Sunday Morning, March 14, 2004
Trial by VideoThis morning AOL is trumpeting the news that Al Qaida claimed responsibility for the bombing in Spain. When you click on the link to find out what they are talking about, you find yourself at an AP story that begins, "Spaniards voted Sunday in a general election thrown wide open by a reported al-Qaida claim that it staged deadly rail bombings last week to punish the government for supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq." Okay.
Then reading farther to answer the question of how this alleged "al-Qaida claim" emerged, we first take a side trip describing the horror of the carnage. Then in the fifth paragraph we come back to the initial bombshell, the claim that Al Qaida claimed responsibility for the attack. It was what the teaser line said to draw you to the article. It was alluded to in a garbled subhead "Officials al-Qaida Is Responsible for Deadly Bombings". And of course it is a matter of prime importance: Who committed this mass murder?
So when we finally come upon the bombshell in the fifth paragraph it says, "on Saturday night Interior Minister Angel Acebes announced the arrests of three Moroccans and two Indians and later disclosed the existence of a videotape in which a man speaking Arabic said Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror group claims responsibility for the rail blasts."
Is this it? This is all we are given as evidence? A video tape with a man speaking in Arabic? I could have made a tape like that in Hoboken. Are we supposed to take this as proof that Al Qaida really did claim responsibility? I find it insulting to be fed such a claim and offered no more proof than that. Are we the people such innocents that we take the word of our masters on faith with so little confirmation?
Now the thought is planted in the media system that Al Qaida did this bombing, and it certainly is possible of course, but with the evidence we have been given it is no more established than it was the day before the existence of the mysterious tape was "disclosed", after the Moroccans and Indians had been arrested. And for the branches of the dumb-media, this will be regarded as an established fact from here on, and it is likely that no further proof will be asked for.
Most Americans believe that Al Qaida was responsible for the World Trade Center attack as well as for the Pentagon attack. Ask them what they are basing their belief on and if they have even considered that there should be proof for such a belief, they will talk about another mysterious video tape, of a man with a turban and a beard alleged to be Osama bin Laden. But if you looked closely at that widely circulated tape, the small part of the man's face that is visible between the beard and the turban shows a face that is not Osama bin Laden. In comparison of the two faces side by side, the face in the video does not have the unusually long nose of Osama bin Laden. Yet few have ever questioned it.
Now we are back to another mysterious video tape. It will be used to determine policies of enormous consequence. And all we know is that the person in it speaks Arabic, which places him among a group comprised of many millions, and does not -- as the article seems to imply -- give him any authority to speak about Al Qaida.
And on beyond in the mad world of media:
The War on Drugs took a major leap forward as a 96-year-old woman in a wheel chair was charged with possession with intent to sell crack cocaine. (See LA Times, Sydney Morning Herald) The creepy corrupter of youth claims she doesn't know how the crack got in her wheelchair, but canny narcs are no fools. They can see through that story. They hear excuses like that from every criminal. This drug dealer's days of destroying our fine American youth are over. Don't you feel safer? According to The Tehran Times, "U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq." Deconstructing Limbaugh -- Rush Limbaugh is a very smooth, skilled liar. He can weave more lies in a few sentences than you can take apart in minutes. But though it is a laborious task, it sometimes must be done. See Orcinus, "Rush Limbaugh is a Lying Liar". Six more American soldiers died in Iraq this weekend. AP. Bill Moyers interviews John McCain. "BILL MOYERS: Can a government run by prostitutes and addicts claim to be legitimate? SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I don't think so, and I think what happens is that the public interest is not served; the special interests are..... SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I demanded that the lame duck democrat [on the Federal Elections Committee] be replaced by Senator Daschle's nominee, which was the way that we usually operate, a Republican and a Democrat. And guess what? The administration gave me their word that they would appoint her as a recess appointment because they had done that with the other Republican. And they waited until after the regulations were issued before giving her a recess appointment despite the fact that in writing I had gotten their word that she would be recess appointed in October. BILL MOYERS: If you can't trust them, why can we? SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I don't...I can't answer that, except to say that in 20 years around this town I've never had my word...I've never had people break their word to me in this fashion." While the Bush campaign team concentrates on its power to create regular photo ops as it has from its beginning, the campaign is heating up beyond anything that has been seen in a long time. And it's caught the political geniuses of the Bush machine with their pants around their ankles. According to Time, "It's not even spring yet, and the presidential campaigns are running at a pace you don't normally see until after Labor Day. 'It's not just rapid response,' said a top Bush campaign official. 'It's rapid response six times a day.' At a point in the cycle when candidates would normally be quietly raising money and giving little-noticed policy speeches before nodding partisans, both campaigns are running negative television ads in 16 battleground states, and Bush has them up in two additional ones as well." Barbara Bush is worried that the family may have to go through another 1992 and there are plenty out here who want to make sure they do.
March 16, 2004
Give US Back Your CountryThe New York Times ran an op-ed piece called "Rewarding Terror in Spain" by Edward N. Luttwak. He writes, "It must be said: Spanish voters have allowed a small band of terrorists to dictate the outcome of their national elections. This is not how democracies are supposed to react when they are attacked by fanatics. Americans were visibly united and hardened by Sept. 11; the Italians overcame deep political differences to unify in their determination to crush the Red Brigades; Israeli cohesion has only been increased by decades of terrorism. When threatened by a violent few, democratic political communities will normally react by enforcing the will of the many."
What does this conclusion come from? Only the fact that the people -- who opposed the war 80% to 20% -- voted to oust the party that supported the Bush war. Why is this so strange? They opposed it when the last leader defied their wishes and led them into a war that turned out to be even more falsely based than its critics suggested at the time. Yes, they experienced an awful act of terrorism, but is that supposed to make them want to continue to follow a leader who has proved himself to have started a war based on -- to be kind -- a massive error?
Mr. Luttwak doesn't like the conclusion the people of Spain came to about the war, so he says, "This is not the way democracies are supposed to react when attacked by fanatics." How about when led into war by liars? This is the typical attitude of the corporate oligarch-types like the Bush clan. Democracy is the freedom to do what we want -- we the Bushes. Democracy means what we want, and who we want to do business with. Iraqis can vote, as long as they vote for who the U.S. masters want. And it's the same in any other country the Bushie types have their talons into. Haiti, Venzuela. Those aren't democracies. It doesn't matter if the people voted in those leaders by huge majorities. They are hampering the ability of the multinationals to take whatever they want from the country. So they must go.
Anyone who threatens the domination of the superpower and those who aid and abet its New World Order must be destroyed.
Luttwalk is identified as "a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies." Well to such a senior fellow, it may seem like a chess game in which this kicking out of the conservatives is caving in to fear, but out in the real world there are other facts that impinge upon the play. The most important fact is that the cause is not just. It's not about standing up to terrorists, it's about not being terrorists, not supporting terrorists. It's not about Spaniards siding with Americans, it's about standing up for what is right. Pre-emptive war on false pretenses is not a principle worth standing and fighting for.
March 19, 2004
Approaching Critical Mass
I saw a hilarious headline on the front page of the New York Times a day or so ago that said something to the effect that George W. Bush is going to campaign as a "war president." But of course! What else? What else ever!? What an elegantly elliptic political strategy: start a war no matter how much everything in the world is against it -- really screw everything -- EVERYTHING! -- up; then run as a "war president". How fucking brilliant! I should have done it myself.
How pathetic he is, really. The whole motley crew. They looked bad from Day One, from Day One Minus 30 Years really, but now they are slithering in the mud like something nothing any creator of fiction ever devised. How low can they go? How totally chaotic can the whole geopolitical-economic theater of life become?
Actually, there is order. As the Bush juggernaut comes apart and scatters into chaos, there is a coalescing of order in another sphere, in opposition. A reaction to the Bush assault is becoming aroused, becoming self aware, feeling its strength. All the lesser creatures see that the bull is wounded, and they await their opportunity to move.
"Because Aznar pushed his country into war against the wishes of up to 90% of the Spanish people, according to most opinion polls... The lesson won't go away. Supposedly democratic leaders should never have rushed into a pre-emptive war of choice, which Iraq remains, without the overwhelming support of their people. ... Had sufficient numbers of Spanish voters seen any sense in the Iraqi occupation and trusted the American-led coalition to manage it wisely, the bombings would probably have increased their support for Aznar's party. As with Nazi Germany's bombing of Britain during World War II, an outside attack generally pushes people to back their embattled leaders. But believing strongly that the occupation creates a terrorist threat in Iraq that had not existed there before, and hearing the Aznar government lie about who the Madrid bombers were, the Spanish would have been fools to vote for more of the same. However much their vote might give bin Laden a warm glow, they were not about to further empower Team Bush to create two, three, many bin-Ladens without end." truthout.org McCain says allegations that Kerry is "soft on defense" are not true and not helpful. "This kind of rhetoric, I think, is not helpful in educating and helping the American people make a choice," McCain said on CBS' Early Show. "You know, it's the most bitter and partisan campaign that I've ever observed. I think it's because both parties are going to their bases rather than going to the middle. I regret it." On NBC's Today show, McCain said, "No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense. He's responsible for his voting record, as we are all responsible for our records, and he'll have to explain it. But, no, I do not believe that he is necessarily weak on defense. I don't agree with him on some issues, clearly. But I decry this negativism that's going on on both sides. The American people don't need it." AP Spain's Vote the Opposite of Surrender www.opinioneditorials.com Fax thickens Bush's Medicare scandal. NYTimes Contempt for Congress. Washington Post Ted Rall: Spanish Lie.The Spanish smelled a rat. Deconstructing ABC anti-Kerry bias -- badattitudes.com The Age of the Wimpy Liberal Is Over. gadflyer.com "A former diplomat says it's time to blow the whistle on the Bush administration's blatant lies." A brilliant, eloquent and enraged piece by target of Bush slime machine Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Salon
March 20, 2004
Peace Demonstrations On Earth
Bush in Fantasy -- Dana Milbank and Robin Wright in the Washington Post say, "The administration badly underestimated the financial cost of the occupation and seriously overstated the ease of pacifying Iraq and the warmth of the reception Iraqis would give the U.S. invaders." That's putting it politely. It assumes good faith. Unfortunately no longer a justifiable assumption. The article begins, "A year ago tonight, President Bush took the nation to war in Iraq with a grand vision for change in the Middle East and beyond." Actually that wasn't what he told the nation he was taking to war. That may be the revised objective.
The Herald ran an article called "Bin Laden: net closes as troops corner his deputy." The headline starts with "Bin Laden" but Bin Laden isn't cornered, his deputy is. Considering that some of Osama bin Laden's family were among the only people in the United States who were allowed to fly in the first days after Sept. 11, what would lead one to think that Bush would even catch Bin Laden if he could? Besides the fact that Bin Laden is a former CIA employee and the Bush and Bin Laden families have done business together for years, what is all this fuss about him anyway? Why do people pay homage to this idea that Osama bin Laden really "masterminded" the attacks from a cell in Afghanistan using cell phones and laptops? What evidence has the public ever been shown? I find it so hard to understand why people would politely bow their heads and believe such a story with no evidence. The public dialogue doesn't even seem to include the idea that such an allegation should come with some supporting evidence -- something!
In the first few hours after the attacks began it was already established by TV commentators and the "authorities" that it was a virtual certainty that these attacks were somehow perpetrated by this mysterious man living in the caves of Afghanistan, on dialysis we learned later. "It has the fingerprints of bin Laden," the newsmen told us, with earnest, serious looks on their faces. And that's all it took. People were scared stiff, ready to believe, comply with anything. But where was the evidence? Anyone recall? I remember an inexplicable video that was supposed to be bin Laden saying something that implied he knew about it, or at least was happy about it. But photographs of Bin Laden did not even come close to the image of the figure alleged to be Bin Laden in the video.
So on we go on this stupid wild goose chase for this guy who is a family friend of George W. Bush, who is worth a lot more to Bush as the image of evil, creating a tangible objective for his mythical War on Terror than he would ever be captured. Just like Saddam Hussein -- once he was captured and nothing whatsoever changed, the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. Rove would have to time that carefully. But everything they do now is risky. They've created so much havoc, it's blowing back to them.
Now there is another attack, this time in Spain, and very quickly it is decided that it was Al Qaeda. Yet there is no way to be sure it was not a false flag operation, not so difficult a thing to pull off if no one asks any questions. When you are dealing with known consistent and prodigious prevaricators, why would you ever choose to believe them on faith?
And on it goes...
Kerry said world leaders wanted a change in U.S. leadership and Bush challenged him on it. Gotcha! Or maybe not. "Richard Holbrooke, former delegate to the United Nations under President Clinton, told the New York Times: 'It's so obviously the truth what Kerry said, and the Republicans are just having fun with it -- everybody knows it's true... In the last six or seven months, I've been in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. I've met with leaders in all of those regions, and they have overwhelmingly -- not unanimously but overwhelmingly -- said that they hope that there's a change in leadership.' A Pew survey supported Holbrooke’s claims, finding that 'large majorities in every country, except for the U.S., hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush.' The president was rated unfavorably by 57 percent of respondents in Britain, 60 percent in Russia, 67 percent in Turkey and Pakistan, 85 percent in France and Germany, 90 percent in Morocco and 96 percent in Jordan." workingforchange.com Check out the maxi database of Bush-Saudi ties "Who is Bandar Bush?" Governor Howard Dean's new organization, Democracyforamerica.com Another ally jumps ship. Poland's says he was "misled" about the war in Iraq. misleader.org Rep. Henry Waxman's database of Bush administration's lies to push the US into war. www.house.gov/reform/min.
Saturday Night, March 20, 2004
Equinox Anti War Demonstration in New York CityEvery time I go to an anti-war demonstration, my initial motivation is a sense of duty. I want to be there, show my face, stand up and be counted. But when I get there, I remember how much fun they are.
It's hard to describe the feeling to one who has not experienced it, but there is a tremendous, tangible sense of solidarity among people of widely diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds at an anti-Iraq War demonstration. And it transcends not only ethnic diversities, but all kinds of social demographics. From infants to the elderly, across many professional categories. A lot of college age kids, plenty of baby boomers, Vietnam Vets, teachers, hairdressers, a huge variety of humankind. Probably not a lot of the Super Rich turn out for a day like today, but there are certainly plenty of affluent and prominent people who now feel compelled to take part when an event of this kind takes place in their hometown. New York, after all, is the place on top of every terrorist's list, maybe even including the CIA, so it's not just a politically manipulated symbol in New York. It's absolutely real.
I saw John Sayles, the filmmaker and author, walking along in the crowd. He was with three other people, including the singer Joan Osborne. There were many speakers and even some singers at the main stage. I heard Dennis Kucinich introduced as "Kucinovich" over the loudspeaker system, but there were far too many people for me to hope to get near the stage.
Newsday reported that 100,000 people attended. I wouldn't even . In the streets of Midtown Manhattan, where the streets are narrow corridors between towering walls, it's not easy to get an overview unless you are high above in a skyscraper or a helicopter. But there was one place, walking down Madison Avenue in the 30s, where the street heads down and you can see 15 blocks ahead, and there I could get a sense a massive volume of people. When I got down near 25th Street or so I discovered that the route turned right there and went over to Sixth Avenue -- Avenue of the Americas -- then uptown to about 40th Street and back to Madison, where you could walk back to the beginning of the route at 25th.
As I was approaching the march at the beginning I saw a little cluster of Bush-Cheney '04 signs. I did a double take and saw that it was a group of about six young men who appeared to be in their 20s. They were all wearing baseball caps and Bush Cheney buttons, had moustaches and were a little chubby. They were giggly and nervous and behaved like boys pulling a prank in school. One had a sign scrawled on cardboard saying, "President Bush liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan." There was a group playing drums nearby, which made it difficult to talk, but I wanted to just ask them: "If you think the war is so great, what are you doing here? There are plenty of people over there who don't want to be there, many of them are killing themselves. Why don't you volunteer to take one's place?" As my curiosity built, I was about ready to ask them and I saw them across the street, on the other side of the barricade running away, still giggling amongst themselves. That was the only sign of Bush support I saw.
And there are always the conversations that take place between people who don't know each other, but because of the occasion, know that they share at least one common interest. There were a great many factions present, signs representing a huge variety of issues, but they all shared an opposition against the corporate power structure represented by George Bush.
An altogether amazing day.
"Major Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary" Chicago Tribune "The World Still Says No To George Bush's War" arkansas.indymedia.org "Antiwar Rallies 'Round The World" CBS
Now we have an Italian minister saying in public that the Iraq War "may have been a mistake". AFP That's Spain, Poland and Italy for this week. Anyone see a trend? More Defections: A scramble is developing as people start running for cover, sensing that some people will be thrown to the lions to protect the president in the 9/11 cover up. Bush's top terrorism advisor on September 11, Richard Clarke, is now going public with his side of what happened, before he testifies before the 9/11 commission next week. According to CBS, "White House officials were tepid in their response when he urged them months before Sept. 11 to meet to discuss what he saw as a severe threat from al Qaeda. 'Frankly,' he said, 'I find it outrageous that the President is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11.'" Clarke was also amazed when after the attacks, "the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden," said CBS. "They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," said Clarke. This is so amazing it must be posted. Again, from CBS: "'Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq,' Clarke said to Stahl. 'And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, "Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it." Initially, I thought when he said "There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan" I thought he was joking. I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection.'"