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Factinista Archives, June 2006
 


 

Cowards
June 30th, 2006


The Bush administration is chock-full of whimpering cowards. They rule the world’s most powerful country, with the largest most powerful army the world has ever known, but they cower in fear of small bands of Islamic militants around the world. The Cheney administration is the most paranoid and insecure administration in US history.

The “Decider in Chief” says that evildoers are out to get us, and that we all need to cower in fear just the way the administration does.

Only a coward would imprison people without trial or representation, because they fear what will be revealed in court. Even the very conservative Supreme Court has ruled that the Cheney administration can not use military tribunals, as dictatorships are want to do, to try prisoners.

Only a coward would erode constitutional rights in the United States because a handful of people are threatening our country. A strong leader would not use the excuse that “everything has changed after 9/11”, but rather would say nothing has changed, and that terrorist acts cannot eat away at the fabric of our constitutional system.

Only a coward would start spying on their own citizens under the guise of protecting them from evildoers.

Only a coward would out a covert CIA agent for political purposes, and then lie in public by saying “we want to catch the leakers”.

Only a coward would fail to take responsibility for their failure to act after the Katrina disaster. Only a coward would try to blame their failings on others.

Only a coward would lie about the reasons for going to war. A statesman would trust the people of the country to make the right choice based on facts.

Only a coward would do everything possible to stay out of the Vietnam War, only to call veterans who served bravely “cowards that cut and run”. That is the ultimate form of cowardice.

I long for the days when our leaders had a spine and morals, and engaged in statesmanship, rather than cowardice and fear mongering.

Dr John


 

Dawn of the Super Citizen
June 28th, 2006


Against the backdrop of Republican-orchestrated voter suppression in Ohio and other swing states, and the Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals, the Supreme Court has ruled again that putting limits on campaign spending is unconstitutional. In their infinite wisdom they have stated that putting limits on campaign financing violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and parties (precedent: Buckley v. Valeo, 1976). The rationale offered was that lesser-known candidates could not mount an effective campaign against incumbents.

That shallow analysis assumes that public financing of elections is out of the question. In effect, it confers a sort of super citizenship upon corporations and wealthy people who fund political campaigns, and then ask for political favors. You, as a private citizen, get a dubious smidgeon of free speech when you give 50 bucks to a campaign. When it comes to giant corporations, on the other hand, the more money they have the more free speech they can buy. If they also own the media companies that own the news media, they become truly super duper citizens indeed.

If the learned members of the Supreme Court were actually concerned about free speech, as opposed to corporate-purchased airtime, their opinions would have contained a grain of concern for the corrupting influence of money in politics. Instead, the Supreme Court implies that if you want to have a voice in politics, you need to put your money where your mouth is. No money, no speech. In a sense, our system imposes a “voluntary poll tax” on those who give small political contributions. That money goes straight to media companies in the form of political ad revenues.

The end result of this money-driven political system is that corporations give huge contributions to candidates and expect something from the politicians in return. Average citizens, on the other hand, give small donations to politicians - adding up to millions of dollars - and all of those dollars are funneled to the very media corporations that are supposed to keep the public informed. The news media have an extremely vested interest in maintaining the status quo where every two years hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into their bank accounts for each election cycle. If public financing of elections ever became law in the United States, TV and radio stations would be forced to give free air time to all candidates. That is something that media corporations will never stand for. So expect to hear little about public financing from the news media, unless they have something very derogatory to say about it.

As long as the Supreme Court continues to rule that collecting and spending money is a type of free speech, then they are opening the dawn of a new age where corporations, especially corporations that own major media outlets, become “super citizens” with far more power and control than any citizen, or citizen group could muster.

Write your senators today and demand public financing of elections, and while you’re at it, demand a uniform US voting system that leaves an auditable paper trail.

Dr John
 


 

Cheney's Concept of National Security
June 27th, 2006


Dick Cheney, the “dark side” Darth Vader who is actually running the Bush administration, says that disclosing illegal actions by the government is outrageous, and that the reporters involved should be indicted and jailed. Bush, the puppet president, says it is “disgraceful to leak information” (except when he does it to CIA agents).

Dick Cheney said of the disclosure about the government sifting through everyone’s bank accounts: "The New York Times has now twice on two separate occasions disclosed programs; both times they had been asked not to publish those stories by senior administration officials. They went ahead anyway. The leaks to The New York Times and the publishing of those leaks is very damaging."

So Dick thinks that when he does something illegal, he can just tell reporters to shut up, and they will. Otherwise, "national security" is jeopardized.

What Dick really means is that the news is damaging for his administration, their credibility, and their ability to continue to ignore the laws of the United States. If there's one thing Dick hates, it's people checking in to his illegal activities. Keep in mind that the New York Times had the story on the illegal government spying program against US citizens before the 2004 election. At the behest of Dick Cheney, the Times did not report it until well after the election was stolen in Ohio by Ken Blackwell. Apparently, doing Dick's bidding doesn't involve delaying embarrassing stories; it involves burying them for good.

The New York Times has bent over backwards for Dick on numerous occasions, but Dick is still not satisfied. He wants the New York Times to become a state propaganda machine, only reporting things Dick wants reported. Quite ironic considering that Dick Cheney said once upon a time that the US had to rid the earth of totalitarian governments like that in the Soviet Union. Dick sure has strange ideas about freedom and democracy in America.

When is the US press corps going to get tired of being told what to say by the Cheney administration?

Dr John


 

Grover Gate
June 25th, 2006


Grover Norquist is the American Treasure who is famous for saying years ago, “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” He is also known as the founder of the fanatical anti-tax group called Americans for Tax Reform, or ATR.

Now Grover is going to be known for something else, being a tax cheat and money launderer for Jack Abramoff. Grover funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of Jack Abramoff’s lobbying money, which was not tax exempt, through ATR which is a tax exempt organization. So how's that for irony? Grover uses his anti-tax, tax-exempt organization as a way to launder lobbyist money in order to avoid paying taxes on it. On top of that, Grover took a cut of each transaction that illegally passed through his tax-exempt, anti-tax organization.

Conservative Republicans like to boast about their patriotic fervor for America, but when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes, their patriotism wanes rapidly. They support the president's unnecessary overseas war in Iraq, but they don't want to pay for it. They support eliminating the estate tax for rich people, but they are vehemently against even small increases in the minimum wage for working people. Republicans who despise the federal government and who don't feel obligated to pay their fair share of taxes are not patriotic, they're just plain selfish and hypocritical. Let's wait to see what happens with the tax-exempt status of Grover's ATR organization, and what I hope would be a mandatory IRS audit of their books.

Honest, hard-working, tax paying Americans of both parties should be outraged at the Abramoff scandal, and the way Republicans like Grover Norquist flaunt the tax and political financing laws of this country.

Dr John


 

An Open Letter to the NY Times
June 25th, 2006


Dear Mr. Calame,

I grew up in the New York area, and from my teenage years on I read the New York Times just about every day. I especially loved the Tuesday science section. I now live in the Washington area and I go to the New York Time's web site every morning. However, in recent years I rarely click on or read any of the stories because for the most part they seem to partisanly favor the Bush administration in every possible way.

The New York Times was even motivated to question their own prewar reporting for its obvious shortcomings. Nonetheless, in the aftermath of that moment of self reflection, I rarely see hard-hitting, unpleasant-truth type reporting about the war in Iraq or the loss of privacy and civil liberties here at home in your paper. This is particularly disturbing because our government is now fully controlled by Republicans in both the legislative and executive branches. But rather than acting as a contravening force to counterbalance the lopsided political landscape, you seem to almost invariably favor the party in power. That seems antithetical to the mission of the Fourth Estate, and their essential role in holding the party in power to account for their actions.

You even had a front-page article on the Clinton's marriage recently. Is there some special reason why you're not having a similar front-page story on the increasingly rocky Bush marriage? He is, after all, the sitting President rather than the former President. How come I have not seen any front-page stories on the generational split between Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. over the Iraq war, and the torturing of prisoners? Why does the New York Times ignore the crimes and misdemeanors of Kenneth Blackwell and his past and present attempts to suppress voter registration and turnout in Ohio? All good questions that I doubt I will ever get an answer to.

Or perhaps you will prove me wrong and answer my questions now.

Sincerely,

John R. Moffett Ph.D.
Gaithersburg Maryland

Write the NY Times: Mr. Calame
 


 

Chicken Hawk Talk… Chicken Hawk Walk
June 23rd, 2006


Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, has called for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. He says he believes that the Iraqi army can have the security situation well in hand by 2008, and most US troops should be able to withdraw by the end of 2007. A recent poll in Iraq showed that approximately 80% of the Iraqi people would like US troops to leave in the near term.

Keep in mind that it was over three years ago that George Bush stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, with the mission accomplished banner splashed behind him, and announced that America and its allies had prevailed in the war against Iraq. Three years later, the Senate can't even hold a civil debate on a timetable for withdrawing our troops from the midst of a serious and growing insurgent civil war. Republicans, at Karl Roves bidding, accuse veteran Democrats like John Martha and John Kerry of wanting to “cut and run”. In the Senate today, both resolutions on timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq were voted down.

Just recently, Congress voted for another supplementary spending bill totaling over 90 billion dollars to fund continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the grand total so far to well over 300 billion dollars. Even as the US pours borrowed money into these fiscal (and political) black holes, we are nonetheless running out of money in Iraq, and the Bush administration is being forced to shut down reconstruction projects, and pull contracts from US firms who have proved incapable of fulfilling their no-bid construction projects.

Beyond the well-documented Iraqi government corruption and billions of dollars-gone-missing in Iraq, another major reason for the huge cost overruns is that vast sums of money have been spent on private security contractors and mercenaries who cost the DoD 3 to 5 times as much money as enlisted personnel to perform the same job. This is just one more facet of the Bush administration’s policy to privatize (monetize) all government functions, including the military.

The chicken hawks in the Bush administration, who never themselves served a single day in the military, talk plenty of tough-guy chicken hawk talk, and call war veterans like John Murtha “cowards who want to cut and run”. But when it comes to actually getting things right in Iraq, and implementing a workable exit strategy, the Bush administration just can’t walk the walk.

But any discussion of a timetable for troop withdrawal might be moot, because unfortunately, the Bush administration may not want any exit strategy for Iraq. They refuse to renounce the idea of permanent US military bases in Iraq, and they are building what looks like a permanent military infrastructure there. Questions we might ask ourselves include; is the US military patrolling the skies of the Middle East from Iraqi air bases? How many US military bases have already been built in Iraq, and how many more are under construction? Is the US military spying on other countries from bases in Iraq? Is the US military building a permanent command and control infrastructure in Iraq, which it has no intention of ever turning over to the Iraqis?

My guess is that the answer to all of these questions is, yes.

Dr John
 


 

The Administration that Cried Wolf… and Wolf… and Wolf…
June 19th, 2006


A book by Ron Suskind will be released tomorrow June 20, called “The 1% Doctrine” which supposedly details the Bush administration's secret war against terrorists in the United States. Keep in mind that Ron Suskind is a reporter for the very conservative, Bush allied Wall Street Journal. According to the book, Bush has saved thousands of US lives, bolstering Karl Rove’s contention that only Republicans will keep US citizens safe.

What I find most interesting about this supposed attack on New York subways with cyanide gas was that the government says that they knew all about the attack, and the fact that it was supposedly called off in 2003. Notice how they didn't tell you anything about it until their poll numbers were sagging lower than Karl Rove’s jowls in 2006, a full 3 years later. Hmm, imagine that.

At this point, the Bush administration has virtually nothing going for it except for the war on terrorism and using fear to garner votes from worried citizens. I cannot conceive of a worse platform for governing from. They will erroneously tie the Iraq war to terrorism, and they will play the news media like a fiddle, just the way they did with Ron Suskind, in order to terrify the citizens of the US into voting Republican.

This is not just the administration that cried wolf in order to strike fear into the citizenry, this is the administration that cried wolf, and then cried wolf again, and then again and again and again. Even in children's stories people stop believing the Wolf Criers after a time, but the big question for the 2006 election is, will the American people still listen to them after they have cried wolf falsely over and over again for five years? Will they believe that George Bush is working hard to save all of their lives from imminent doom? Undoubtedly a significant proportion of the population will. But the calculus for Karl Rove will fail if they don't get over 50% of the popular (and electoral) votes.

So as Congressman John Murtha said yesterday, Karl Rove sits in his air-conditioned office on his big fat butt, saying “stay the course”. And as John Murtha said, “that's not a plan”. Of course it isn't. The Bush administration had a plan that involved children tossing flowers and chocolates at our soldiers, and a blossoming democracy in Iraq resulting in a reverse domino effect toppling Islamic governments throughout the Middle East. No one would question US power ever again. In retrospect, it was a ludicrous pipe dream, and definitely not a plan.

Dr John


 

The Silent Wheel Gets the Shaft
June 17th, 2006


Conservative Republicans hold great sway over the US news media for a number of reasons. The usual list of suspects includes:

1) news media consolidation under the control of large corporations,

2) pressure to be pro-Republican from management, publishers, editors and corporate advertisers,

3) fear of being labeled “liberal” after years of derision from conservatives,

4) fear of losing access to White House briefings and administration sources,

5) a pack mentality among the press,

6) the unusually friendly nature of the relationship between the press corps and Republicans, especially those in the White House, and

7) the September 11 terrorist attacks have been used by the administration to effectively silence the press from criticizing policies and decisions.

However, there are other significant, but perhaps less discussed reasons why the mainstream media now tend to lean significantly to the right, despite being criticized for leaning left. Entire books have now been written on how the mainstream news media have been soft on President Bush as compared to their treatment of President Clinton. Many people, including author Eric Boehlert, have commented on the fact that the mainstream media went from attack dogs to lap dogs coincidentally with the turn of administrations.

A critical underpinning of the conservative media tilt is what has been termed by media analysts such as David Brock as “the right-wing noise machine”. However, this terminology tends to trivialize one of the most serious threats to our democracy. Without a healthy, independent and skeptical press corps, one of the major checks and balances in our system of free government has been compromised. I believe the problem is better described as the “Republican-corporate propaganda machine”.

The four primary driving forces that feed and sustain the Republican-corporate propaganda machine are 1) reduced taxes on corporations and the very rich, 2) new laws permitting increased media consolidation, 3) special access and arrangements between corporate lobbyists and Republicans, and 4) special access and arrangements between “journalists” and administration officials. All four of these forces combine to provide great impetus for news media corporations to be biased in favor of the current administration. Turn on any financial channel and you'll hear panicked, shrill banter about keeping Democrats out of power in order to keep the (wealthy-biased) tax cuts in place. Apparently, for Republicans, patriotism stops were taxes begin.

The Republican-corporate propaganda machine uses numerous techniques to keep the US public distracted and misinformed on key issues that affect everyone in this country. You will rarely hear serious discussions about the looming $9 trillion US debt, or the stagnation of the minimum wage in this country. The corporate-controlled media will often lash out at unions, or immigrants, and always against liberals and Democrats that would try to bring fiscal responsibility back to the US government. As far as Wall Street is concerned, the wild profit orgy will be over if the Democrats take control of either the House or Senate. Fear of Democratic fiscal responsibility may be the single greatest driving force behind the right-ward tilt of the corporate-controlled news media.

The major daily tactic of the Republican-corporate propaganda machine is to overwhelm the system with angry rhetoric - angry rhetoric coming from radio talk shows, angry rhetoric coming from administration officials, spokespersons, and Republican members of Congress, and attempts to drum up angry rhetoric from the conservative base using all available media outlets. This is the age-old idea that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. If you don't make a lot of noise, you won't get your way. So even though Republicans control all branches of government, they need to make as much noise as possible to drown out any dissent.

Liberals are finally trying to fight back with a smattering of talk radio, and with Internet news sites and blogs, but they can't match the sheer volume of the corporate-controlled airwaves, and their deep-pocketed corporate backers. Combined with the fact that the highly diluted liberal message is also disjointed and factionalized, and you have a recipe for perpetual Republican control of our government. Further, the demoralized Democratic base does not complain to their elected representatives at anywhere near the level that Republicans do. Many Democrats have given up on politics and no longer pay attention or participate. That's just how the Republicans like it. Until Democrats unite to formulate a sound, popular plan for moving the country forward, and until they articulate it loud and clear to the public, the silent wheel will just get the shaft. Who needs to grease a silent wheel?

Democrats need to reawaken, energize and speak out. Write your Senators and Congressperson at least once a week to let them know exactly how you feel. Become a squeaky wheel.

Links:

House

Senate

Dr John


 

 
C6H12O6  ---------->  2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2
June 14, 2006


The above equation is not good news for ethanol producers. As a biologist I've been thinking about renewable energy sources such as ethanol, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion. Ethanol may not be the best renewable energy source that we can come up with, and I will explain why.

I used to brew beer at home, no not from those syrupy kits, from actual four-row malted barley, water, brewers yeast and dried hops. One thing all beer brewers know very well is that yeast are very busy little creatures who spend all day converting sugar into ethanol and CO2.  When beer is brewing, the vat is literally bubbling madly with CO2.

For each molecule of sugar, let's say glucose as in the chemical equation above, two molecules of ethanol are produced, as are two molecules of CO2 gas. What this means is that as we produce ethanol, we create one molecule of CO2 gas for every molecule of ethanol. When the ethanol is burned in a vehicle, two additional molecules of CO2 are produced. Therefore, unlike gasoline, we are creating a greenhouse gas both at the time of ethanol production, and again at the time of ethanol combustion.

If global warming truly is a major concern for mankind, then producing additional CO2 gas by the millions of tons as we ferment plant products into ethanol will simply be making the problem worse in an attempt to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol may be a temporary stopgap measure on the way to hydrogen powered vehicles, but it is one that is almost certain to exacerbate global warming more so than the combustion of fossil fuels. Ethanol producers could capture the CO2 generated by fermentation, and dispose of it several ways, but that would just drive up the cost of making ethanol.

Dr John


 

 

Bush’s Way of Earning Political Capital
June 8, 2006


Two days after the 2004 election, George Bush held a news conference and declared, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it”.

Pardon me? He earned political capital in the 2000 election where he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by 500,000? Only an extremely arrogant, self righteous person could possibly spin losing the popular vote into “earning political capital”.

Despite the fact that the mainstream media portrayed the 2004 election as a trouncing of John Kerry, and a mandate for George Bush, a more detailed analysis of the election might suggest that Bush earned as little, or less political capital in 2004 as he did in 2000. But the mainstream press had no stomach for it, and the White House likes it that way.

At the same news conference right after the 2004 election, Bush said this to the White House correspondents before him - “I want to thank you all for your hard work in the campaign. I told you that the other day, and you probably thought I was just seeking votes. (Laughter from the press). But now that you voted, I really meant it. I appreciate the hard work of the press corps. We all put in long hours, and you're away from your families for a long period of time. But the country is better off when we have a vigorous and free press covering our elections. And thanks for your work. Without over-pandering, I'll answer a few questions”. (Laughter from the press).

So much for the Independent Media in America.

After dividing the nation along party lines, and setting Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats during the run-up to the election, the Republican Party still felt they needed to cheat in order to win. Bush's approval was already below 50% before the election, an ominous sign for a sitting president who was coming up for reelection. This may have been the major impetus for Republicans in several critical states to step well over the line of honest electioneering.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has written a controversial article that has been ignored by the mainstream press and vilified in many online forums. The major points made by Kennedy have been made before but are certainly worth reviewing in brief.

Major alleged GOP tactics in Ohio:

1) Massive purging of the voter rolls, removing many legitimate voters and thus preventing them from voting.

2) Putting in place absurd requirements for voter registration including insisting that registrations only be submitted on a particularly heavy-weight paper. Registrations submitted on lighter-weight paper were discarded.

3) Unequal distribution of voting machines to various districts resulting in exceptionally long lines, and wait times of hours in urban, Democratic precincts. This contrasts with adequate numbers of voting machines in Republican districts where there were much shorter lines.

4) Many voter registration cards were never processed and therefore potential voters were never added to the voting rolls, with the majority of new registrations being Democratic.

5) The Republicans also used the tactic known as “Caging”, which was outlawed in the 1980s after the Republicans used it then in New Jersey and Louisiana. The Republicans brought caging back to Ohio in 2004. The tactic involves sending mail to registered voters that you hope to knock from the polling lists. If the recipients did not respond to the mailings, which might look like junk mail to some, their names were removed from the voter rolls. This was done only 11 days before the election, giving voters very little time to respond, obviously on purpose.

This list goes on, including the fact that the exit polls and the final tallies varied dramatically, more so than any other recent election. Also, as occurred with Katherine Harris in Florida in the 2000 vote, Kenneth Blackwell was both the Secretary of State of Ohio in charge of elections, while simultaneously being the cochair of the Bush Cheney reelection campaign in Ohio.

Farhad Manjoo at Salon.com takes on Kennedy, and makes every excuse possible for the election fraud that occurred in Ohio, something you might expect from the mainstream conservative media, rather than the so-called liberal media. He makes a few good points on detail, but he repeatedly excuses the inexcusable occurrences in the 2004 election throughout his article, and derides Kennedy for even bringing the subject up.

Manjoo’s entire thesis was that no matter how you divvied up the fraud, incompetence and malfeasance on Election Day in Ohio in 2004, it still would not have tipped the balance in favor of Kerry. Is that the real issue here… that perhaps the blatant fraud in Ohio in 2004 was not enough to award victory to John Kerry? If so, then our democratic system is in far greater danger than I had suspected. When people accept rampant voter fraud orchestrated by the highest levels of a state government, in this case Kenneth Blackwell and the Ohio GOP, then we have basically thrown up our arms and said “Who cares? They're all a bunch of crooks anyway!” If America has truly become that unconcerned with the legitimacy and integrity of our voting system, then we deserve whatever negative consequences follow from that egregious level of civic disregard.

Manjoo spent most of his time picking apart Kennedy's weaker arguments, not by proving them false, but by saying that Kennedy's numbers were exaggerated, and therefore even with all the corruption, the election still would not have gone to John Kerry. In one particularly pathetic argument against Kennedy, Manjoo states that the lack of voter machines in key Democratic precincts was merely due to “incompetence”, rather than to “a GOP plot”. So at best, officials in Ohio are incompetent, and at worst they are corrupt. Somehow that doesn't seem like a situation worth defending.

What Manjoo failed utterly to prove was the obverse of Kennedy's thesis, that is, that the election in Ohio in 2004 was not stolen. He merely makes the case that Kennedy did not prove that it was. This is no small distinction. For anyone interested in more details on the Ohio 2004 election, you should read the book “Fooled Again”, by Mark Crispin Miller. He details additional facts not even brought up by Kennedy, including how overseas ballots were handled in the 2004 election.

Manjoo's conclusions are sharply refuted by Stephen H. Freeman, a political analyst who Kennedy relied on for his article.

Republicans in New Hampshire have already been convicted and sentenced for their role in phone jamming Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks in the 2002 election. Charles McGee, the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, admitted at trial - “I might think of an idea of disrupting those operations. Eventually the idea coalesced into disrupting their phone lines . . . [it's] military common sense that if you can't communicate, you can't plan and organize."

This is how the GOP operates when they try to win elections.

President Bush closed his news conference on November 4, 2004 by saying to the reporters present -“Listen, thank you all. I look forward to working with you. I've got a question for you. How many of you are going to be here for a second term? Please raise your hand.” (Laughter.)  “Good. Gosh, we're going to have a lot of fun, then. Thank you all.”

And so the second term press love affair with Bush began.

Dr John


 
  One Terrorist Down - How Many to Go?
June 8th, 2006


As the world contemplates the killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al- Zarqawi in Iraq, the question everyone is asking is, “Will this affect the war in Iraq?”

The final answer will no doubt await the unfolding of events in Iraq over the next year, or two, or...

But before anyone says anything else about this notable milestone in the Iraq war, they should read Sidney Blumenthal's article @ Salon.com on the behind-the-scenes move by George Bush Sr. to save his son's presidency by having Donald Rumsfeld replaced as Secretary of Defense with an unnamed, but competent four-star general. George Jr. came out swinging after an additional unprecedented rebuke from seven retired generals, who called for Rumsfeld's resignation in April. George Jr. declared, "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain."

Done deal.

I think almost everyone can agree at this point that the US strategy in Iraq requires rethinking. Most will also agree that substantial rethinking will not occur as long as Donald Rumsfeld is in charge of the Department of Defense. Bush cannot replace Rumsfeld without jeopardizing what remaining credibility the Iraq war has with the American people.

As might be expected, the sectarian and regional violence continues in Iraq after Zarqawi’s death, and there is further reason to suspect that it will continue indefinitely as long as the sectarian differences are not settled. Considering the current level of aggression between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq, it is logical to presume that the sectarian differences are very far from settled.

The generational Bush family strain is palpable. But unfortunately for the United States of America, the brash, inexperienced, petulant child just happens to be the decider.

Dr John


 
 

Are We Fighting For Freedom,
or Fascism?
June 5th, 2006

 


The Bush administration says we are fighting for freedom in Iraq. And when our troops fight overseas, the administration says we are fighting in the name of a democratic country to preserve hard-won freedoms here at home. One might suggest that such a notion rings somewhat hollow in light of the Bush administration's tendencies towards extreme secrecy, and eroding liberties and freedoms at home in the name of fighting terrorism.

But there is another sense in which this notion of fighting for freedom is trivialized by the Bush administration. By meeting secretly with industry officials behind closed doors to draw up legislation concerning policies that affect the very same industries, the Bush administration is sliding inexorably towards a type of neo-fascism. The military-industrial complex has never been more powerful in the United States than it is now, and taxpayer dollars have never flowed through those coffers to the extent that they are now flowing. It is a boom time for defense contractors ranging from Halliburton to Lockheed Martin to Raytheon.

Americans typically think of fascism as representing a police state, but that is not an accurate definition. Fascism is the seamless blending of government with big business to form a much more powerful entity than either could muster alone. Bush and Cheney have been doing that since they have been in office, starting with the so-called energy task force, and continuing through no-bid Halliburton contracts in Iraq and elsewhere, to the hundreds of billions of dollars of war profiteering at tax payer’s expense.

Huge tax cuts for corporations have in part fueled the unprecedented national debt that is now approaching $9 trillion. The corporations will most likely not have to pay back that debt, especially if they continue to get massive tax breaks in the future. Average, taxpaying citizens and their children and grandchildren will be paying that debt off for decades to come.

When corporations are in cahoots with the government, while simultaneously controlling most major media outlets, fascism is but a step away. Fascist states invariably become paranoid, and are known for spying on their citizens, and imprisoning them without trial, and even torturing prisoners - all things that would have been unheard of in the United States of America prior to the Bush administration.

So the question is, are our troops fighting in Iraq for freedom at home, or are they fighting for fascism? Time will tell.

Dr John


 
 
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