Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bush silences a key witness

And you thought that the new Sec'y of Defense Robert Gates trip to Iraq was a "fact-finding" expedition designed so that he could contribute to the current Cheney/Bush pretense of discussions about where to go from here in Iraq.

Since former Bush family consigliere James Baker has become a thorn in the side of the current generation, they sent Gates to Iraq to assure that the execution of Saddam Hussein would take place with dispatch. What was the rush to execute him? You might ask. try this for an explanation:

From ConsortiumNews

"Like a blue-blood version of a Mob family with global reach, the Bushes have eliminated one more key witness to the important historical events that led the U.S. military into a bloody stalemate in Iraq and pushed the Middle East to the brink of calamity."

"...Bush has done his family's legacy a great service while also protecting secrets that could have embarrassed other senior U.S. government officials.

"He has silenced a unique witness to crucial chapters of the secret history that stretched from Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979 to the alleged American-Saudi "green light" for Hussein to attack Iran in 1980, through the eight years of the Iran-Iraq War during which high-ranking U.S. intermediaries, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, allegedly helped broker supplies of war materiel for Hussein."

Sadaam Hussein's execution:

Herman Goering on manipulating the people into war against their will

at the Nuremberg trials

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering was Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia and Hitler's designated successor, the second man in the Third Reich.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rush Limbaugh does it again: Michael J. Fox's disease is a liberal plot

U.S. Senator-elect Claire McCaskel (D-MO)
Thanks Rush. You did it again.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-MT., secret plan

In 1972 Richard Nixon had a secret plan to end the war against Vietnam. In 2006 Burns and Bush have a secret plan to end the war against Iraq.

I guess that's the plan Bush is going to reveal after the new year.

(From Daniel Kurtzman, Political Humor)

On December 6, 2006, Burns rose and spoke these words:

"Mr. President, I appreciate the words of my friend from Florida. As I rise today and say my farewell to this body [the Senate].

Rush Limbaugh doing what he does best: Misinforming his audience

"Black" candidate Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
and his family

"And don't forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There's a racial component here, too. And now, the newspaper that I'm reading all this from is The New York Times, and they, of course, don't mention that." --Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, on the Ohio Senate primary race.

(From Daniel Kurtzman, Political Humor)

Words of wisdom from Katherine Harris

Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla.,
with the Bush boys at MacDill
Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.,
on May 10, 2006.

"God is the one who chooses our rulers." --Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), explaining why the separation of church and state is "a lie." Harris also said, "If you are not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

(From Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Iraq: It's time to let go (video)

Iraqis are people too. When we kill them we are destroying what's best in ourselves. If you make any New Year's resolutions, resolve to end this war now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The dark side of Gerald Ford: The Indonesian genocide in East Timor

The death yesterday of Gerald Ford has provoked a debate over his (and his Sec'y of State the ubiquitous Henry Kissinger) relation to the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which killed approximately 1/3 of the Timorese. The almost always reliable Juan Cole in his generally hagiographic post "Ford and Foreign policy" says about the late president:

"Ford did the country the enormous favor of allowing it to transition out of the poisonous Nixon and Vietnam eras, with a gentleman at the helm of state. I can remember the enormous relief I experienced when I saw the picture of him striding confidently once he had become president. Many of us had been afraid Nixon would stage a military coup. Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, I have been told by one interviewee then in government, shared that fear and ordered the senior officers to accept no command directly from Nixon unless they checked with Schlesinger first.

"Ford was clearly unwilling to risk further military entanglements in Asia. The one exception was his aggressive response to the Cambodian capture of the Mayaguez...."

In his comment on Cole's Ford obituary post Juhani Yli-Vakkuri said...

"I think any post with heading 'Ford and Foreign Policy' should mention that this 'gentleman at the helm' of the U.S. ship of state authorized Suharto's Indonesia's genocidal invasion and annexation of East Timor in December 1975. To quote from Joseph Nevins' excellent recent book, A Not-So Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor (Cornell University Press, 2005):

'President Gerald Ford and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, met with Suharto in Jakarta the day prior to the invasion. They were fully cognizant of Indonesia's plans to invade. According to the transcript of the meeting, Ford assured Suharto that, with regard to East Timor, "[We] will not press you on the issue. We understand ... the intentions you have."

A State Department document released in 2001 "shows that Suharto began the invasion knowing that he had the full approval of the White House."

On Democracy Now yesterday (Wed.) morning Amy Goodman interviewed Brad Simpson who Said:

"In July of 1975, the National Security Council first informed Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford of IndonesiaÂ’s plans to take over East Timor by force. And Suharto of course raised this with Gerald Ford in July when he met with Gerald Ford at Camp David on a trip to the United States. And then in December of 1975 on a trip through Southeast Asia, Gerald Ford met again with Suharto on the eve of the invasion, more than two weeks after the National Security Council, CIA, other intelligence agencies had concluded that an Indonesian invasion was eminent. And that the only thing delaying the invasion was the fear that US disapproval might lead to a cut-off of weapons and military supplies to the regime.

"AMY GOODMAN: How knowledgeable was President Ford at the time of the situation?

"BRAD SIMPSON: Well, Ford was very much aware. He was receiving hourly briefings, as was Henry Kissinger, as his plane lifted off from Indonesia, as the invasion indeed commenced. And immediately afterwards Gerald Ford flew to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, or to Guam—excuse me, where he gave a speech saying that never again should the United States allow another nation to strike in the middle of the night, to attack another defenseless nation. This was on Pearl Harbor Day, of course. Realizing full well that another day of infamy was unfolding in Dili, East Timor. As thousands of Indonesian paratroopers, trained by the United States, using US supplied weapons, indeed jumping from United States supplied airplanes, were descending upon the capital city of Dili and massacring literally thousands of people in the hours and days after December 7, 1975."

It is entirely possible to argue that the imperial presidency - brought to full flower by George W. Bush (under the aegis of Dick Cheney) - was "saved" by Ford after the "national nightmare" of the Nixon years.

Also on Amy Goodman's special Democracy Now devoted to correcting the generally rose colored history of the Ford administration Veteran Investigative Journalist Robert Parry said:

"So I think while Ford gets a great deal of credit, because he helped mend the nation's wounds over Watergate, it wasn't entirely this pleasant experience that some people are making it out to be. It was, in a sense, the incubator for the resurgence of the Imperial Presidency. People like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney [and Paul Wolfowitz] were in the Ford White House, and many of their feelings about re-establishing that Imperial Presidency have lived to this day."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

John Mohawk Indian activist and scholar dies

Indigenous Prophecies
by John Mohawk

John Mohawk, a leading scholar and spokesperson for the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy died in Buffalo, New York, December 12th.

On Tuesday Dec. 17 Amy Goodman noted John Mohawk's life and death on Democracy Now. Since then I have been searching the corporate owned press for any mention of John Mohawk's death. I have found none. Activists and scholars of color often get short shrift when it comes to acknowledging their achievements. Here's what Amy Goodman said:

Mohawk was a leading advocate for the rights of indigenous people worldwide. He served as director of Indigenous Studies at the Center for the Americas at the State University of New York, Buffalo. Mohawk was also director of the Iroquois White Corn Project, which promoted and sold Iroquois white corn products and foods and supported contemporary indigenous farmers. John Mohawk was a columnist at Indian Country Today, and his last book was Utopian Legacies: A History of Conquest & Oppression in the Western World.

John Mohawk spoke last month in New York at the "Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization: a Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures." The teach-in was sponsored by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation.

John Mohawk began by talking about the Spanish conquest of the Americas and ended by discussing the domination of indigenous people in the United States. (more)

Stop funding the war (video)

From PDAmerica

Friday, December 22, 2006

"The road to victory in Iraq is paved with the Gospel of Jesus"

Yesterday I noted that Va. Rep. Virgil Goode called for an end to Muslim immigration in order not to have any more Muslims elected to Congress and asking to take the oath of office on the Koran.

Today we have a new congressional outrage to report:

According to BlueNC, N.C. Rep. Robin Hayes says that victory in Iraq depends on "spreading the message of Jesus."

Rep. Hayes in duck blind

"Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior."

No doubt, Rep. Hayes, spreading the Gospel of Jesus at the point of a gun in an Islamic nation will win us many friends in the Middle East. Where do these congressmembers come from? Is there no end to the depth of their ignorance?

Isn't the real problem that Bush agrees with his outrageous Republican brethren?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The demonization of the enemy: Muslims and Iraqis

There were probably as many reasons for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as there were cooks to spoil the broth. Just a few of these were oil, Israel, the enrichment of a few favored (by the Cheney/Bush administration) U.S. corporations and by no means least, the 2004 presidential election. Had there been no invasion, it would very likely be President Kerry today.

I will come back to these explanations in a upcoming post. But today I want to talk about a fundamental necessity for the "justification" of any war: the demonization of the enemy. Remember the "weapons of mass destruction." Without that PR ploy the invasion would have been far less easy to sell. But with the congressional and media puppet brigades it might not have been impossible.

Now that there is a push for a new invasion (referred to by politicians and the media as a "surge."), the enemy has to be demonized again - in case we have forgotten how dangerous they are.

Amy Goodman reported this morning (Wed.) on Democracy Now that

"...a Republican Congress- member is under fire for saying he fears an influx of Muslim immigration in the United States. In a letter sent to constituents this month, the Congressmember, Virgil Goode of Virginia, writes: 'I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States' if we do not adopt 'strict immigration policies.' Goode also warns over the recent election of Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress. Goode writes '...If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.'"

The extremely dangerous abandonment of any concept of religious freedom that once led a group of colonists to abandon England and set up shop here should be obvious in Goode's remarks. And I would assume that he will soon propose that we wrap the Statue of Liberty - which he clearly abhors - and send it back to France, because we obviously can no longer live up to its invitation to the world's "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Clearly those like Goode no longer want "...these, the homeless, tempest-tost [sent]to me."

But in this new era of the Bush surge in Iraq, Goode isn't the only demonizer. USA Today & N.Y. Post columnist Ralph Peters trumps Goode. In pre-election November he wrote:

"...for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.

"For us, Iraq's impending failure is an embarrassment. For the Iraqis — and other Arabs — it's a disaster the dimensions of which they do not yet comprehend. They're gleeful at the prospect of America's humiliation. But it's their tragedy, not ours.

"Iraq was the Arab world's last chance to board the train to modernity, to give the region a future, not just a bitter past. The violence staining Baghdad's streets with gore isn't only a symptom of the Iraqi government's incompetence, but of the comprehensive inability of the Arab world to progress in any sphere of organized human endeavor. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization. All those who rooted for Iraq to fail are going to be chastened by what follows.

"Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.

"And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that. Iraq was never our Vietnam. It's al-Qaeda's Vietnam. They're the ones who can't leave and who can't win."

But Goode and Peters are only the tip of the demonization iceberg. Neo liberal Peter Beinert posted on the the New Republic online onDec. 11:

"Across ideological lines, American politicians and pundits are finally coming to a consensus on Iraq: It's the Iraqis' fault. 'We gave the Iraqis their freedom,' pronounced liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer on November 16. 'What are they doing with this freedom? They're killing each other.' The next day, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer heartily concurred, writing: 'We have given the Iraqis a republic, and they do not appear able to keep it.'"

There is much more to be said on this question of demonization (and I will come back to it) but for the moment suffice it to say that since the reinvasion ("surge") of Iraq will require a much more heavy handed occupation - no more making believe the Iraqis are in charge of their own nation. Here are just a few of the suggestions Peters makes in his 12/18 N.Y. Post column:

"* Temporary movement restrictions, with passes required for any person desiring to leave his neighborhood and enter another. Identify who belongs where.

"* Simultaneous crackdowns on Shia militia and Sunni insurgent strongholds. Establish the principle that we go where we want, when we want - and stay as long as we want.

"* Thorough searches of every building in Baghdad. No safe havens - not even mosques (trusted Iraqis can help). Structures used as weapons-storage facilities or safe houses for armed factions to be leveled.

"* Disarmament of all private security elements in Baghdad not vetted by U.S. authorities. Foreign security contractors subject to Iraqi law."

In other words, no more nice guy for us. Once we have demonized and infantalized the Iraqis (and more broadly Muslims) we can move in and take over.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

George Stephanopolous interviews Harry Reid

George Stephanopolous talks to Sen. Harry Reid on ThisWeek.

Pay particular attention to the discussion of sending more troops to Iraq.

Here we go again. Is this payment to buy the allegiance of right-wing independent sen. Joe Lieberman and his ilk within the Democratic party?

"The Senate's top Democrat offered qualified support Sunday for a plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, saying it would be acceptable as part of a broader strategy to bring combat forces home by 2008."

And as Stephanopolous asks Reid, "What guarantee is there that the troops will come home in '08? No matter what he has to agree to, to get the increase in troops over there, will the administration live up to these promises."

Who'd have ever thought Time's "Person of the Year" would be ME? My mom would have been so proud.

Time magazine's
"Person of the Year" cover
(Dec.25, 2006 issue)

Clearly it's possible on many levels to disagree with Time's choice of "me" as "person of the Year." Here's Time's rationale for their decision.

"To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the bomb, and the president of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

"But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men [sic]. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

"The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution."

Although I'm not sure that "it's really a revolution," the web users is a very interesting choice. It seems to me that, although the potential is there, at this point web users - especially in politics - have had a far more negative than positive effect. It much easier to attack someone and knock them off their perch (Dan Rather, for example) than to build someone or something up and actually make positive change.

Time also selected 27 people (or pairs and groups) who they think "made a difference."
International figures such as, the Iraqi people and Muqtada al-Sadir, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuba's Raul Castro, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Germany's Angela Merkel, Korea's Kim Jung IL, and Pope Benedict XVI. (Why not, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah and Israel's Ehud olmert or Chile's Michelle Bachelet?)

From the U.S. political scene, obviously the "Three Stooges" [my label] Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, the Democrats' "Gang of Four" [Time's label] the leaders Nancy Pelosi and Reid and the managers, Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel, Al Gore, the Iraq Study Group, John Murtha, Condoleeza Rice (what has she done?), Superpastor Ted Haggard, chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rep. Mark Foley and Jack Abramoff (all three of whom probably had more effect on the Democrat's victory than anyone in the party). But given Time's ultimate choice, what about Connecticut's Sen. Joe Lieberman and netroots supported challenger Ned Lamont?

Obviously show biz contributed its "difference" makers: Katie Curic (no Dan Rather? Curic would still be getting up every morning if it weren't for him), Stephen Colbert (I think Democracy Now's Amy Goodman or even Countdown's Keith Olberman has made more difference, Colbert is just an extended Daily Show [or SNL] sketch), Michael J. Fox, the cast of TV's Heroes, oddball Brit comic Sacha Baron Cohen (He made alot of money, but difference?) and from sports Roger Federer and Tiger Woods (What difference have they made?). From business the Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwartzman and Bill Ford and the grain farmer. And let us not forget Pluto, who was demoted.

Perhaps the most interesting choice is Mexican citizen Elvira Arellano, the undocumented worker who took refuge in a Chicago storefront church when threatened with deportation. With the brewing fight over immigration, she may actually be the real "Person of the Year." "She says she will not take her son back to a country she gave up for a better life; nor will she leave him to fend for himself in the U.S. 'It's wrong to split up families. I'm fighting for my son, not for myself. It's a matter of principle. I don't want him treated like garbage,' she says, adding, 'I am a mom and a worker. I am not a terrorist.'"


There will always be bitching over choices like Time's "Person of the Year," but afterall I'm not a bad choice, my mom really would be proud.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Did Kofi Annan forget Truman's crimes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Earlier this week outgoing UN Sec'y General Kofi Annan traveled to Independence, Mo. to pay tribute to Harry Truman at the same time that he criticized Bush in his farewell address. Here's how the International Herald Tribune reported Annan's speech:

"In a clear reference to the lack of international support for the American action in Iraq, he said, 'No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose - for broadly shared aims - in accordance with broadly accepted norms.'" [My emphasis]

"Annan also cited Truman's statement that 'the responsibility of great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world,' and noted approvingly how Truman had used American power to face down a threat to international order during his administration.

"'He believed strongly that henceforth security must be collective and indivisible,' Annan said. 'That was why, for instance, that he insisted, when faced with aggression by North Korea against the South in 1950, on bringing the issue to the United Nations and placing U.S. troops under the UN flag, at the head of a multinational force.'"

I understand how Truman's role in the founding of the UN in 1945 and the contrast between Truman's actions in Korea and Bush's invasion of Iraq may have influenced Annan's choice of a location for the speech, but I think he must have forgotten those two horrible days in August 1945 when following Truman's orders the first atomic bombs ever used rained down on the innocent people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nothing Truman did as president trumps giving those orders. That is the true Truman legacy.

This is from Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Ralph Raiko:

"The most spectacular episode of TrumanÂ’s presidency will never be forgotten, but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve U.S. Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead."

"Thus, the rationale for the atomic bombings has come to rest on a single colossal fabrication, which has gained surprising currency: that they were necessary in order to save a half-million or more American lives. These, supposedly, are the lives that would have been lost in the planned invasion of Kyushu in December, then in the all-out invasion of Honshu the next year, if that was needed. But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives [possibly]lost The ridiculously inflated figure of a half-million for the potential death toll - nearly twice the total of U.S. dead in all theaters in the Second World War - is now routinely repeated in high-school and college textbooks and bandied about by ignorant commentators. Unsurprisingly, the prize for sheer fatuousness on this score goes to President George H.W. Bush, who claimed in 1991 that dropping the bomb 'spared millions of American lives.'"

"...Truman's multiple deceptions and self-deceptions are understandable, considering the horror he unleashed. It is equally understandable that the U.S. occupation authorities censored reports from the shattered cities and did not permit films and photographs of the thousands of corpses and the frightfully mutilated survivors to reach the public. Otherwise, Americans - and the rest of the world - might have drawn disturbing comparisons to scenes then coming to light from the Nazi concentration camps."

For all the good Annan may have done in his UN years and even in the farewell speech the choice of location will forever be a stain on his record.

Gallop predicts history's judgement on the Bush regime

Here are a couple of recent Gallop Poll results on the historical destiny of the Bush presidency. (One might question the evaluation of the Reagan presidency, but what the hell).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Murderous Chilean strongman Pinochet Dead

Gen. Augusto Pinochet
(AP File Photo)

If there is an intelligent designer out there of one thing there is no doubt: she has a wonderful sense of irony. What better day to end the life of murderous Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet than Human Rights Day.

Isabel Allende, deputy of Chile's Socialist Party, daughter of the democratically elected president who Pinochet drove to suicide in the process of taking power Sept 11, 1973 and cousin of the famous novelist of the same name "said her thoughts were with Pinochet's victims, not the dead man."

"Her father...committed suicide in La Moneda presidential palace rather than surrender to the military."

"'The truth is I never expected to see Pinochet in jail," the 61-year-old politician told a news conference in Madrid. 'Neither did it bother me. At 90 years of age it was all the same.'"

"Gen Pinochet took power...more than 3,000 people were killed or 'disappeared' in his 17-year rule.

"He was accused of dozens of human rights abuses as well as fraud but poor health meant he never faced trial.

"No state funeral or national mourning has been authorised. He will be buried with military honours on Tuesday.

"'The government has authorised flags to fly at half-mast at army facilities,' government spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said.

"Thousands of anti-Pinochet protesters took to the streets in the centre of the capital, Santiago, with tear gas and water cannon used to disperse crowds."

But Pinochet and his army cohorts did not overthrow Chile's democratically-elected government without help from outside. SF reports on Pinochet's closest ally,

"In recent years, declassified U.S. government documents have shown that the Nixon administration began a program to destabilize the Allende government, which had earned President Richard Nixon's wrath by nationalizing U.S. copper mines and other foreign-controlled businesses, rural estates and banks and recognizing Cold War foes of the United States such as Cuba, North Korea and North Vietnam. Led by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Washington financed labor strikes, propaganda and military plotters, paving the way for Pinochet's rise to power, some historians have argued. 'It is not part of American history we are proud of,' former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2003."

In a discussion this morning with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now , Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability and a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a public-interest documentation center in Washington, expanded on Pinochet and the Kissinger/Pinochet link:

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, that he will go down in history along with a pantheon of other deceased dictators -- Francisco Franco, Milosevic, Mussolini -- a man whose name became synonymous with human rights violations. He and the US support for him galvanized the human rights movement in the United States of America, as we know it today. The American public rose up and said, “We don't want our tax dollars to be spent supporting a dictator like Augusto Pinochet,” and they forced Congress to pass laws that restricted Henry Kissinger from giving military and economic aid to Pinochet.

We should remember that Pinochet set the precedent, when he was arrested in London in October of 1998 -- the Pinochet precedent, it's known as now -- that dictators of his ilk can no longer freely travel abroad and think that they have immunity outside of the safety of their homeland. In the future, future dictators are going to think twice before they leave their cities, because Pinochet established that there is a possibility of universal jurisdiction, that many years later, the long arm of international justice and the kind of the tenacity of their victims can track them down and lead to their arrest.

AMY GOODMAN: How did Pinochet rise to power in Chile in 1973?

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, I think, as so many of your listeners know, Amy, that the United States, under the Nixon administration, a policy orchestrated by then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, worked to undermine and destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende. The United States helped create the conditions to justify a coup in Chile, create the chaos and instability to promote a Pinochet. There were secret meetings with Pinochet as early as a year before the coup, in which US military officials said to him, “When you’re ready for a coup, we’re ready to help you.” And then, immediately following the coup, the message was passed to him secretly from Kissinger’s office that the United States was going to help in any way for him to consolidate his rule, so his death does remind us of the US role in undermining democracy and supporting dictatorship in Latin America.

U.S. attempts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega - not to mention what the U.S. has in store for Cuba when Fidel dies - echo the behavior of the U.S. toward Allende's government in Chile.

At some point things have to change, but as we know from the U.S. invasion of Iraq it hasn't happened yet-Dan.

The undermining of our democracy

From an Oct.23 Project Vote Smart press release:

"As part of the data collection efforts, the Project [Vote Smart] has conducted a ten-year study called the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), which has asked every congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative candidate in the country since 1996 one question: Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?

"Results of the National Political Awareness Test from 1996-2006 indicate a dramatic nosedive over the last five election cycles in the willingness of candidates of both major parties to say "yes" to that question, and then prove it by answering a few questions on issues known to be of concern to voters in their state. In the 1996-1998 tests, a high of 72 percent of all federal candidates and 38 percent of all state legislative candidates responded "yes" to the question. Since then, the decline has been steady and dramatic. The 2006 statistics are at an all time low of 48 percent and 26 percent for federal and state legislative candidates respectively. Gubernatorial candidate rates for 2006 are at 43%, also an all time low.

"Following documented advice from their campaign consultants and party leaders, candidates of both major parties cite fear of opposition research and a need to control their campaign message to justify withholding information from voters.

"Now candidates for public office attempt to tailor their images to what they think will sell in the political marketplace. This campaign strategy counts on the voters buying these images instead of requiring straight-forward answers from the candidates to fair-minded questions on the issues they will have to face if elected.

"'Campaign consultants now have enormous power over our election process, and they are not accountable to the public in any way,' Kimball said. 'One campaign consultant told us, "It's not our job to educate--it's our job to win." Another said, "I advised my candidate not to answer issue questions unless they came with a campaign donation." This cynical advice strips citizens of the information the Founding Fathers considered essential if they were to cast the vote out to the masses."

Anti-Muslim racism rears its ugly head as Ellison prepares to take office

Minn. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison

Here's what right-wing nut Dennis Prager has to say about Rep.-elect Keith Ellison's choice of a Koran for his oath taking ceremony. Note particularly how fragile he thinks "American civilization" is in the face of the threat of one oath on the Koran. This seems to be much the same as the fragility of "hetero-sexual marriage" in the face of the threat from gay and lesbian marriage. How come everything these people believe in is so fragile?

I wonder if Joe Lieberman will take his Senate oath on a New Testament. Or would Prager consider the Old Testament less of a threat to "American civilization."

These people just keep lampooning themselves.

"Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

"He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization."

A right wing divided: Brownback on engaging Iran & Syria

"One of the key recommendations of the Iraq Study Group was direct, unconditional engagement with Iran and Syria. It was quickly rejected by the Bush administration.

"[Sunday] morning on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Sam Brownback — one of the most conservative members of the Senate — embraced the recommendation, but with an unusual twist. Brownback said that the administration should 'park' Vice President Cheney in the region, leading the diplomatic effort. Watch it:"

But keep in mind, Brownback wants the 2008 presidential nomination - so seeming reasonable not crazy might help his effort

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Democrats play nice with Bush defense nominee

Prior to the Nov. 7 election a number of key Democrats and liberal pundits called for the firing of Secy. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The Democrats handily won the election. In order to divert media attention from the Democratic victory and buy himself more time in Iraq, Bush fired Rumsfeld (although immediately before the election he blatantly lied saying that Rumsfeld's job was safe).

Bush then selected an old Washington hand Robert Gates, who is known to comply with whatever his bosses want. Among other misdeeds Gates was intimately involved with the Iran-Contra deception of the 1980s.

The corporate media pundits, following the right-wing definition of the situation, have argued that the Democrats still have to prove that they can play the anti-terrorism game with the big boys and "keep the American people safe." The fact that it is the Bush administration and its puppet brigade in Congress that have totally failed the American people (not to mention the Iraqis) doesn't seem to have shaped the post-election discussion. It remains for the Democrats to prove that they are capable of standing up to the terrorists.

It seems that they took a step toward "manhood" Tuesday. It wasn't yet their bar mitzvah, but it was definitely a step in the "right" direction. In other words, instead of offering a serious alternative to the Bush Iraq mantra "we will not stop short of victory," whatever that means, the Democrats are still chanting "we can fight the war better than you can." When clearly what the people want is an end to this Bush fantasy.


"Robert Gates won approval by a Senate panel Tuesday to be the next defense secretary after a daylong hearing in which he said the U.S. is not winning the war in Iraq and there could be a "regional conflagration" if the country is not stabilized.

"At a Senate confirmation hearing that was long on praise for Gates and short on criticism, the man President Bush picked to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld said he is open to new ideas about correcting the U.S. course in Iraq. He said the war would be his highest priority if confirmed as expected.

"In a closed-door meeting following five hours of open testimony, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 21-0 to recommend approval of Gates' nomination, said panel chairman John Warner, R-Va."

Baby Bush still trying to stand up to his dad

"President George W. Bush, facing growing public discontent over the Iraq war, admitted on Monday his parents are worried about him but insisted he rarely talks policy with his father."

"Asked to comment on widespread view that his father's influence was coming to bear on his administration, Bush insisted: 'I am the commander-in-chief.'"

(from Yahoo News)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Can "Socialist" Sanders make Democrats live up to a liberal agenda?

Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
at his office in Burlington, Vermont
Nov. 28, 2006. {REUTERS/Brian Snyder}

Here's a fascinating story By Jason Szep (from Reuters), which I think highlights the political divide on the Democratic side of the aisle in the new Congress.

"From pressing for hearings on Iraq to probing no-bid contracts awarded to Halliburton Co., America's first socialist senator aims to give Congress a hard tilt to the left.

"Bernie Sanders, a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives who swept 65 percent of the vote in Vermont running as an independent in the November 7 elections, says Congress owes voters an exhaustive probe into the White House.

"'It is time to ask some hard questions. Why did we go into Iraq and what did the president know and when did he know it,' Sanders said in an interview in his Burlington office on a hillside above Lake Champlain near Canada's border.

"'The war in Iraq has been an absolute disaster and it's absolutely imperative that America never again goes that route. That's why we have to ask those questions,' he said."

These are obviously the questions that any self-respecting Congress (Democratic or Republican) would ask. Why does it require a "socialist" to make them do their job?

Oh wait, maybe there's an answer.

"Sanders has voted with Democrats in the House since his first election in 1990 and plans to continue to do so in the Senate, where his vote is needed for Democrats to keep its slim 51-49 majority. Democrats ran no candidate against him in this year's election.

"His views described as democratic socialist underscore tension in the new Democratic-controlled Congress between urges to confront and investigate President George W. Bush's administration and to govern from the middle while refraining from the most controversial elements on the liberal agenda."

So, in other words, there's going to be a steel-cage match between the right-wing Democrats (led by independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Leadership Council) and "the liberal agenda" of independent socialist Bernie Sanders. Well, it's going to be interesting.
Perhaps most interesting will be on which side of this political divide the potential Democratic presidential candidates will fall.

(The article is also available at news center)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Joe "more troops" Lieberman: some people never learn

So you thought Joe Lieberman might learn something from the Nov. 7 election. Well, listen to this. He's to the right (not just on the video) of Rep. Sen. Chuck Hagel. From what he's saying, he would probably make a good vice-presidential candidate with John McCain. They're the "more troops" boys.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bush brings democracy to Iraq

Bush and Iraq's al-Maliki

(from Democracy Now)

"... the Iraqi government has announced it will prosecute journalists who fail to correct stories the Iraqi government decides are incorrect. Iraq’s Interior Ministry has established a new unit to monitor journalists and their news coverage."

Way to go Georgie, are there any other countries to which you can bring democracy? - Dan

Giants take a page from Rove's playbook

#58 Antonio Pierce

(from USA Today)

"They claim it's Team Togeth- erness now, the Giants vs. the media, their new fuel source heading into Sunday's showdown for first place in the NFC East against the Dallas Cowboys at Giants Stadium.

"'I want to thank you guys for causing all of the disruption on our team,' Antonio Pierce said. 'You all did this last time when we were 1-2 and good things came out of it. So keep writing negative things and keep trying to make guys bicker on our team. ... We're angry at all of you guys and we thank you for that. We're not angry at one another. Strahan and Plax kissed this morning. It was a beautiful thing.'"

I'll bet it was. I suspect they will file for a marriage certificate as soon as possible.

Giant Coach Tom Coughlin
Hey Coach, It looks like the Giants have taken a page from Karl Rove's playbook , when you lose blame the press.

Mel Gibson feels Michael Richards pain

If you were Michael Richards, except for the Grand Dragon of the KKK, who would you least like to publically support you? Right.

well guess what:

"Though he's lost many fans after being captured on video hurling racist epithets at a comedy club audience, Michael Richards has an ally: Mel Gibson. 'I felt like sending Michael Richards a note,' Gibson says in an interview in Entertainment Weekly's Dec. 8 issue.

"'I feel really badly for the guy. He was obviously in a state of stress. You don't need to be inebriated to be bent out of shape. But my heart went out to the guy.'"