Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cheney - Emminence Grise

As the Emminence Grise of the Bush Administration, Cheney obviously has a lot to hide and, like a playground bully, will say and do anything necessary to get his way - in this case, to avoid revealing what he's been up to behind the scenes for the past at least 4 years. Funny that his office stopped reporting under the rules around 2003, just when the Bush propaganda machine got under way to invent the evidence to justify an invasion of Iraq. Cheney is spitting in the eyes of Congress and the American people. If he feels he is above the law -- a position that he clearly holds -- then he needs to be impeached. Among the many justifications for impeachement that he already merits, refusing to submit to Congressional oversight is juts one more, but it's a big one! Surely our Congress is not so ethically inert as to fail to do its job in this case?

[As submitted to Washington Post blog in re an article entitled "White House Defends Cheney's Refusal of Oversight"]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stem cell irony

In what I think should be known as the Irony Administration, President Bush continues to make decisions which, we are told, are an indication of his "principles" and his "conscience." Thus, today, when he vetoed stem cell legislation that would have earmarked federal funds for stem cell research, his press secretary, Tony Snow, said

"The president does not believe it's appropriate to put an end to human life for research purposes," Snow said. "That's a line he will not cross."

Putting an end to life by denying possible treatments for dread diseases to those suffering from them is perfectly OK apparently. As is his stance against abortion, which condemns tens of thousands of children to be born into families ill-equipped to care for them.

If there is a logic in holding the existence of undeveloped life as more important than the lives of living, developed human beings, I can't imagine what it would be. From an ethical standpoint, it makes no sense. The only source of authority for the President's viewpoint is the rigid pronouncements of Catholic and fundamentalist Christian groups -- pronouncements which fly in the face of common sense as well as common decency. Furthermore, using those religious beliefs as a basis for government policy dec isions is blatantly unconstitutional.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Supporting our troops - the reality

In a 6/16/07 article, "Mental health system ill equipped for PTSD," the Washington Post documents the unsupportive, unresponsive, mismanaged "system" in place for helping returning veterans deal with post raumatic stress syndrome. This is not the first article -- nor will it be the last -- on the failure of the military establishment in general and the VA mental health system in particular to provide appropriate services to our returning troops when they suffer the disabilities caused by their participation in the wars in the Middle East.

This situation is a disgrace and one whose irony, I would hope, would penetrate the thick skulls of the "support our troops" crowd. Those are the folks who think George Bush (whose own military record is spotty at best) is a patriot and a war hero because he started the war in Iraq. These are the people who have kidded themselves that the war in Iraq is justified and even successful, while the preponderance of evidence is that it is neither. These are the people who have villified those calling for an end to the war. These are people who cloak themselves in the flag and the Constitution, while failing to exercise the most basic responsibility of a citizen -- the responsibility to think and to question. These are the people who have enabled one of the most corrupt and immoral US public enterprises in my lifetime.

Every time I see one of their cars with a yellow ribbon on it, I want to vomit.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Call Bush's bluff

Today, speaking of a no-confidence vote called in Congress with regard to Atorney General Gonzales, President Bush said that "They can have their votes of no-confidence but it's not going to make the determination about who serves in my government."

I would say it's time Congress called the President's bluff; Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to impeach and it can be used against the President, the Vice President, cabinet members, or anyone else in the government who meets the standards for mis-conduct in office.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

History's judgement

Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice is quoted by AP as having said, in reference to the legacy of George Bush, "History's judgment is rarely the same as today's headlines." and to further claim that the world is a better place today as a result of Bush's actions.

Presidents who have passed into history have -- until now -- been good for wise quotes at the very least and, in virtually all cases, for at least some positive accomplishment in terms of making the world a better place. What will Bush contribute? He can neither write nor speak a coherent thought. And his legacy of action -- Rice's nonsense notwithstanding -- contains little if anything to be proud of. He has continued Reagan's "voodoo economics," lowering taxes and increasing defense spending, and therby producing the worst budget deficit to date. And, unlike predecessors, who financed their wars mostly out of available funds and out of sacrifices current at he time of the war, Bush is paying for the Iraq war with credit cards and deferring the hard sacrificies until he is out of office. How will history view him when those credit card bills come due at interest rates that will likely be double or triple current rates?

How will history view "extraordinary rendition," whereby individuals are kidnapped off the street and flown to secret prisions around the world, there to become un-persons, possibly never to be heard from again? How will history treat Guantanamo, where people are warehoused without due process for months or years, denied access to lawyers, denied the right to be heard in a court of law? How will history view the Gonzales Justice Department and claims that torture isn't really torture? Or that domestic surveillance is OK? How will history view the President's obstruction of medical research that could potentially lead to cures for diseases from altzheimers to cancer? Or promoting religious fundamentalism at home while denouncing it abroad? Or claiming to support education while simultaneously defunding it? Or promising a prescription drug plan for seniors on one hand, while actually delivering a monopoly lock on drug sales to the US pharmaceutical industry? Not to mention lying to start a war that has no point and has produced nothing but misery. Or punishing an ambassador for speaking out against the war by outing his CIA wife -- an action which, if carried out by an ordinary citizen, would be viewed as treason.

How will history view his legacy as the first president in my lifetime who has not tried to do something to facilitate a solution to the Israel/Palestine troubles? Unless you count the Iraq war as "something." Or US support of Israel's punishing bombardment of Lebanon last summer. But constructive dialog that doesn't blindly take the side of Israel over that of everyone else? Not this President!

How will historians -- many of whom are not Americans -- view Bush's contempt for other nations and for their right to challenge America as the sole arbiter of what is right?

I have no doubt that Bush has earned his place in the history books. But I doubt that it will be alongside Jefferson or Lincoln. More likely in a special volume on third-rate fascists. If history does view him favorably, then we can assume that he has been successful in delivering us all into a very dark future.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Rice on Cuba - more hypocrisy

In a Reuters article this morning, Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice is reported to have started her visit of "conciliation" to Spain by criticizing the Spanish for their policy of engagement toward Cuba. She said,

“Democratic states have an obligation to act democratically, meaning to support opposition in Cuba, not to give the regime the idea that they can transition from one dictatorship to another,”

This is yet another stunning example of the hypocrisy that characterize the vile Bush administration. What does Rice think "acting democratically means? Supporting Castro's mafia-controlled predecessor, Batista?! Isolating Cuba for nearly 5 decades in hopes of destroying its economy and its people?!

How can she even dare to speak about democracy as a member of an administration that has lied to mount an invasion of a sovereign country, willfully and repeatedly violated the rights of prisoners of war, conducted illegal domestic surveillance of ordinary American citizens, and which is busy trying to eviscerate an independent judiciary in the United States!?

We are already the laughing stock of Europe - does she think that this kind of idiocy is going to impress the Spanish?

Support the troops - blah blah

Not surpirisngly, given their gutless behavior to date, Congress and many congressional Democrats gave Bush what he demanded -- more money for his war in Iraq with no strings attached. The most unpopular president in my lifetime and congressional Democrats couldn't stand up to him! What a sorry situation! Received wisdom is that Democrats didn't want to be perceived as not "supporting the troops" and, rather than challenging the validity of the entire "support the troops" fiction, Democrats, as usual, worried more about their image than about doing what's right.

You have to hand it to the propaganda machine of the right - they sure do know how to turn a moronic phrase into a powerful tool for enforcing obedience to their agenda. In the runup to our war against Iraq, Bush and his thugs had to juggle a lot of complicated problems in order to ensure the war went forward: they had to lie about Saddam Hussein's intentions and his non-relationship with Al Qaeda; they had to fire or retire military personnel who objected to the war; they had to marginalize dissenters in the civilian population as un-patriotic; they had to make a show of consulting the UN about Iraq; they had to cook up a charge of possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and then insist on Iraq proving the un-proveable. And so on - lots of hard work, any of which might have ended in a stalemate for Bush. (Of course, with the help of the popular press -- who were almost visibly salivating at the prospect of covering a new war -- it was probably a slam dunk). But, once the war started, all that has been necessary to keep Americans onboard for 4 years has been a constant repetition of the "support our troops" mantra. And this in spite of the fact that every dire prediction about the war and its consequences has come true!

When the "support our troops" ribbons began appearing on SUV tailgates all over the place about 10 minutes after the war started, I got a queasy feeling. My queasiness turned into a permanent state of nausea as voices of reason throughout the country were shouted down using the simple claim that, if you did not believe in and support the war, you weren't supporting the troops. Michael Moore, Dixie Chicks, Cindy Sheehan, military strategists , writers, historians, journalists, ordinary citizens -- it doesn't matter who you are or how much you know -- you can be neutralized with the "support your troops" neutralizing spray. (Just use as often as needed - watch that dissent disappear!)

In my lifetime at least, Americans have had a strange relationship with their military: one one hand, we revere them, probably as a result of WWII, through which the USA became a world power. Then, on the other, we repeatedly send them off to fight endless, undeclared wars, whose purposes are murky and which never seem to be winnable. And, when they come back home, they are honored with unemployment, national feelings of guilt, and a medical and social support system that leaves them feeling cheated and unvalued.

But in between, we are supposed to keep our mouths shut and "suuport" them. By not objecting to the war before it begins. By not criticizing it once it has started. A nice recipe for a non-participatory democracy.