<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: September 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why are we still in Iraq?

A majority of Americans want us out of Iraq, and an even bigger majority of Iraqis want us out of Iraq. So why are we still in Iraq? Just so George W. Bush doesn't have to admit he was wrong?

From the Washington Post:

"A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.

"In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.

"Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends keep permanent military bases in the country."

As Tom Tomorrow says, "A country full of cut-and-run defeatocrats. Iraq, that is."


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

High testosterone = low intelligence?

This explains a lot about the behavior of some men. Researchers have found that too much testosterone can kill brain cells.

One of the researchers, Barbara Ehrlich (yes, a woman) of Yale University, says, "...when you have high levels of steroids, you have high testosterone and that can destroy the nerve cells. We know that when you lose brain cells you lose function."

Just to be fair, Ehrlich's team also tested the "female" hormone, estrogen. "We were surprised," Ehrlich says, "but it actually looks like estrogen is neuroprotective. If anything, there is less cell death in the presence of estrogen."

So an excess of testosterone kills brain cells, but estrogen keeps cells alive?

Women should be running the world.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

John McCain's special talent

McCain has the amazing ability to speak out of both sides of his mouth!

In response to Hugo Chavez's calling Bush "the devil," McCain said, "Look, it’s despicable and the United Nations should not be used as that kind of forum."

But when Jerry Falwell called Hillary Clinton "Lucifer," McCain said, "I think he was joking. I’m - from what I was told, he was laughing."

So it's okay to call someone "Lucifer" or "the devil" if you're laughing?

Or is it okay because Hillary Clinton is a Democrat?

Or is it because she's a woman?

All of the above?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Just how big is it?

What's with all the photos of men gesturing with their hands lately? Is it just a coincidence that nearly every photo published of a male politician exhibits Freudian body language?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bush: "My country desires peace"

Addressing Muslim leaders at the UN today, Bush said, "My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam."

Didn't Bush's mom ever tell him that actions speak louder than words?


Monday, September 18, 2006

Scarier than global warming: "Jesus Camp"

Think these Hitler Youth camps are funded by Bush's faith-biased initiative? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co1_9lR9EpM&eurl=

The Pope's "apology": just another slam

Pope Benedict XVI has finally responded to Muslim calls for an apology following his inflammatory remarks about Islam, but like so many other public figures' recent "apologies," the Pope's rang completely false. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address," he said. So he's sorry for the REACTIONS to his comments - not for the comments themselves. Which might be honest and truthful (hey, he is the Pope), but it's no apology.

Not satisfied with having just one foot in his mouth, the Pope blundered forth and inserted yet another: "These were in fact quotations from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought."

Again, the Pope is just being honest here: the quotations themselves - which expressed the dark side of ancient Islam - do not express his "personal thought." In fact, that was his original point - that the dark side of Islam runs counter to his own thinking.

So what is the Pope's "apology" really saying? "I stand by my original offensive remarks, and if you were offended that's your problem."

Let the holy wars begin!


Friday, September 15, 2006

It's us vs. the world

Does the U.S. have any friends left on Earth? Not only have we alienated most of our allies, but now 118 other nations - two-thirds of the world - officially despise us. They're all members of an organization called the Nonaligned Movement, which was formed during the Cold War as a neutral third path in a world polarized by the United States and the Soviet Union.

Cuba is one of those 118 nations, and acting President Raul Castro (Fidel's brother) spoke at this week's Nonaligned Movement summit. Among his comments:

"[The world today is shaped by the U.S.'s] irrational pretentions for world dominance."

"When there no longer is a Cold War, the United States spends one billion [sic] dollars a year in weapons and soldiers and it squanders a similar amount in commercial publicity."

"To think that a social and economic order that has proven unsustainable could be maintained by force is simply an absurd idea."

"With regard to international relations we are not the decisive force that we could be. The Nonaligned Movement now has to wage courageous battles against unilateralism, double standards, and the impunity granted to those in power, for a fairer and more equal international order."

Decisive force...wage courageous battles...sounds like a not-so-thinly veiled threat to us. And who can blame him? He's right about everything!

Speaking of threats, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also spoke at the summit. He said to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Iran is under threat; there are plans to invade Iran. Hopefully it won't happen, but we are with you. Under any scenario, we are with you just like we are with Cuba. If the United States invades Cuba, blood will run. ... We will not have our arms crossed while bombs are falling in Havana or they carry Raul off in a plane."

Chavez has vowed to cut off Venezuelan oil supplies to the U.S. if we invade Cuba; no telling what he will do if we invade Iran.

And speaking of Iran, President Ahmadinejad told the assembly that "Cuba's fight for liberation from imperialism has been a source of inspiration for the world's peoples."

Yet another unveiled threat.

The kicker: the U.S. declined an invitation to attend the summit, and said it would have no comment on the proceedings.

No comment, yeah - just missiles aimed toward Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

George Bush, visionary

CAUTION: Reader discretion advised. Contains quotes that may induce vomiting. The writers of this blog cannot be held accountable for any physical, mental, or emotional illness that may result from reading this entry.

As part of his recent efforts to legitimize his presidency and boost his approval ratings, President Bush invited a few select (right-wing) columnists to interview him in the Oval Office. NY Times columnist David Brooks was among them. Judging by his embarrassingly starry-eyed gushings, Brooks must have wet his pants before, during, and after the interview. Here are a few excerpts. Remember, you've been warned - you might want to grab a flight sickness bag.

"A leader's first job is to project authority, and George Bush certainly does that. In a 90-minute interview with a few columnists in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Bush swallowed up the room, crouching forward to energetically make a point or spreading his arms wide to illustrate the scope of his ideas - always projecting confidence and intensity.

* * *

"The other striking feature of his conversation is that he possesses an unusual perception of time. Washington, and modern life in general, encourages people to think in the short term. But Bush, who stands aloof, thinks in long durations.

"'I got into politics initially because I wanted to help change a culture,' he says, referring to his campaign against the instant gratifications of the 1960's counterculture. And he sees his efforts today as a series of long, gradual cultural transformations. Like many executives, he believes that the higher you go, the further into the future you should see, and so his conversation is filled with speculations about the long-term effects of deep social trends - the current religious awakening or the politics of volunteer armies.

* * *

"Sitting between busts of Lincoln and Churchill, he continued, 'My hope is to leave behind something - foundations and institutions that will enable future presidents to be able to more likely make the tough decisions that they're going to have to make.'

"'Ideological struggles take time,' he said, explaining the turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere. He said the events of weeks or months were just a nanosecond compared with the long course of this conflict. He was passionate on the need for patience and steadfastness. He talked about 'inviolate' principles written upon his heart: 'People want you to change. It's tactics that shift, but the strategic vision has not, and will not, shift.'

* * *

"In other words, when Bush is strategizing goals, he is assertiveness on stilts. When he is contemplating means, he defers to authority.

"And the sad truth is, there has been a gap between Bush's visions and the means his administration has devoted to realize them. And when tactics do not adjust to fit the strategy, then the strategy eventually gets diminished to fit the tactics."

No, Mr. Brooks, it isn't that his administration has failed to realize Bush's visions; it's that his visions were failures to begin with.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Paul O'Neill: "From the very first instance, it was about Iraq"

In a new book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reveals that President Bush began talking about attacking Iraq at least eight months before 9/11. "From the very beginning," O'Neill says, "there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go."

O'Neill says that says going after Saddam was topic "A" just 10 days after Bush's inauguration, in January of 2001. "From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed."

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a member of the National Security Council. He says in the book that he was surprised no one on the Council asked questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?"

"It was all about finding a way to do it," O'Neill says. "That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this.'"

We need to elect some people to Congress this November who aren't afraid to say, "Let's find a way to impeach George W. Bush."


(Thanks to EWD for the scoop.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cheney lies again

On Friday, September 8, the Senate Intelligence Committee on postwar findings about Iraq's links to terrorism stated: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

On Sunday, September 10, in an appearance on Meet the Press, Dick Cheney stated: "You've got Iraq and al Qaeda: testimony from the Director of CIA that there was, indeed, a relationship; Zarqawi in Baghdad, et cetera."

Well, at least he's consistent. But then, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).


Friday, September 08, 2006

"Eco-terrorists," or victims of warrantless wiretaps?

The government may have used warrantless wiretaps to investigate a group of environmentalists charged with committing more than a dozen acts of sabotage in Oregon and the West between 1996 and 2001.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken has asked federal prosecutors to respond to questions about surveillance and, as Lewis & Clark Law School professor John Parry says, "It's going to be embarrassing...for the government if they find out they've used warrantless surveillance."

The government has until Tuesday, September 12, to answer the questions, but they may simply refuse to respond, citing the "state secret privilege" - a tactic Judge Aiken may or may not buy.

If the government does admit that it used warrantless surveillance, the judge can choose to rule on whether the wiretaps, conducted with Bush's approval, violate Fourth Amendment guarantees to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

If the judge rules that federal investigators broke the law, then the resulting evidence could be excluded. Depending on how much evidence was gathered through the use of warrantless wiretaps or other electronic surveillance, prosecutors may have a hard time continuing their case. "The entire case could be thrown out," says Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, which has assisted in the defense.

The Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program was first revealed by the NY Times in December 2005. The paper reported that shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush gave the go-ahead for federal investigators to eavesdrop, without a warrant from a judge, on Americans' electronic communications with people overseas. The administration is adamant that it has the constitutional authority to snoop on international terrorists - and though the Eugene eco-sabotage case appears to be an entirely domestic matter, investigators have made a point of alleging that the environmental group, ELF, has international connections.

The defendants haven't actually been charged with terrorism, but court documents repeatedly refer to the crimes as acts of terrorism, and federal prosecutors have sought sentence "enhancements" usually reserved for offenses involving terrorism.

So why include eco-saboteurs under the banner of terrorism? For one, it may be easier to bag an "eco-terrorist" than a member of an al Qaeda cell. And as the definition of "terror" grows, the zeal to guard against it may spread to other crimes.

As Parry says, "If you can do [warrantless surveillance] for these guys, who can't you do it for? If this is part of the war on terror, then I think this is a much broader war than anyone ever imagined."

Read more at http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3243/7938

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are we staying the course or aren't we?

"The President is determined to stay the course."
- White House Spokesman Tony Snow, 8/16/06

"The idea that somehow we're staying the course is just wrong. It is absolutely wrong."
- White House Spokesman Tony Snow, 9/5/06

So what, exactly, are we doing, Mr. Snowjob?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ABC miniseries blames Clinton for 9/11

Next week is the five-year anniversary of 9/11, and ABC is marking the occasion with a miniseries called "The Path to 9/11." Promos for the movie say it's "based on the 9/11 Commission Report," but it's an inaccurate and deeply biased account that blames President Clinton for 9/11 while whitewashing the Bush administration's approach to terrorism.

A key scene in "The Path to 9/11" involves President Clinton's national security adviser Samuel Berger, "who freezes in dithering apprehension" when a CIA agent radios in from Afghanistan to say that he and a group of local tribesmen "have Osama bin Laden within sight." The CIA character "begs for the green light to capture or kill the al Qaeda chieftain, but the line goes dead, suggesting that Berger and his colleagues, including Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, frozen in indecision, had hung up on the CIA man." According to Richard Clarke - former counterterrorism czar under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC - this depiction is "utterly invented" and "180 degrees from what happened." In a statement posted on ThinkProgress, Clarke stated that there were no U.S. military or CIA personnel on the ground in Afghanistan who ever saw bin Laden, and that contrary to the movie, "the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it." In fact, as 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste pointed out yesterday, the commission actually found that President Clinton had given the green light to every "operation that had been cleared by the C.I.A. to kill bin Laden." In other words, ABC invented from whole cloth a scene which makes the incendiary claim that the Clinton administration passed on a surefire chance to kill or catch bin Laden.

There are other falsehoods and misrepresentations in "The Path to 9/11." In one scene, a CIA character complains that "ever since the Washington Post disclosed that we intercepted his calls, [Osama bin Laden] stopped using phones altogether." In fact, the 9/11 Commission found that the Washington Times - "the capital’s unabashedly conservative newspaper" - actually published the story about bin Laden's phone, not the Washington Post. More importantly, that story has since been discredited, though it is still cited by conservative politicians and pundits (including President Bush) "seeking to impose greater restrictions on the news media." The heavy political slant in "The Path to 9/11" is also clear from the reviews. Rush Limbaugh cheerily relayed that "the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration in doing anything about militant Islamofascism or terrorism during its administration." A Salon.com review found the film portrayed the Bush administration in a strongly positive light, while painting Clinton “as a buffoon more interested in blow jobs than terrorists.”

The writer of "The Path to 9/11" is an unabashed conservative named Cyrus Nowrasteh. Last year, Nowrasteh spoke on a panel titled, “Rebels With a Cause: How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood’s Next Paradigm Shift.” He has described Michael Moore as “an out-of-control socialist weasel,” and conducted interviews with right-wing Web sites like FrontPageMag. Though he claims the film is an "objective" historical presentation, Nowrasteh also said it shows how Clinton had “frequent opportunities…in the 90s to stop Bin Laden in his tracks - but lacked the will to do so.” He has referenced Clinton’s “lack of response” to Al Qaeda “and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests.”

Complaints about the film began last week and "only grew louder over the Labor Day weekend, filling a blog site that ABC had set up as a forum for debate," CQ reported. "On Sunday ABC pulled down the blog without explanation, and then re-established it Tuesday, also without explanation." Also yesterday, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) called on ABC to "come clean" about the miniseries and run a disclaimer stating that it "does not represent an official account of the facts surrounding the September 11th attacks." ABC released a statement saying that the miniseries was “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources," and said it "planned to run a disclaimer with the broadcast, reminding viewers that the movie was not a documentary." But major problems remain. For instance, ABC is sending letters to 100,000 high school teachers urging them to tell their students how they can view the program. Most American high school students weren’t even teenagers when the 9/11 attacks occured - now ABC is trying to present those students with its slanted and inaccurate version of history.

This is wrong, and you can fight back. Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11, by signing the letter at http://thinkprogress.org/tellabc.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why Karl Rove is homophobic

James Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain" and a new book, "The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power," has revealed the reason why Rove is homophobic: Rove’s stepfather was gay.

Moore says that in 1969, when Karl was a senior in high school, his stepfather, Louis Rove, informed Karl’s mother that he was gay, was coming out of the closet, and wanted a divorce. Louis had landed a job in Los Angeles and the whole family was supposed to move there with him at the end of the year, but instead, Louis moved there by himself.

“After he retired from his job in LA,” Moore says, “Louis moved to Palm Springs and befriended other retired gay men. He drank and socialized at the Rainbow Cactus and the Martini Burger and became part of a group of gay men who referred to themselves as ‘The Old Farts Club.’”

Moore suggests that Karl Rove’s homophobia may be a product of repression and self-loathing, or that Rove has a desire to get back at his father for leaving his mother when he “chose” to be gay. It’s also possible, Moore says, that "Rove is fighting his own homoerotic impulses," which are evident in his description of George Bush when he first met him:

"I can literally remember what he was wearing: an Air National Guard flight jacket, cowboy boots, complete with the - in Texas you see it a lot - one of the back pockets will have a circle worn in the pocket from where you carry your tin of snuff, your tin of tobacco. He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have."

It should be nobody’s business but Rove’s what his sexual hangups and preferences are, but as Moore says, Rove is driving an agenda that is “making life even more difficult for millions of Americans dealing with their sexuality. They are being discriminated against for the way they were born in the same manner as were African-Americans when their rights were also disputed by conservatives.” And that's what makes Rove’s personal life a public affair: he promotes policies that invade the privacy of gay and lesbian Americans while covering up his own background.

It’s time for Rove’s hypocrisy to come out of the closet.


Friday, September 01, 2006

"Flat Daddy" cutouts take place of real National Guard soldiers

We're not sure whether to laugh, cry, or get angry. Maybe all three. The National Guard is providing cardboard “Flat Daddy” cutouts to families of faraway soldiers, as a sort of...replacement for the actual daddy. At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta, Maine. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.

Flat Daddies and Mommies ride in the car, sit at the dinner table...even lie in bed with spouses or children.


As Bob Harris says, "I guess if the families are getting some solace out of it, whatever. But it just seems so damn sad. Things are so bad that people are actually thrilled to have cardboard replicas of their family members."

What's next? Anatomically correct - and functioning - Flat Daddies and Mommies?