Thursday, May 13, 2004

Reaction to Prisoner Abuse

An email to a friend sent on 5/1/04; after the photos of the Iraqi prisoners were released

Dear A,

The horror...

The ... horror

"In this war, things get confused out there, power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity." Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes the Dark Side overcomes ... 'the better angels of our nature.' Therein, man has got a breaking point. You and I have. Walter Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane.

"Apocalypse Now"


eerie isn't it?

Racial Profiling

From a recent email to a friend sent 5/1/04 ...

Dear A,

I have an Arab-American friend who was recently in Prague. While there he set up his camera on a tripod in his hotel room to take some scenic photos out the window. He'd left it set up while out and the maid saw it. She reported it to the police or someone in Prague and they tracked my friend back to his home city here in the USA. Lo and behold this past Monday the local PD Joint Terrorism Task Force paid him a visit and asked him why he'd been taking photos of the American Embassy??!!

It turns out the embassy was in the camera's field of view. They came with a file on him with pictures of his father, a well known local business man. The family is originally from an Arab country having come to the states in the early seventies and are now naturalized American citizens.

They asked him if he contributes to any charities. He said he did, The United Way, The City of Hope and other mainstream charities. Then they asked him about Islamic charities and received a negative reply. It's shaken him up quite a bit as you can imagine but at the same time he's very calm about it as he has absolutely no cause for concern.

I've known this fellow for 30 years. This is what's known as profiling. A well dressed Arab-American staying in a luxury hotel innocently taking photos out his window ends up on a watch list. I hope it stops with this. I hope there isn't any more to it. The government can make someone's life a living hell regardless of guilt or innocence. If it were you or I would we be subject to the same questioning? Would anyone have bothered to report a middle aged European-American taking photos out the window?

To their credit, according to my friend, the police were somewhat sheepish and very polite. He invited them in, congratulated them on their vigilance and thanked them for their efforts in keeping us safe. Talk about grace under pressure.

What a trip!


The Truth Is Out There

The truth is out there – even in America, one just needs to do a bit of leg work to find it. But the desire has to be there and Joe Six-pack doesn’t seem to be very interested. He’s too busy watching WWF Smackdown and the Monster Truck Rally on ESPN.

But maybe his girlfriend Suzy Creamcheese is starting to pay a little bit of attention because Bush’s poll numbers are at an all time low. That might have something to do with the unprecedented attack on a female’s right to choose by the right wing Christian fundamentalists running this country. Let us hope the trend continues.

Ever heard of “The Rapture?” This is when the “true believers” are supposed to disappear off the face of the earth at the second coming. Leaving the “unbelievers” or what the Muslims call “infidels” left holding the bag. A fellow I know says “bring it on! Maybe then we’ll really be able to get something done.”



Monday, May 03, 2004

A new database of wild claims, prevarications, misstatements, misrepresentations, falsities, fictions, inveracities, untruths, and fibs.

Well folks, the exponential growth in dishonesty of the Bush administration and its fellow travelers is so difficult to track that the Center for American Progress has created a database for that very purpose. Hurrah! It’s the political equivalent of the Guinness Book of World Records. There for all to see and settle all those bar bets about WMD and Al-Qaida and Saddam.

Simply navigate to and click on the link entitled:
"Claim vs. Fact: Database Charts Conservatives' Dishonesty" right below John Ashcroft’s glowering mug.

Some of the whoppers such as Bush’s lie in the State of the Union Address that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa are very well known but there are many others which taken individually might seem to be honest mistakes. However, a tool like this enables one to look at the sheer mass of deception comprising the greatest propaganda effort in modern American history since Johnny Cochran sprung OJ.

Here are a couple of gems from the database.

Topic: Corporate Responsibility

Speaker: Bush, George - President

Date: 1/10/2002

"[Ken Lay] was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994...And that's when I first got to know Ken and worked with Ken."

"Texans for Public Justice, an Austin-based campaign finance reform organization, said Lay and Enron financially favored Bush in the 1994 election. The group said Richards received $12,500 from Enron sources during the 1994 election cycle. But contributions from Enron's political committee and executives totaled $146,500 for Bush, including $47,500 directly from Lay and his wife, Linda. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Enron and Lay have donated more than $550,000 to Bush since 1993, making the company his top career patron." - Houston Chronicle, 1/11/02 "Lay was co-chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention when it was held in Houston in 1992" - the same year George W. Bush "played an active role in his father's unsuccessful campaign for a second term." - AP, 1/12/03

Here’s another:

Topic: Economy - Jobs

Speaker: Bush, George - President

Date: 2/23/2004

"At home, obviously, the economy and jobs are on my mind. I know they're on yours, as well. I'm pleased that the economy is growing -- 5.6% unemployment is a good national number."

"There are the 8.7 million unemployed, defined as those without a job who are actively looking for work. But lurking behind that group are 4.9 million part-time workers who say they would rather be working full time — the highest number in a decade. There are also the 1.5 million people who want a job but didn't look for one" because the economy had become so bleak. "Add these three groups together and the jobless total for the U.S. hits 9.7%." Even the official unemployment rate is misleading. While "the unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent, that was because more people gave up looking for work." All told, the February 2004 drop "was wholly due to a contraction in the labor force, which declined by 309,000." As the New York Times noted, "compared with previous economic recoveries, job growth remains well below par." - LA Times, 12/29/03; Knight-Ridder, 1/10/04; EPI, 1/9/04; NY Times, 2/22/04


The fact is this administration has engaged in the most overt, aggressive propaganda campaign of any American Presidency in memory. That’s saying something because, LBJ, Nixon and Ronald Reagan were no slouches at verbal sleight of hand either. Remember: “the light at the end of the tunnel”, and “I am not a crook” and “... we will never negotiate with terrorists”?

They continue to tell us one thing while the facts say another. It’s an old propaganda tool (used by you know who); repeat the lie often enough and in the collective mind it becomes the truth. The American people were stampeded into a war based on falsehoods and fear mongering, using the horror of 9/11 and 3000 dead Americans to justify geopolitical ambitions that stretch back decades. It’s positively Orwellian. Double speak and double think at it’s finest.

WMD: “...we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”

9/11 and Iraq: "We learn more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s," Cheney said, "that it involved training, for example, on [biological and chemical weapons], that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems." But intelligence specialists told the (Boston) Globe last August (2003) that they have never confirmed that the training took place, or identified where it could have taken place. "The general public just doesn't have any independent way of weighing what is said," Cannistraro, the former CIA counterterrorism specialist, said. "If you repeat it enough times . . . then people become convinced it's the truth."

Tax cuts, “compassionate conservatism”, the “Clean Air Act,” “No Child Left Behind”, “the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit”, it goes on and on.


One thing that GWB has managed to put plainly before us is that he is a fundamentalist Christian. Last Thursday (April 29th, 2004) evening the PBS documentary series “Frontline” broadcast an episode entitled “The Jesus Factor” wherein portrayed is a messianic, zealot of a man committed to turning America away from being a pluralistic tolerant society where freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Constitution to a Christian fundamentalist society that tolerates no views or religion other than its own. We in this country have no problem with any religion as long as it’s kept separate from government and the believers don’t try to force it on the rest of society. Religion was and continues to be responsible for some of the worst horrors the world has ever known. Let’s not continue to repeat history by launching religious wars against the world and those who believe in a different path to heaven.

Here are some quotes from GWB: “God wants me to be President”, and while holding a Bible above his head said that there was a “higher law I follow than the Constitution of the United States” – didn’t he swear (on the Bible no less) to defend and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? He also said that if you aren’t a born again Christian that you will not go to heaven and called Billy Graham on the phone to back him up! I’m not making this stuff up. The information is out there. Is it any wonder that Muslims distrust our government? He has consistently pushed his religious views both through his domestic and foreign policy. Initially calling the Afghanistan war “Infinite Justice” and likening the then coming war in Iraq to a “Crusade”. A clash of civilizations surely exists in the mind of GWB and his fundamentalist Christian followers.

What’s the essential difference between a man of this fundamentalist zealotry in charge of the mightiest military machine in history and the fundamentalist Muslims that targeted the twin towers, or the fundamentalist Hindus that riot, rampage and kill Muslims in India, or the fundamentalist Muslims against the Hindus in Pakistan, the Taliban, fundamentalist Muslims targeting Jews, ultra-orthodox fundamentalist Jews that commit acts of terror against Arabs and consistently thwart reasonable peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians? Do we see a thread here?

Fundamentalism is not the solution it is *the* problem. The clash of civilizations coming in this world will be between the great majority of people who just want to get on with their lives, raise their kids with a minimum of fuss and bother (kids are enough fuss and bother in any case) and the fundamentalists that want to remake the world, by force if necessary, in their image therefore returning the world to some beatific time when their religion was the law of their land. In many places it still is. Called “Sharia” in the Muslim world, the Koran is the law of the land in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Do we want a fundamentalist Christian Sharia in the USA? No? Well, then let’s vote out of power those who would put this land under religious authority and never let them back in.

Thanks to the founding fathers this is America and we do have a Constitution, we are a nation of laws, where one person has one vote regardless of their religion and the Constitution requires the separation of church and state and minority rights are protected against a tyrannical majority. Yes, many of the founding fathers were religious and pious men. Not all, but many. Collectively they also had the wisdom to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and that which is God’s to God. The kings of Europe governed by divine right sanctioned by a state religion and they wanted no part of that for Americans.

The mullahs in Iran govern by divine right and the Saudi royal family claims divine sanction as well. GWB believes he’s president by divine providence. However, it’s one thing to believe that one has ascended to the highest office in the land with the help of one's creator and another to believe that you are sanctioned by God to lead a crusade against the “evildoers” and the “Axis of Evil” and, among many other things, appoint judges to follow fundamentalist tenets in their judicial rulings. What is this??? “The Lord of the Rings?” This is no fantasy world where sorcerers and knights, fair damsels, dwarves and hobbits vanquish the evil empire. This is the real McCoy.

So let’s use our votes to remove GWB from office. If he’s gotten away with this much in his first four years can you imagine the damage he will do if he’s given another four years? Without another election to face?

One more thing: our soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq but GWB doesn’t want the richest Americans to give up their tax cuts – huh?