Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Molly Ivins

Just wanted to quote this from Molly Ivins, and I think I'm going to send it to some Senators and Congressmen:

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

Keep kicking, dammit

Here's Digby. And he's right, per usual:

I didn't expect it to get more than 25 votes and I'm frankly stunned that we did as well as we did. Indeed, something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade.

When it became clear that the vote was going against the filibuster, Diane Feinstein, a puddle of lukewarm water if there ever was one, decided to backtrack and play to the base instead of the right wing. That's new folks. Given an opportunity to make an easy vote, until now she and others like her (who are legion) would always default to the right to prove their "centrist" bonafides. That's the DLC model. When you have a free vote always use it to show that you aren't liberal. That's why she was against it originally --- a reflexive nod to being "reasonable."

Obama had to choke out his support for a filibuster, but he did it. A calculation was made that he needed to play to the base instead of the punditocrisy who believe that being "bold" is voting with the Republicans. Don't underestimate how much pressure there is to do that, especially for a guy like Obama who is running for King of the Purple. The whole presidential club, including Biden joined the chorus.

The last time we had a serious outpouring from the grassroots was the Iraq War resolution. My Senator DiFi commented at thetime that she had never seen anything like the depth of passion coming from her constituents. But she voted for the war anyway. So did Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Kerry and Reid. The entire leadership of the party. Every one of them went the other way this time. I know that some of you are cynical about these people (and ,well, they are politicans, so don't get all Claud Rains about it) but that means something. Every one of those people were running in one way or another in 2002 and they went the other way. The tide is shifting. There is something to be gained by doing the right thing.

I keep hearing that it's bad that these Senators "pandered" to the blogosphere and I don't understand it. We want them to pander to the blogosphere. In their book Politicians Don't Pander; Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro argue:

Politicians respond to public opinion, then, but in two quite different ways. In one, politicians assemble information on public opinion to design government policy. This is usually equated with "pandering," and this is most evident during the relatively short period when presidential elections are imminent. The use of public opinion research here, however, raises a troubling question: why has the derogatory term "pander" been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion? The answer is revealing: the term is deliberately deployed by politicians, pundits, and other elites to belittle government responsiveness to public opinion and reflects a long-standing fear, uneasiness, and hostility among elites toward popular consent and influence over the affairs of government


It isn't actually pandering. It's responsiveness. I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accomodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not "far left" if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that's a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.

Doublethink. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

You know, one thing that we often hear people say about Bush claiming unilateral authority to spy on Americans is "I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to fear."

Leaving aside the obvious - that the Constitution is the Constitution and you don't get to discard it just because you think that you, personally, have nothing to fear - what I find interesting is that this statement implies a tacit belief that the Government never makes mistakes.

And the wing-nuts have spent the last 25 years telling us that the Government never does anything right.

To be a modern Republican, you apparently must believe that the Government never does anything right, butit's wise to trust them with absolute power over your life.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Here are the Democrats who voted not to filibuster:

Lincoln (AR) 2006,
Salazar (CO) 2006
Lieberman (CT) 2006,
Inouye (HI) 2006,
Dorgan (ND) 2006,

Carper (DE) 2008,
Nelson (FL) 2008,
Akaka (HI) 2008,
Nelson (NE) 2008,
Bingaman (NM) 2008,
Cantwell (WA) 2008,
Byrd (WV) 2008,
Kohl (WI) 2008,

Landrieu (LA) 2010,
Baucus (MT) 2010,
Johnson (SD) 2010,
Rockefeller (WV) 2010,

If any of these represent you, call them and tell them that they AREN'T representing you, and that you intend to try and replace them with a Senator who will.


What an ugly word.

Okay, so the filibuster was killed. No surprise there. It was good to try, anyway. I want people - Democrat of Republican - made to go on record as to where they stand and what they are made of.

Last count I heard, 19 Democrats voted against it.

I want every single one of them primaried.

Would I vote for such a Democrat in preference to a Republican? Sure.

But the primary is where you can vote on pure principles. Not for "the lesser of two evils." Or for "wishy-washy" instead of "evil."

Every single one of those people should challenged hard for the privilege of keeping his seat.

Into the valley of death rode the 44%.

Astonishingly, a Republican actually says that he'll vote AGAINST Alito:

GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island also announced that he would vote against Alito's confirmation. Chafee, a self-described "pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-Bill of Rights Republican," is the only member of the Republican Party so far to announce that he will vote against the conservative judge.

This doesn't actually affect Alito's passage: It doesn't say that Chaffee will vote with the Dems on the filibuster, just that he will vote against confirmation, which will succeed without him. But it DOES allow the Democrats to claim "bipartisan" opposition, and gives right-wing Dems cover in opposing Alito. It also shows that it is the REPUBLICANS who have a political price to pay for this vote, not the Democrats.

I'm surpised, but gratified: it looks like there will be an attempt at a filibuster. Who'da thunk? I don't expect it to succeed - at least not for very long - but there will be an attempt. And, of all people, it looks like John Kerry is leading the charge.

Buster is the name. Fili Buster.

Sen. Barack Obama said he would vote Monday to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but he conceded the effort would be futile and criticized Democrats for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court's changing ideological face.

"The Democrats have to do a much better job in making their case on these issues," Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week." "These last-minute efforts--using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway--I think has been the wrong way of going about it." - Chicago Tribune

Well, Barack, yes, they should have done it sooner, but better late than never.

If they HAD done it sooner, it is at least POSSIBLE that Alito's approval would not be an inevitability, and yes, it's pathetic that the Democrats only get up off their collective beltway asses and do the right thing when it doesn't have a chance in hell of actually changing anything.

But the biggest problem that the Democrats have is the perception they they don't stand for anything but pure politics.

Taking a stand when they have nothing concrete to gain is exactly what they should do. Like it or not, the public perception of the Democrats is NOT unjustified. They have EARNED the image of spinelessness by being spineless.

And one way to draw attention to Alito's extremism is to do something dramatic. A filibuster is dramatic.

But I am getting seriously sick of the Democrats SAYING that they need to a better job communicating. They've been saying that for years. Maybe it's time they started DOING it instead of talking about it.

UPDATE: Liberal Oasis makes this rather obvious point (which is why I didn't think of it):

[Obama says that] “the Democrats” are the problem. Because they weren’t “making their case.”

Newsflash to Obama: You. Are. A. Democrat.

And you weren’t exactly shouting from the mountaintops making a case against Alito.

You refused to join the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus when they annnounced opposition to Alito in December, preferring to say at the time your mind wasn’t made up yet.

Just last week, you couldn’t even be bothered to mention Alito when you appeared on Sunday’s highest-rated talk show.

You say last minute procedural maneuvers are what’s wrong with the party, yet you didn’t want to make up your mind until the last minute.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

For the Animal Lovers

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has just completed the largest rescue and migration of elephants in history, successfully migrating 12 elephants who have been possibly exposed to tuberculosis to their sanctuary in Tennessee.

Oh - and they have an Elephant Cam.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Majority in U.S. Say Bush Presidency Is a Failure, Poll Finds

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of Americans said the presidency of George W. Bush has been a failure and that they would be more likely to vote for congressional candidates who oppose him, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Now, when is the corporate media going to stop pretending that this clown is popular?

What? More Dung?

The Bushies in the blogosphere are making much to-do over an article in the New York Sun (a paper that makes the New York Post look responsible, and which was created expressly for the purpose right-wing propaganda). The article says:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed. The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week.

The right-wing's immediate acceptance of this obvious nonsense is a fine demonstration of just how screwed up they have become.

For one thing, Sada's story has enough holes to drive a truck through. There is no sane explanation for WHY Hussein would send his best weapons to Syria just when he might ACTUALLY NEED THEM. Nor is there any sane explanation for HOW nobody noticed 56 planes departing from Iraq when the country was under a nearly insane level of surveillance. Nor is there any reasonable explanation for why Sada took four years to say something.

Bu what's most interesting is who the right-wing chooses to believe and who they choose to vilify.

Paul O'Neill was our #1 person in the United States Treasury Department. A man with a sterling reputation whose integrity had never been seriously questioned in all of his years of public service. In his book, he wrote that Bush was planning to invade Iraq from the time he took office. The right-wingers response was to call him a liar, declare that he was completely untrustworthy on the grounds that he was selling a book, smear him and attempt to destroy his reputation.

Sada was #2 in a branch of Saddam Hussein's armed forces; he was the crony and ally of a murderous tyrant with a regime of thugs, torturers and murderers. And, like O'Neill, he is selling a book.

The right-wingers believe HIM without question.

Shows where their priorities are.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Happy 250th birthday, dude.
You look great. And still crazy after all these years, no question about it.

Right in your face.

The thing that astonishes me about Bush is that the chicanery is right in your face - totally brazen - and the press doesn't seem to notice.

The prosecutor who has been leading the investigation into the Abramoff scandal for two years will step aside because Bush just HAPPENS to have nominated him for a Federal Judgeship.

"Whoa - he's getting close. Let's move him."


Schumer and others are now callling for a special prosecutor.

The timing of Mr. Hillman's nomination "jaundices this whole process," Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in an interview. "They have to appoint a special counsel. I think there will be broad support for one."

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, called the timing "startling" and said, "You have one of the chief prosecutors removed from a case that has tentacles throughout the Republican leadership of Congress, throughout the various agencies and into the White House."

UPDATE: Digby has noticed that it isn't the first time a Bush has done this sort of thing. From just a month ago:

The Florida prosecutor investigating radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh will soon be weighing cases rather than prosecuting them.

Gov. Jeb Bush has announced Assistant State Attorney James Martz has been appointed a Palm Beach County judge, filling a vacancy left after this year's legislative session.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Gunga Dean

This was brought to my attention by reader Kaytoo.

When Howard DEan was guest on her show, Katie Couric tried to repeat the false right-wing claim that Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff. Dean wouldn't let her get away with it.

A pattern is developing: they start with the straight lie ("Democrats took money ... from Jack Abramoff, too, Mr. Dean." - Katie Couric). If it isn't challenged, the lie stands. But if it IS challenged, then they CHANGE it, and load the claim up with qualifiers to prevent it from being a TECHNICAL lie. It remains a blatant deception, but it's technically accurate.

Tracey Schmitt, Press Secretary for the RNC, said this:

"Howard Dean can engage in all the Clintonian word games he wants, but the bottom line is Democrats have been on the receiving end of Abramoff affiliated money."

Notice: She accuses Dean of "Clintonian word games" when SHE is the one obviously playing word games.

What the hell is "Abramoff affiliated money"? If Jack Abramoff bought a Big Mac at a McDonald's , and McDonald's cashier used some of it to give me change, is that "Abramoff affiliated money"?

The fact that the right-wingers have to use such obvious weasel language to pretend that it's a bipartisan scandal just shows how TOTALLY REPUBLICAN THE SCANDAL IS. If it WAS a bipartisan scandal, they wouldn't need to weasel the English language and indulge in bloated, deceptive, gaseous terminology.

"Abramoff affiliated money." Holy crap. Do they think that Americans are idiots that they won't spot such an obviously deceptive use of the language?

Not one Democrat received a DIME from Jack Abramoff. PERIOD.

No doubt

"There's no doubt in my mind it is legal." - George W. Bush on warrantless spying.

There was no doubt in his mind that Iraq had WMDs, either.

Bob Herbert

From one of the Times "for-pay-only" articles. But you can read it here for free.

A President Who Can Do No Right

We should be used to it by now. There are a couple of Congressional committees trying to investigate the tragic Hurricane Katrina debacle, but the Bush administration is refusing to turn over certain documents or allow certain senior White House officials to testify before the committees under oath.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat who is by no means unfriendly to the Bush crowd, said this week, "There has been a near-total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do."

Once again the president has, in effect, flipped the bird at Congress. He's amazing. Forget such fine points as the Constitution and the separation of powers. George W. Bush does what he wants to do.

He won fewer votes than Al Gore in 2000 and then governed as if he'd been elected by acclamation. He dispensed with John Kerry in 2004 by portraying himself — a man who ran and hid from the draft during Vietnam — as more of a warrior than Mr. Kerry, a decorated combat veteran of that war.

Reality has been dealt a stunning blow by Mr. Bush. The administration's high-handedness with the Katrina investigators comes at the same time as disclosures showing that the White House was warned in the hours just before the hurricane hit New Orleans that it might well cause catastrophic flooding and the breaching of the city's levees.

That was early on the morning of last Aug. 29. On Sept. 1, with the city all but completely underwater, the president went on television and blithely declared, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

This guy is something. Remember his "Top Gun" moment aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln? And his famous taunt — "Bring 'em on" — to the insurgents in Iraq?

His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence.

Fantasy may be in fashion. Reality may have been shoved into the shadows on Mr. Bush's watch. But the plain truth is that he is the worst president in memory, and one of the worst of all time.

Many thousands of people — men, women and children — have died unnecessarily (and thousands more are suffering) because of his misguided and mishandled policies.

Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for George H. W. Bush, counseled against the occupation of Iraq at the end of the first gulf war.

As recounted in a New Yorker article last fall, he said, "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out?"

George W. Bush had no such concerns. In fact, he joked about his failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Like a frat boy making cracks about a bad bet on a football game, Mr. Bush displayed what he felt was a hilarious set of photos during a spoof that he performed at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in March 2004.

The photos showed the president peering behind curtains and looking under furniture in the Oval Office for the missing weapons. Mr. Bush offered mock captions for the photos, saying, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." And, "Nope, no weapons over there, maybe under here."

This week, as the killing of American G.I.'s and innocent Iraqis continued, we learned from a draft report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that, like the war itself, the Bush plan for rebuilding Iraq has been crippled by incompetence and extreme shortages of personnel. I doubt that this will bother the president any more than any of his other failures. He seems to truly believe that he can do no wrong.

The fiasco in Iraq and the president's response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe were Mr. Bush's two most spectacular foul-ups.

There have been many others. The president's new Medicare prescription drug program has been a monumental embarrassment, leaving some of the most vulnerable members of our society without essential medication.

Prominent members of the president's own party are balking at the heavy hand of his No Child Left Behind law, which was supposed to radically upgrade the quality of public education.

The Constitution? Civil liberties? Don't ask.

Just keep in mind, whatever your political beliefs, that incompetence in high places can have devastating consequences.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Army near breaking point

According to the Associated Press, the Army is near the breaking point.

Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

Remember THIS little blast from the past?

OCTOBER 3, 2000

BUSH: Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear, whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.

Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win, whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.

And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.

I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops.

The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.

BUSH: I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.

And so I take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military power.

Morale in today's military is too low. We're having trouble meeting recruiting goals. We met the goals this year, but in the previous years, we have not met recruiting goals. Some of our troops are not well-equipped. I believe we're overextended in too many places.

And, therefore, I want to rebuild the military power. It starts with a billion dollar pay raise for the men and women who wear the uniform, a billion dollars more than the president recently signed into law, to make sure our troops are well-housed and well-equipped; bonus plans to keep some of our high-skilled folks in the services; and a commander in chief who clearly sets the mission, and the mission is to fight and win war, and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.

Go Georgetown


Today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave a speech to Georgetown University regarding the legality of Bush’s wiretapping program. It was shaping up to be the usual fascist-justifying affair until some hooded men came in. (No, not these guys, but people to actually be proud of.)

These black-hooded protesters raised a banner with Benjamin Franklin’s immortal words inscribed; “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” Gonzales, intellectually outclassed by a dead man and a sheet, resorted to the only course available to him-ignoring the protest. Not just the four hoodeds holding the sheet, but the 22 other protesters who had their backs facing him.

Speech by Harry Reid

Prepared for delivery to the Center for American Progress.

Have I mentioned that I really like Harry Reid?

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

It’s been many years since I graduated college, but I finally understand what Lord Acton meant.

Republicans today control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. They have absolute power, and it has corrupted their Party and led to the culture of corruption that we see now in Washington.

We have the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, admonished three times for ethics violations and under indictment now for money laundering.

We have the White House, where an employee has been indicted for the first time in 135 years.

There’s Karl Rove, who is under investigation… and David Safavian, the man appointed by President Bush to be charge in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts who was led away in handcuffs because of his dealings with Jack Abramoff and others.

And then, we have the Republican “K-Street Project, which has invited lobbyists inside our nation’s Capitol….as long as they are willing to pay the right price.

The Republican abuse of power comes at great cost to our country, and we can see it in the present state of our union. Special interests and the well-connected have grown stronger, while our national security… our economy… our health care… and our government have grown weaker.

What is the state of our union in 2006?

We have a national security policy that protects Halliburton’s bottom-line with no-bid contracts | but sends our troops to Iraq without body armor.

We have Vice President Cheney’s energy policy that helped Big Oil make a hundred billion dollars in profit in 2005 | but this same policy has America paying 70 dollars for a barrel of oil and families paying twice as much for heat and gasoline as did in late 2001.

We have students priced out of college by skyrocketing tuition - and Republicans in Congress who want to cut student loans in order to pay for special interest tax breaks.

We have 46 million Americans without health insurance and poverty numbers on the rise – but a President whose economic policies benefit the wealthy and well-connected.

This is what happens to the state of our union when leaders put special interests ahead of the America’s interest.

These are the costs of Republican corruption.

The question…. is will President Bush acknowledge these costs when he delivers his State of the Union next Tuesday night?

If history is any indicator, the answer is no.

Watching the video earlier, I was reminded of another lesson from college, this one taken from George Orwell and his book, 1984.

In that book, Orwell spoke of “doublespeak” - naming something just the opposite, in order to cover how unpleasant it is in reality.

As we saw in the video, the President has been giving us doublespeak for years. He utters platitudes about helping Americans, when he’s really helping his special interest friends.

When he wanted to let energy companies release more pollution into the air, he called it the “Clear Skies Initiative.”

When he wanted to give tax breaks to his special interest friends – even though it meant adding more than $50 billion to the deficit, he called it the “Deficit Reduction Act.”

His “Leave No Child Behind Act” is leaving children behind every day because he refuses to fund it. And his new Medicare drug benefit hardly resembles a “benefit” for seniors.

Tuesday night, it is time for President Bush to end to this pattern of deceit. In his State of the Union, it is not enough for him to declare that the “state of our union is strong.”

America can do better, and only the pessimistic would suggest anything less.

In his speech, the President needs to tell the American people what he is going to do to end the culture of corruption and lay out solutions that will make America strong.

The President can start with national security.

In his 2005 address, the President said: “In the three and half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans.”

It took only seven months and the winds of Katrina to prove he was wrong.

Americans have heard tough talk from President Bush over the last five years, but the reality is, his policies have made America less safe.

The President’s failed record speaks for itself.

Just over four years ago, Osama Bin Laden attacked America and took 3,000 lives. The President said at the time that he wanted Bin Laden “dead or alive.”

But four years later, Bin Laden is still on the loose and continues to threaten America. Meanwhile, the number of terrorist attacks across the world has increased, and we now face the risk that Iraq will become what it was not before the war: a haven and launching pad for international terrorism.

Four years ago, the President declared Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an “axis of evil,” whose nuclear threats we needed to preemptively strike.

But four years… 23 hundred American lives… and more than 250 billion dollars later, we have found that Iraq had no nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the problem of Iran has been outsourced to Europeans, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has likely quadrupled.

Four years ago , the President said in his State of the Union: “America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity” which include the “the rule of law.”

But four years later, we’ve heard that the President has ignored the rule of law in order to spy on Americans. We’ve also found that the White House given the green light to torture, even though it violated our laws and made our troops less safe.

After reviewing the Republican record, I know why Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove want to play politics with national security in 2006 instead of having an honest debate about who can keep Americans safe. It’s because this is a debate Republicans cannot win.

Republicans run good campaigns, but when it comes to actually governing and protecting Americans, they have a record of incompetence.

Democrats know that keeping Americans safe means more than talking tough.

It means providing our troops proper planning and equipment, like body armor.

It means securing our ports, nuclear plants and cargo holds.

It means making 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq.

And– it means doing everything in our power to protect, not trample, the rights set out in this document.

Tuesday night, the President must unite the nation behind our most important goal – keeping our people and way of life safe. We need to hear honesty and humility from the Commander in Chief, not swagger from the Campaigner in Chief.

After national security, the President needs to talk honestly about what he has done to the economy.

In his 2003 State of the Union Address, the President said: “We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and to other generations.”

That might not be doublespeak, but it is deeply dishonest.

President Bush is “passing along” problems to other generations. He’s bankrupting our country and placing an enormous tax on our children and grandchildren, simply so he can hand out tax breaks to special interests and the wealthy.

Next month, because of George Bush’s reckless spending, America will hit a debt ceiling of 8.2 trillion dollars

In 2005, we had the third-highest budget deficit ever - 319 billion dollars.

Two years earlier, we had the second-highest budget deficit - $378 billion.

And in 2004 – the year President Bush was re-elected - we had the highest budget deficit ever - - $412 billion.

In baseball, it’s three strikes, you’re out. But under the rules of this White House, that fiscal record is a home run for special interests.

George Bush has no one to blame but himself for today’s fiscal mess. Not 9/11… Not a weak economy… And certainly not the Democrats.

Democrats want to return to the responsible fiscal policies of the 1990s – led by Bill Clinton - that yielded a budget surplus. We believe in restoring “pay as you go” rules. We’ve fought the president’s irresponsible spending, and we’ve promoted a pro-growth agenda with tax fairness for hard-working Americans.

We have a proven record. The Republicans do not.

Tuesday night, the president has the opportunity to show that he understands what is happening to our economy. He needs to acknowledge the anxiety felt by middle-class families, who are seeing their wages go down and their costs go up.

And he needs to speak honestly about how he’s going to put our fiscal house in order, so we do not pass his enormous debt on to our children and grandchildren.

Next, the President needs to talk about how he’s going to fix his bait and switch Medicare drug program.

In his 2003 State of the Union, President Bush called Medicare the “binding commitment of a caring society.” Three years later, we can see it is not seniors the president cares about.

Democrats have always supported adding a drug benefit to Medicare, but nearly all of us voted against the Medicare Bill of 2003 because it was clear that President Bush’s plan would help drug companies more than seniors.

Unfortunately, time has proven us right. The state of our union today is that we have seniors begging in the streets for the medicine they need.

We need to fix Medicare and do it now.

Last week, Senate Democrats introduced a plan to fix the Medicare crisis this White House has created.

Tuesday night, we must hear a similar plan from President Bush.

The President’s fourth obligation is to talk honestly about energy.

In previous State of the Unions, George Bush has offered lofty rhetoric about making America “less dependent on foreign energy.” But for the last five years, America has moved in the opposite direction.

In 2000, 58.2 percent of the oil we consumed was imported. Today, that has increased to nearly 62 percent.

As our dependence on foreign oil has gone up, so have prices. Heating costs have risen by more than $500 per month for some families since George Bush’s first full winter in the White House, and the cost of gasoline has increased by 56 percent – with no end in sight.

Democrats have offered a series of proposals to make America energy independent by 2020, to create new jobs and to strengthen our country.

Tuesday night, it’s time for the President to turn his rhetoric on into action. He needs to level with the American people and admit that making us “less dependent on foreign energy” will take more than giveaways to Big Oil - - giveaways exemplified by the Republicans attempt to break Senate rules in the middle of the night and open the pristine Alaskan wilderness to drilling.

We stopped them, and I’m glad.

Finally, we must hear the President commit to honest leadership.

In his 2000 campaign, George Bush promised to bring “dignity” to the White House… but we’ve since found that he brought Jack Abramoff instead.

President Bush needs to quit stonewalling about his White House’s connection to corruption, and finally tell us how he’s going to reform Washington.

Honest leadership is not a partisan goal. It is the key to a stronger union. When we make leaders accountable to people, not lobbyists, there is no limit to how far America can go.

We can be energy independent… have affordable health care… a strong economy… and real security.

Last Wednesday, Democrats unveiled our Honest Leadership and Open Government act.

I assure you - - that is not Orwellian doublespeak. Our bill does exactly what it says.

Tuesday night, President Bush must show that he is committed to similar reforms.

When the President speaks next week, he faces a choice: offer a fresh start or more of the same.

He can continue to speak in platitudes, like we’ve seen in the last five State of the Unions, or he can choose to come clean. On Iraq… On Corruption… And how the Republican Party’s wrong priorities are holding America back.

2006 can be a year of promise, all it will take is a commitment to honest leadership from President Bush when he speaks in seven days.

He needs to join Democrats in putting progress ahead of politics, so we can have a state of the union as honest and strong as the American people.

Alternate Reality

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." - George W. Bush, September 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.

A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."...

Other documents to be released Tuesday show that the weekend before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Homeland Security Department officials predicted that its impact would be worse than a doomsday-like emergency planning exercise conducted in Louisiana in July 2004.

Monday, January 23, 2006

They admit it

They just don't realize that they admitted it.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. intelligence official on Monday said President George W. Bush's warrantless spying program was necessary because the war on terrorism has rendered laws governing electronic surveillance ineffective.

This is an admission that they operated outside the law.

And they don't have the authority to decide which laws they will obey, and which laws they won't. If Bush doesn't like a law, he can't unilaterally choose to ignore it. He has to ask Congress to change it.

He didn't.

The man has no defense left.

Just trust me

"There have been no documented abuses of the patriot act" - George W. Bush

Interesting that you felt the need to modify "abuses" with a qualifier, George. Why is that?

"Congress gave me additional powers to use force, but it didn't prescribe the tactics."

Why don't you show me a single Congressman who actually thought that an authorization for war could be stretched to mean "authorization to do any damned thing I please"?

The president dismissed accusations that the eavesdropping program is illegal, saying that only calls initiated from overseas from suspected al-Qaida affiliates to the United States are monitored.

But George, you would have no trouble getting a WARRANT to easvesdrop on calls made by "suspected Al Qaeda affiliates."


We only have YOUR WORD that that's who you were spying on. No sane person trusts your word anymore.

Do you think you have a sterling record of honesty?

"Trust me - Iraq has WMDs."

"Trust me - it will be a cakewalk."

"Trust me - nobody in this administration was the leaker."

"Trust me - Osama Bin Laden, Dead or Alive."

"Trust me - I'll balance the budget in five years."

"Trust me - I'll keep oil prices under control."

"Trust me - we would never authorize torture."

"Trust me - I've never met Jack Abramoff."

Some record, George.

It depends on what the definition of "know" is

You know what's troubling about Bush claiming not to know Jack Abramoff, when he obviously did?

It's not just a lie - it's a stupid unnecessary lie.

I have a very low opinion of George W. Bush (perhaps you've noticed) but, God knows, I don't think that simply knowing Jack Abramoff makes you look guilty.

But denying that you know Jack Abramoff sure as hell makes you look guilty.

So why did Bush deny it?

Did he instinctively react like a guilty person because he is a guilty person?

Or is the lying just compulsive?

Seriously, those are the only two explanations I have for it.

But race has nothing to do with it

"Mr. Obama, you're black. So is Harry Belafonte."

Peter Daou has the scoop on Tim Russert's thinly veiled racism and not-all-veiled partisanship and stupidity.

Jackie-boy who?

Lie. If caught, tell a bigger lie. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Bush, Abramoff Together In Photos

Although President George W. Bush says he doesn't recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.

Partisan, my ass

Think progress is right. One hallmark of the Bushies is to try and PRETEND that everything is a political problem, even when it's a moral or legal problem.

Opposition to Bush's domestic spying is VERY, VERY bipartisan. But the White House tries to pretend that it's only those nasty Democrats.

This conforms to a pattern of deflection: The White House accuses other people of doing what THEY are doing. So they accuse the Democrats of playing politics with the domestic spying issue when they are the ones doing so - and they are doing so in the very act of claiming that it's the Democrats doing it.

I think the Orwell estate should sue Bush for copyright infringement.

Scott McClellan:"Senate Democrats continue to engage in misleading and outlandish charges about this vital tool…It defies common sense for Democrats to now claim the administration is acting outside its authority…

Really, Scotty?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “The FISA Act was–created a court set up by the chief justice of the United States to allow a rapid response to requests for surveillance activity in the war on terror. I don’t know of any legal basis to go around that.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): “”There is no doubt that this is inappropriate.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “WALLACE: But you do not believe that currently he has the legal authority to engage in these warrant-less wiretaps. MCCAIN: You know, I don’t think so…”

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS): “I am troubled by what the basis for the grounds that the administration says that they did these on, the legal basis…”

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Warns of Attacks, Offers Truce


I'd be thrilled if Bush actually started FIGHTING your ass.

Day Trader. One Way Ticket, yeah.

Picked up by John Aravosis:

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-Posesses Testicles) has made the charge on Air America Radio that Frist and DeLay had day traders working out of their offices.

For those who don't know, a day traders is somebody who buys and sells stocks online, very quickly, hoping to take advantage of brief temporary upswings in the market. If one had inside information about legislation - such as, for example, what one could learn from a Congressman or a Senator - one could make a lot of money.

Slaughter says she has credible info that such people were working out of the offices of Frist and Delay.

Ka-Boom. At least, a possible Ka-Boom.

What part of "illegal" don't they understand?

Ok - now that's TWO official oversight groups concluding that Bush broke the law. NONE have decided otherwise.

The Bush administration appears to have violated the National Security Act by limiting its briefings about a warrantless domestic eavesdropping program to congressional leaders, according to a memo from Congress's research arm released yesterday.

The Congressional Research Service opinion said that the amended 1947 law requires President Bush to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of such intelligence activities as the domestic surveillance effort.

The article also says, in the last paragraph, that the Electronic Privacy Information Center is filing an FOIA request demanding info about domestic spying. That little nearly unnoticed piece of info has the potential to turn into an explosion.

Now - when is the Congress going to behave like a co-equal branch of the United States Government and do something about it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stonewall McClellan

Gee, aren't the right-wingers always telling us that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear?

The White House is refusing to reveal details of tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits with President Bush's staff.

Abramoff had "a few staff-level meetings" at the Bush White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday. But he would not say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House. - AP

Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

10 to 1 the press doesn't tell you this

The Boston Globe - demonstrating a level of whoredom unusual even for the mainstream media - has ONE article about Gore's speech. The article? Gonzales CRITICISM of Gore's speech.

Here's what our lying Attorney General had to say:

I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president it’s my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example.

I can also say that it’s my understanding that the deputy attorney general testified before Congress that the president does have the inherent authority under the Constitution to engage in physical searches without a warrant and so those would certainly seem to be inconsistent with what the former vice president was saying today.

This is a pile of manure which conveniently fails to mention that FISA did not cover physical searches prior to 1995, whne Clinton signed the law placing physical searches under FISA's authority. Ames occurred in 1993, before the FISA law went into effect. Gonzales obviously knows that. Which means he is being intentionally deceptive.

Which means these criminals really have nothing good to say in their own defense.

But they were only spying on terrorists.

No - they were spying on school teachers.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

Not only hasn't this eavesdropping caught any terrorists, it's been a huge waste of time and money. Not to mention minor things like being illegal.

Monday, January 16, 2006

You must remember this...

By the way, in the wake of Gore's triumphant speech, which seems to have had a more positive impact than I had dreamed it would, let's not forget how he reacted to Katrina, as opposed to Bush's crony, "Heckuva Job Brownie":

Al Gore Rescues Katrina Victims

Al Gore was instrumental in rescuing Katrina victims from New Orleans on the fifth day after the hurricane hit and destroyed the city....

Are the Democrats growing a spine?

Please, God? Please? I'll be your best friend.

"We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence. I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country." - Hillary Clinton

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said: "On a day when Americans are focused on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Hillary Clinton is focused on the legacy of Hillary Clinton."

No, you dumb jerkoff, on Martin Luther King day, she was attacking your slimy ass the way King would have if he were here. And for the same sort of crap, too.

Gore did good.

REAL good.

I am SO GLAD that he plainly said that Bush "seems to have broken the law." It makes impossible for even the stenographers that call themselves the press corp to ignore.

He shifted the terms of the debate. From "Does this bother you?" to "Is this LEGAL?"

Good job, dude.


Since the man's greatness is now clear and conceded, the right-wingers have begun to try and claim him as their own, despite the fact that they opposed then, and would oppose now, almost everything he said and stood for.

Instead of "I Have A Dream," let's popularize this one, because, sadly, this sermon is timely once again. Sorry for the length of printing the whole thing, but what the hey, it's my blog.

"Beyond Vietnam"
Address delivered to the Clergy and Laymen
Concerned about Vietnam, at Riverside Church
4 April 1967
New York City

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it's always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people?" they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans.

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, "What about Vietnam?" They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear
this oath --
America will be!

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read "Vietnam." It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that "America will be" are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954.* And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men -- for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954 -- in 1945 rather -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China -- for whom the Vietnamese have no great love -- but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call "VC" or "communists"? What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered.

Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called "enemy," I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese
and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing
even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the
Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory,
do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and
political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of
revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.


If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

-Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

-Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

-Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

-Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.

-Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. [sustained applause]

Part of our ongoing [applause continues], part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary. Meanwhile [applause], meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. [sustained applause] I am pleased to say that this is a path now chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. [applause] Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. [applause] These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [applause]

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. [sustained applause]

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. [applause] War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low [Audience:] (Yes); the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: "Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us." Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word." Unquote.

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on."

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message -- of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever `twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet `tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. [sustained applause]

They are so predictable.

Right-wingers: On your marks, get set, go:

And smear Walter Cronkite.

PASADENA, Calif. - Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.

"It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Slow Sunday. But, as predicted, the right-wing pundits are, indeed, spreading the meme that Gore's speech proves that he must be nuts - even though he hasn't delivered it yet.

That's the way it is. Anybody who publicly tells the truth about George W. Bush must be nuts.

Anybody who doesn't think America should be torturing prisoners must be nuts.

Anybody who thinks it was stupid to invade and occupy Iraq as a response to an attack they had nothing to do with must be nuts.

Anybody who thinks we shoudn't bankrupt America for the purpose of stuffing the pockets of Dick Cheney's cronies must be nuts.

Anybody who believes in the venerable American system of checks and balances must be nuts.

Anybody who thinks that the President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and NOT the Commander-in-Chief of the citizens of the United States must be nuts.

Anybody who thinks the President is not a king must be nuts.

But you know - it must be weird to inhabit a world in which all of the great heroes of this country and those who bled and died for the Constitution were all crazy, and only those who worship and don't question an ignorant, spoiled frat-boy-who-pretends-to-be-a-cowboy are sane.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gore and the Constitutional crisis.

From the Nation:

It sounds as if Al Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush.

In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic liberties.- AP

Go for it, Al.

What's fun is watching the right-wingers repeat that this speech proves that Gore is off his rocker - when he hasn't even DELIVERED it yet, and they don't know what he's actually going to say.

Sorry about that, chief.

A correction to my post below: The strike on Zawahiri may NOT have been a near miss. He may never have been there at all, and we just wrecked a few innocent folks houses for nothing:

DAMADOLA, Pakistan — Pakistan on Saturday condemned a deadly airstrike in which the U.S. reportedly targeted Al Qaeda's second-in-command, as villagers whose homes were destroyed denied the militant was ever there and thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack....

Two Pakistani officials told The Associated Press on Saturday that the CIA had acted on incorrect information, and Al-Zawahiri was not in the village of Damadola when it came under attack.

A serious question: is the CIA EVER right? This is the organization that knew everything about the Soviet Union except that it was crumbling. Knew that Iraq had WMDs. Completely missed all of the warnings about 9/11. What frigging good are they?

Bush hits a camel in the butt.

Well, they think that they probably DIDN'T get Al-Zawahri. Which is too bad:

Al-Zawahri reportedly targeted, missed by U.S. drone aircraft

Unlike MOST of the "Number Twos" that they get, Zawahri would be a REAL one.

But do you remember what Bush said when the same thing happened during Clinton's presidency, except it was a near-miss on the Big Cheese, Bin Laden himself? Clinton bombed the location that Bin Laden was at, and the drone missed because OBL had actually left a short time before. Well, this is how Bush characterized THAT unsuccessful attempt:

"I'm not gonna fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt." - Attribution

I suppose if a Democrat said the exact same thing about Bush's unsuccessful attempt, Bush would accuse him of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."