Saturday, January 21, 2006

God Bless Molly Ivins

Thank God for Molly Ivins. It’s about time someone from the Democratic Party spoke the truth, as Ms. Ivins did in her recent column, about Hillary and other Democrats who seem willing to surrender their identity and credibility in a futile effort to appease Conservatives. Democrats like Senators Clinton and Biden roundly criticize the Bush administration and simultaneously do all in their power to emulate them. Lieberman no longer even pretends to uphold his party’s ideals and deserves to be voted out of office in Connecticut.

Ms. Ivins points to recent polls which clearly indicate the majority of Americans do not agree that the Iraq war is worth the cost, or that the economy has improved or that the Medicare reform helped anyone except the pharmaceutical industry. Yet, leading Democrats do not feel that they can oppose any of these policies lest they be maligned by Bush’s henchmen and jeopardize their re-election.

DUH! Every Democrats re-election is jeopardized as long as this administration remains in power. They do not feel bound either legally or ethically from using any ploy, deception or outright attack against opponents.

It gets worse. Republicans rule Congress so Democrats can’t even get them to investigate blatant violations of law. And in a true act of stupidity, Democrats look poised to confirm Alito to the Supreme Court ensuring no Republican sponsored laws will be found unconstitutional. And the whole process is being fed to the American public through a complicit corporate media willing to cover and even lie for their favorite politico, GW.

Please, start acting like Democrats. Oppose this illegal war. Demand investigations of the premeditated falsehoods that got us into war. Demand bush be impeached for warrant less wiretapping. Demand election and campaign reform that really achieves something by removing ALL corporate money and influence from the process.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pressed For News

Norman Solomon wrote in the Huffington Post that spying on the U.N. Security Council “had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack. The entire purpose of the NSA surveillance was to help the White House gain leverage, by whatever means possible, for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to green light an invasion. When that surveillance was exposed nearly three years ago, the mainstream U.S. media winked at Bush’s illegal use of the NSA for his Iraq invasion agenda.”

The plan to conduct espionage against certain member countries of the U.N. was the brain-child of top members of the Bush administration and was approved by then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Solomon continues: “Back then, after news of the NSA’s targeted spying at the United Nations broke in the British press, major U.S. media outlets gave it only perfunctory coverage -- or, in the case of the New York Times, no coverage at all.”

This story is a precursor of the news that the New York Times had withheld for over a year the story of President Bush’s approval to use the NSA to spy on American citizens without obtaining a warrant as required by the FISA law. Is this lack of reporting information that could be harmful to the administration merely a coincidence or is it revealing a trend? Consider some other stories that the Main Stream Media in the US have covered scantily or not at all.

The Downey Street Memo, written by a senior member of the British government who was in attendance at the meeting with top members of the US government, describes the Bush administration’s strategy to justify the invasion of Iraq by “fixing the facts around the strategy”. Although this item was the big story in the UK and headlined in other countries around the world, it was barely covered in the US.

WMD Lies by Judith Miller filled the pages of the NYT in the lead up to the Iraq war, published without question by her editors. Yet, they all turned out to be false as they were based on extremely questionable sources and shaded with the utmost in poor judgment.

Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government, The administration has drastically changed the rules on Freedom of Information Act requests and laws that restrict public access to federal records, mostly by expanding the national security classification, operates in secret under the Patriot Act and consistently refuses to provide information to Congress and the Government Accountability Office.

Distorted Election Coverage: Faulted study that caused most of the corporate media to dismiss the discrepancy between exit polls and the vote tally and missed the still-contentious question of whether the vote in Ohio needed closer examination.

U.S. illegally removes pages from Iraq U.N. report: Even as Bush urged military action against Iraq for the country's failure to divulge details of its alleged chemical, biological, and nuclear arsenal, the U.S. government covertly removed 8,000 of the 11,800 pages of the weapons declaration the Iraqi government had submitted to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Closing access to information technology: The Internet has functioned as the single most important medium for accessing these kinds of information. But if big communications companies get their way, the Web could be compromised as a democratic source of alternative news and perspectives. Soon, what we get from the Web could be a carbon copy of what we already get from corporate TV, cable, radio, and newspapers.

Sale of electoral politics: As much hope as electronic voting offers (ease of use, access for the disabled etc), it offers just as many reasons for skepticism and fear. A look behind the curtain reveals that the programmers and manufacturers of the machines are a combination of defense contractors and corporations headed by staunch Republicans whose programming codes are dangerously faulty and whose results are impossible to verify.

Secrets of Cheney's energy task force come to light: In 2001 the Task Force formulated the National Energy Policy (NEP), or Cheney Report, bypassing possibilities for energy independence and reduced oil consumption with a declaration of ambitions to establish new sources of oil. Via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2003, documents revealed the Task's Force interest in Iraqi oilfields as early as March 2001, pre-9/11.

Bush administration hampered FBI investigation of bin Laden family pre Sept. 11: Less than two months after Sept. 11, a Guardian reporter got hold of 1996 Federal Bureau of Investigation memos indicating the bureau suspected Abdullah bin Laden, brother of the most infamous terrorist in the world, of funding terrorist activity. Unfortunately, angry agents who spoke to the reporter told him the counterterrorism probe was scuttled by bureau honchos before it could even get off the ground.

Taken alone any of the stories above would be considered not just significant but, a major story with profound political ramifications. Or rather, it would have been ten years ago. In today’s world of issue free news, this unbelievable collection of near mortal attacks on democracy remain unheralded in the media even when it is inescapably evident that they all occurred in the current administration’s term. There is only one logical reason for the medias lack of interest in events such as those above. Not reporting them is in the best interest of the media’s own ideological agenda.

Nearly all of the media is corporately owned and is operated for profit. When the networks first developed news departments to keep the public informed, they were divisions of the networks that operated as non-profit entities. They were also an obligation the network/corporation had accepted to obtain a broadcast license. These laws and policies have been quietly changed over the years to allow for profit news and the definition of what public service they should provide became so distorted that Fox News is licensed by the FCC.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

First Things First

Why is Congress holding hearings on whether or not to confirm Justice Alito before they conduct investigations into the legality of the Bush administration’s eavesdropping on American citizens? For that matter, why is our government continuing in a “business as usual” manner instead of taking action on a possible felony committed by the President of the United States? There is no more urgent issue for the House and Senate than performing their sworn duties of protecting and defending the constitution and if, as it appears, this president has violated citizens rights and liberties protected by that document it is their duty to remove him from office.

Let’s take this a step further. Congress should propose legislation to withhold funding for the recent appointments made by Bush while they were recessed. They should additionally refuse to acknowledge these appointments as official and prevent the appointees from assuming their new positions until the investigation of Bush’s actions are complete.

If Congress holds hearings that result in the adoption of articles of impeachment against Bush and the impeachment proceedings succeed in removing him from office, the country will be saddled with the political appointments and a Supreme Court Justice placed in their positions by a felon.

Of course, this suggestion will drive conservatives up the wall with self righteous indignation and surely unleash a firestorm of criticism and accusations. So please consider the reasons this proposal is made:

• A majority of Americans believe the president has over-stepped his authority by ordering these wire taps and a great deal of legal experts have opined that this is a direct violation of the FISA law which is a felony and demands the impeachment of the President.

• Congress must investigate the citizen surveillance carried out by the NSA as ordered by the president because he openly and publicly admitted to this. Regardless of his claim that he advised Congress of this program, or that the Patriot Act gives him authority to carry out the surveillance, or that as Commander in Chief he has this right due to the concern for national security, spying on private American citizens has been and is presently illegal with monumental judicial precedent to back it up. President Nixon was forced to resign the presidency for exactly the same type of illegal activity and the same laws must apply to Bush.

• By acknowledging the unwarranted invasion of American citizens, Bush has in effect pleaded guilty to violating the law. Consequently, he has assumed a posture above the law, one neither restrained by its authority nor subject to its penalties. In other words, a Dictator.

• Bush’s assertion that he needed to circumvent the FISA court to expedite investigations is not tenable because of the 72 hour grace period allowed by the court in which to apply for and obtain a warrant. It is a logical conclusion then, to believe that Bush has avoided the FISA court because the target of surveillance was not an issue of national security, but one of political nature. Recall the corrupt Republican gambit of spying on the Democrats in Congress when they “accidentally” tapped into shared memory files on government computers. Also, that when an investigation was undertaken to determine how this could have happened a suspicious anthrax scare occurred in Sen. Frist’s office which prevented investigators from accessing the computer of Frist and his staff. No anthrax was ever found and the timing and probability of such an event has never been credible.

• It is now known that Bush authorized the NSA surveillance prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This totally repudiates his assertion that it was for national security purposes.

Conservatives would no doubt demand to know what gives me or anyone else the right to question our Commander in Chief and to make demands on Congress to impeach a sitting president. The authority behind my demands is the same each of us holds as citizens of this country. It is the authority invested in each patriot who defends the document this nation was founded upon which begins with the empowering phrase “We the People”. It is the constitutional authority and responsibility of every citizen to ensure we remain faithful to the spirit and wisdom embodied within the courageous words of our forefathers when they established a new government based on democracy, liberty and equality.

Each of the principals listed above is anathema to the Bush administration and they have gone to great lengths to eradicate them. If Congress will not take action to prevent this president from establishing a dictatorship then it must be done by the people of this nation who do not want to see over 200 years of democracy wiped out in the course of one president’s administration.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Clean House

It is not enough to impeach the president for his latest act of treachery against the constitution, not by a long shot. Americans must not be satisfied in simply removing George Bush from office, we must insist that he be tried for his criminal acts and incarcerated if found guilty so future presidents will be loathe to attempt similar crimes.

It would be ultimately fitting for this president's legacy to be the image of him being taken into custody and led off to jail. It would stand for the victory of Democracy over would be tyrants who attempt to corrupt our system of government and strengthen the resolve of those who believe in Democracy and stood by their principles throughout the past 5 year Neoconservative reign of terror.

Additionally, each Congressional Conservative that has come out in support of the president's decision to spy on Americans and have attempted to justify what is essentially an attack on the constitution, should be brought before Congress and censured for their subversive behavior.

This will seem severe to some and unwarranted to others, but consider the response of the Republicans to the manufactured assault against President Clinton. Many on the right took to the floor of Congress to make some of the most outrageous allegations and unfounded accusations against Clinton. Six years and $80 million of our taxes later, not one charge was ever substantiated or even found to be credible. This is because they were all the work of fanatical Neoconservatives and Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing Pittsburgh billionaire who funded the 1990s dirt-digging operation against the Clintons known as the Arkansas Project.

The Republicans must be held accountable for their party’s protection of this president over the past five years. Initially, it is understandable that Republicans were overly enthusiastic about gaining control of both the executive and legislative branches and some of their excesses can be attributed to that. Yet, as time progressed along with the administration’s abuses of power and privilege, this excuse lost its potency. Congress is obligated by oath to uphold the constitution and protect and defend the country. The Republicans in Congress opted for partisan and ideological goals in conflict with their duties. The American public needs to be informed of this and of how damaging their dereliction has been to our nation.

If the Democrats can take back either the House or the Senate in 2006 it will be possible to begin some long overdue investigations of this administration’s actions as well as the actions of many in Congress. This would be a good start but, not be as effective as regaining the White House and access to the documents and records the administration has refused to release in defiance of FOIA suits filed by many parties. I believe this to be crucial to any serious investigation of presidential, cabinet and Congressional misconduct and it is precisely for that reason I believe that Bush will be compelled to decree all such documents sealed for years to come. The American public must not stand for that or any other attempt to hide, obscure or destroy evidence that this administration broke laws, weakened democracy, defied the constitution, engaged in cover-ups, lied to the nation, authorized the illegal invasion of Iraq in defiance of international law, and caused the death and maiming of thousands of American soldiers for selfish purposes.