid, but borrows from the future by increasing the debt ceiling. There is no "surplus" if there ever was one. So, the author in Yellow Times argues, this "tax cut" has nothing to do with taxes, should have nothing to do with tax rates, and this latest giveaway should not be any greater for the rich than for the poor. It is not a return of tax money, but merely welfare for the rich. Again. Democracy could use a little truth now and then, says Norman Mailer in NY Review of Books
July 9, 2003
The 'Where's Saddam' Reality ShowAOL -- the ever painfully dumbed down -- tonight has a picture of a grinning Saddam Hussein, and the big headline is "Alive or Dead He's Still Deadly". It's got that sort of People magazine feel, that quippiness that makes it sound like a Kellog's cereal commercial. Now we are supposed to be distracted by a little cat-and-mouse game w/ the missing Saddam Hussein. It's a sequel to the Osama bin Laden hide and seek game, by the same producers as the "Where's Noriega?" game.
The focus on Saddam worked to get people into the war, as it always does just enough to run it by a population that is nodding off as far a political affairs overseas are concerned. But the people who are are fighting against the occupation of their country are not motivated by loyalty to Saddam. Saddam may be a rallying point because he is a leader. As tyrannical as he is, he's better to an Iraqi than Halliburton and the U.S. Army. The whole Saddam drama is a ruse to distract from the real nature of what Bush and the boys are doing in Iraq.
PASS IT ON
July 10, 2003
AOL On DrugsAn interesting AOL poll. I remember seeing a strong rightward leaning in AOL online member polls. They usually have reflected the corporate media take on things. What are we to make of this, then? From AOL's "The Daily Scoop."
Did Bush tell the truth before the war?
61% He lied to cover a hidden agenda 6,601
18% He said what he thought was true 1,948
15% Yes, he laid out the facts very clearly 1,560
6% Still trying to figure out what happened 639
Total votes: 10,748
Why are we in Iraq?
42% Oil and money 4,446
20% To finish what Bush Sr. started 2,174
20% Fight terrorism 2,107
11% Overthrow a dictator 1,179
7% Beats me 773
Total votes: 10,679
Do you trust the president?
53% Never did 5,656
27% Yes, he's honest 2,922
14% Not as much as before the Iraq war began 1,474
6% Not sure, let's see what happens as events unfold 680
Total votes: 10,732
And now this:
The BBC says "The CIA warned the US Government that claims about Iraq's nuclear ambitions were not true months before President [sic] Bush used them to make his case for war, the BBC has learned. Doubts about a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the African state of Niger were aired 10 months before Mr Bush included the allegation in his key State of the Union address this year, the CIA has told the BBC. On Tuesday, the White House for the first time officially acknowledged that the Niger claim was wrong and should not have been used in the p-resident's State of the Union speech in January. But the CIA has said that a former US diplomat had already established the claim was false in March 2002 - and that the information had been passed on to government departments, including the White House, well before Mr Bush mentioned it in the speech." The residents of Goree were penned up in a football stadium so they wouldn't make any trouble and mess up George's Africa photo op. While he stood at the former slave-trading headquarters condemning slavery, the residents were in captivity. Yahoo The Washington Post reports that an appeals court has ruled two to one against Cheney's right to keep the papers of the energy task force secret. Those are the records of the meetings he had with energy titans like Ken Lay who essentially created the Bush "energy policy," such as it is. Ad Age reports that some senators, including John McCain and Barbara Boxer questioned Cumulus Media CEO Lewis W. Dickey Jr about his company's banning of the Dixie Chicks on the company's many radio stations and the implication of that behavior in terms of the issues of concentration of ownership of media. Here are the results of The Democrats.com Presidential Reality Poll #20 of last week's declared candidates:
Dennis Kucinich 614
Howard Dean 402
Dick Gephardt 160
John Edwards 155
John Kerry 32
Bob Graham 15
Carol Moseley-Braun 11
Joe Lieberman 4
Al Sharpton 3
The Sunday Express (express.co.uk) says, "America's top spy catcher, Paul Redmond, has suddenly resigned in the middle of his secret investigation into how Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden allegedly obtained US computer software." Representative Jan Shakowsky of Illinois said, "It is not enough for the White House to issue a statement saying that President Bush should not have used that piece of intelligence in his State of the Union address at a time when he was trying to convince the American people that invading Iraq was in our national security interests. Did the president know then what he says he only knows now? If not, why not, since that information was available at the highest level. What else did the Bush Administration lie about?" A New York Times editorial is complaining about the way the Bush administration is trying to suppress the 911 commission headed by Tom Keane, who is himself objecting.
THE MADNESS MARCHES ON
Friday, July 11, 2003
Old Soldier Fading AwayNow Rumsfeld's only defense must be ignorance, a posture it kills him to assume. He told senators he had only recently seen the old, forged, discredited "intelligence" about Iraq seeking nuclear material from Niger. Asked whether he had seen the reports that discredited the claim, "Rumsfeld grew testy," according to an AFP report. "I see hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper a day. Is it conceivable that something was in a document? It's conceivable. Do I recall hearing anything, or reading anything like that? The answer is no."
Looking like recent events have aged him, Rumsfeld seemed to lament the passing of the good old days when he held the same position he holds today under (also unelected) president Gerald Ford. He said, "It's such a big, complicated world and there are so many areas that need to be looked at today -- unlike the Cold War period, when you could focus on the Soviet Union and develop a good deal of conviction about it." Poor Don. Maybe it's time for the pasture, Don, and to pass the baton to someone more alert.
Some well-worked-over version of the earlier report from the investigation into 911 by the joint House and Senate intelligence committee will be released in about a week, according to the Springfield News-Leader. It's a compromise "between intelligence officials who wanted to hold back data and congressional leaders and staffers who pressed for more disclosure," according to the report. Representative Tim Roehmer of Indiana called the information "highly explosive" and said it is "compelling and galvanizing and will refocus the public's attention on Sept. 11." Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post compares Bush to a corporate CEO who is constantly revising expectations and restating purposes when objectives are not met. According to Tom Flocco, the author of 911 High Treason, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on June 16. His view of the events of September 11 are very lucid and unrestricted by the blinders that restrict most discussion on the subject. Here's a sample: "When the 3rd hijacked plane hit the PENTAGON, the first witnesses reported the 'plane circled the PENTAGON in a sharply banked 270 degree turn that was distinctly different than any commercial plane and more like a military plane' and bypassed a straight-in shot at the offices of the JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF only to hit an insignificant spot in the back of the PENTAGON. I said to myself then, IT IS NOT A REAL TERRORIST ATTACK!! THANK GOD!! One hour after the second plane hit, a CIA analyst on ABC announced that it was Osama bin Laden who was behind the attacks!" Bev Harris reveals "Bald-Faced Lies About Voting Machines". What is this? Fox News reporting "Bush Administration Accused of Misrepresenting WMD Intelligence"?! Now for the first time an administration official has come forth on the WMD issue against his bosses. According to The Guardian, "A former US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration in the build-up to the Iraq war accused the White House yesterday of lying about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein." The Pentagon is getting the equipment to spy on everyone and everything. See The Village Voice.
July 12, 2003
Bush and Rice point the finger at the CIAThe Bush administration has apparently determined its strategy for dealing with the deepening doo doo of the phony intelligence that led the nation to war. Blame the CIA. The head of the CIA is a holdover from the Clinton administration. Perfect. The perfect fall guy. Point the finger back at the philandering liberal again. "The CIA cleared the speech..." Condoleezza Rice said. "I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services," said Bush. The CIA spokesman was not available for comment. See ABC, the Boston Globe or "Bush team united Iraq front unravels" The CIA is spinning its own counter-story. See MSNBC.
July 13, 2003
The Buck Never Stops HereAccording to an Associated Press report, Bush considers the matter "closed" about his use of the forged documents about Iraq having nuclear weapons as a pretext for war. "The president has moved on," Ari Fleischer said. It would be nice if "the president" would really move on. Time for more of the "get over it rhetoric," perhaps. But will the American people stand for it as the casualty rate continues to mount in Iraq?
The head of the CIA George Tenet is now "taking responsibility" for the "error", which is ridiculous. (See CNN.) There is no way the head of the CIA can be held responsible for taking the country to war based on fake allegations. The argument is as ridiculous as the idea that if weapons of mass destruction were found to exist in Iraq, that would justify the war. It's a phony argument, set up so that the administration can appear to be justified on the flimsiest of reasons. But it doesn't work. Even if Iraq had had WMD it would not justify Bush's war. Obviously even with that skewed reasoning, the Bush administration still can't justify itself.
Now that it is apparent that the administration's case for war was so flimsy it rested on information that was discredited nearly a year before, it is suddenly presented that it was the CIA's "fault" that the information just happened to end up in Bush's State of the Union address. Framing the argument this way makes it sound like it's just a scandal over a few words in a speech. But the administration is not some passive victim of an error that happened to appear in a speech. The administration was using everything it could find to justify attacking Iraq. To have Tenet now come forth with a statement saying that the CIA "should have ensured that it was removed" from the speech is impertinent. Removing it from the speech was not the problem. Putting it in the speech was a problem, and using it to justify a war was a huge problem. For that the administration cannot blame the CIA.
For a president to go to war requires the ultimate of justifications. It is the president's responsibility for that decision. He cannot blame some "underling" for failing to tell him right before the speech not to put in the information that the agency had already discredited. The information was already given the administration, but as usual the administration says it never got it. They see so much paperwork, how can they be expected to keep track of it all? That might work if we were talking about some minor detail. Not when this bogus claim was used as a pretext for war.
With a very compliant media and democratic opposition and an uninterested public, this explanation may be enough to smooth it over and put it to rest, similarly to how the outrage of the 2000 election theft was swept under the rug. But the public is aroused now and there is even some life showing in the media and the Democratic party. They may not be willing to let it lie.
The Washington Post has a rather tame article in Sunday's paper saying the Tenet had "successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials."
The article forgets that the information had been well discredited months before, but does say that Tenet wanted it removed because "it was from a single source." Shy as it is, it does push the question beyond the justification now being offered that all this is Tenet's fault because he didn't successfully get the presidential puppet to remove the claim when it came up again in January. The main purpose of all this nitpicking about details is to blur the distinctions to the point where people will lose clarity about the whole issue. But the question now is whether the strategy will work, or whether instead the issue has gained too much momentum.
It's not just about one lie in one speech. The Independent lists 20 lies that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq before and during. Here's a table of the justifications used for the Iraq invasion. Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas says the conservative goal of reducing the size of government has been betrayed by the neo-cons. "The so-called conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive growth in government size, spending and regulations," he says. A Newsweek poll shows support for Bush's Iraq policies at 53%, his overall approval rating at 55%. See the New York Times. A CNN online poll showed 93% put the responsibility of the lie about Iraq's allelged attempts to get nuclear material on Bush. In the Buzzflash interview with Molly Ivins, she says Bush is "not stupid and he's not mean." Perhaps he has and affable and friendly manner, but his policies are extremely brutal. The boy who blew up frogs grew into a man who mocks people who plead for mercy and who orders killing of many innocent people.
July 14, 2003
Why is this a story?
Front and center on the Sunday New York Times today is a story with a headline saying "Bush Declares His Faith in Tenet and C.I.A." Why is this a story? It's only relevant if you buy the White House spin that suddenly puts all the attention on the head of the CIA as being responsible for Bush's using a long-discredited claim as one of many lies designed to scare Americans into going along with his invasion of Iraq. Since Bush is the liar and the one who used every lie he or any of his controllers could think of to justify his war, then what good is his recommendation of Tenet anyway? Bush's word is as good as mud. His "faith" in Tenet is utterly irrelevant. But as usual, the Times swallows this crap whole, ever the dutiful lapdog to the Bush propaganda machine. George W. Bush's language embodies a personality characterized by dominance and contempt. See Alternet. Homes were bulldozed in preparation for Bush's visit to South Africa. See thepeoplesvoice.org. The 911 panel alleges intimidation of witnesses and obstruction of justice by the Pentagon. See The Guardian.