Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mark Twain: The War Prayer

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds
with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the
pale forms of
their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder
of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;
help us to lay waste their
humble homes with a hurricane of fire;

Read it here:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Israel loses the world with its barbarism in Lebanon--But Bush does not relent

"If You Haven't Left, You're Hezbollah"

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail

*SIDON, Lebanon, Jul 30 (IPS) - The Israeli attack on Qana has taken the
biggest toll of the war, but it is only one of countless lethal attacks
on civilians in Lebanon. *

Large numbers fled the south after Israelis dropped leaflets warning of
attacks. Others have been unable to leave, often because they have not
found the means. The Israelis have taken that to mean that they are
therefore Hezbollah.

Israeli justice minister Haim Ramon announced on Israeli army radio
Thursday that "all those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related
in some way to Hezbollah."

Justifying the collective punishment of people in southern Lebanon,
Ramon added, "In order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers
battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be
flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in."

This policy explains the large number of wounded in the hospitals of
Sidon in the south..

Wounded people from southern Lebanon narrate countless instances of
indiscriminate attacks by the Israeli military.

Thirty-six-year-old Khuder Gazali, an ambulance driver whose arm was
blown off by an Israeli rocket, told IPS that his ambulance was hit
while trying to rescue civilians whose home had just been bombed.

"Last Sunday people came to us and asked us to go help some people after
their home was bombed by the Israelis," he said from his bed in Hamoudi
Hospital in Sidon, the largest in southern Lebanon. "We found one of
them, without his legs, lying in a garden, so we tried to take him to
the nearest hospital."

On way to the hospital an Israeli Apache helicopter hit his ambulance
with a rocket, severely injuring him and the four people in the back of
the vehicle, he said.

"So then another ambulance tried to reach us to rescue us, but it too
was bombed by an Apache, killing everyone inside it," he said. "Then it
was a third ambulance which finally managed to rescue us."

Khuder, who had shrapnel wounds all over his body, said "this is a
crime, and I want people in the west to know the Israelis do not
differentiate between innocent people and fighters. They are committing
acts of evil.. They are attacking civilians, and they are criminals."

At Labib Medical Centre in Sidon, countless survivors of Israeli
bombardment had similar stories to tell.

Sixteen-year-old Ibrahim al-Hama told IPS that he and his friends were
hit by an Israeli bomb while they were swimming in a river near a
village north of Tyre.

"Two of my friends were killed, along with a woman," said al-Hama. "Why
did they bomb us?"

In an adjacent room, a man whose wife and two small children were
recovering from wounds suffered in Israeli bombing told IPS that they
had left their village near the border because the bombings had become
fierce, and the Israeli military had dropped leaflets ordering them to

"We ran out of food, and the children were hungry, so they left with my
wife and her sister in a car which followed a Red Crescent ambulance,
while another car took the two other sisters of my wife," he said. "They
reached Kafra village, and an F-16 bombed the car with my wife's two
sisters. They are dead."

Such killings have been common throughout the south.

On July 23, a family left their village after Israelis dropped leaflets
ordering them out. Their car carried a white flag, but was still bombed
by an Israeli plane. Three in the car were killed.

The same day, three of 19 passengers in a van heading away from the
southern village Tiri were killed when it was bombed by an Israeli plane.

A 43-year-old man from Durish Zhair village south of Tyre lay at the
Labib Medical Centre with multiple shrapnel wounds and half his body
blackened by fire.

"Please tell them to stop using white phosphorous," he said. "The
Israelis must stop these attacks. Do not allow the Israelis to continue
murdering us." He and his family were bombed in their home.

Zhair said his family were scattered in hospitals and refugee centres in
Sidon and Beirut. But in the hospital hallway outside his room, head
nurse of the hospital Gemma Sayer said "all of his family is dead. We
cannot tell him yet because he is so badly injured."

United Nations forces have been targeted again by the Israelis. Two
soldiers with the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon were wounded
after their observation post was damaged in an Israeli air strike.

Last week, an Israeli missile killed four UN observers; an attack that
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described as "apparently deliberate."

Thousands of angry protestors stormed the UN building in Beirut Sunday
after at least 34 children and 20 adults were killed inside a shelter
targeted by an Israeli air strike in the southern town Qana.

As Israeli military drones buzzed over the capital city, smoke was seen
rising from the building as UN troops struggled to control the crowds.

Efforts to evacuate the wounded in Qana have been hindered because roads
around the town have been destroyed by air strikes.

The Israeli military refused to take responsibility for the Qana deaths,
because they said Hezbollah had used the village to launch rockets.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud told reporters Sunday that the Qana
attack was a "disgrace" and that there was no chance for peace talks
until an immediate ceasefire was called. "Israel's leaders think of
nothing but destruction, they do not think of peace."

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora described the bombing in Qana as a "war
crime." At least 600 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 51 Israelis have
been killed since the conflict began.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.

Dahr Jamail:

Chest-Beating -- While Losing the War

Mother Jones Website
News: Daily Dispatches from the War-Torn Lebanese Capital
By Dahr Jamail

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'd been wondering why there have been fewer war planes buzzing over
Beirut the last several days. Even Dahaya, the utterly devastated
southern area of the capital, has been bombed less--while still
receiving a good pounding most afternoons, there have clearly been fewer
bombs echoing across the capital.

Israel, after claiming to have control of the small southern city of
Bint Jbail, merely a few kilometers inside Lebanon, lost at least 13
soldiers there recently. The official count of nine deaths is widely
believed here to be false.

The fog of war, of course, is thick.

Bush claims he is "troubled" by the widespread destruction caused by
Israeli air strikes across Lebanon. "Troubled" while green-lighting
Israel to continue to do what it wishes. But not "troubled" enough to
have his UN crony John Bolton veto a U.N. resolution condemning the
slaughter of four U.N. observers in the south. While so many Americans
choose to continue their sleep-walk through history, the rest of the
world gets what is going on. Already the U.S. is paying a heavy
political price for its unbridled support of the Israeli assault against
the people of Lebanon.

The chest-beating Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had his justice
minister, Haim Ramon, tell people yesterday that everyone in southern
Lebanon will be regarded as a terrorist, as their military prepared to
employ "huge firepower" against Hezbollah.

"What we should do in southern Lebanon is employ huge firepower before a
ground force goes in," quizzled Ramon at a security cabinet meeting
headed by Olmert, "Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is
connected to Hezbollah. Our great advantage vis-a-vis Hezbollah is our
firepower, not in face-to-face combat."

Yes--Bint Jbail has shown them this. That they will hold off on the
larger scale invasion, as it would be a disaster for Israel to face one
Bint Jbail after another. A gross analogy for Bint Jbail would be
Fallujah, April 2004. There is now a short grace period for the women,
children and elderly "terrorists" there who can't leave. Lebanese Red
Crescent workers have told me that they can't get there to evacuate
people, because they are too afraid more of their ambulances will be
bombed by war planes.

So it will be another "shock and awe" before rolling in the ground
troops. Read-Fallujah, November 2004.

And like Fallujah, which the U.S. military has failed to have control of
at any time following the leveling of that city, Israel will find the
same in southern Lebanon. Despite the fact that they are acting as a
Middle Eastern arm for the American Empire, and obediently labeling
anyone who resists them as a "terrorist."

Israel's Vietnam--their failed 18 year occupation of southern Lebanon
which ended in 2000, is fresh in their minds. Elias Hanna, a researcher
of military affairs said recently, "Israelis are traumatized by their
negative experience during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. They are
afraid of suffering more losses in every village they try to conquer."

And suffer those losses they will, even after dropping ton after ton of
U.S. made bombs from their U.S. supplied F-16's on, among others, the
women and children of southern Lebanon who are unable to escape.

Clearly, the Israeli short-term memory of their Vietnam experience is
even shorter than that of the American military planners, who recently
decided to extend the tours of over 3,000 troops in Iraq.

In a televised address this Tuesday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of
Hezbollah, said the Israeli attack on Lebanon is an attempt by the U.S.
and Israel to "impose a new Middle East" in which Lebanon would be under
US hegemony.

And he's right. The following day Al-Jazeera released a story titled,
"Israeli invasion of Lebanon planned by neocons in June (2006)."

The story reads: "It was done at a June 17 and 18 meeting at the
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado
at which former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud
Knesset member Natan Sharansky met with US Vice President Dick Cheney
[the true president of this "administration".] The purpose was to
discuss the planned and impending Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invasions
of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Cheney was thoroughly briefed and
approved the coming assaults - before Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier
on June 25 or Hezbollah's capturing of two others in an exchange first
reported as occurring in Israel and now believed to have happened inside
Lebanon after IDF forces illegally entered the country."

Most people I have discussed this with here in Lebanon get it. They
understand U.S. hegemony, after being betrayed by the Americans over and
over again. Betrayed only because it was their mistake to trust the
empire in the first place. And Lebanese understand that the Israeli
attack is an extension of that empire.

This is reflected in a poll recently released by the Beirut Center for
Research and Information. 87% of Lebanese support Hezbullah's fight with
Israel. It isn't suprising to me, after interviewing Christians and
Sunni Mulsims here, who in the past tended not to support Hezbollah in
any way, that most of them now thought that the Hezbollah resistance of
Israeli aggression was completely legitimate.

The poll reflected this as well, stating that 80 percent of Christians
supported Hezbollah, alog with 80 percent of the Druze and 89 percent of
the Sunnis.

The same poll found that a whopping 8 percent of Lebanese feel that the
U.S. supports them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


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Brutal. Cold. Dead. That's Ms. Rice in a nutshell

Appeasement 2006: Europe capitulates to American-Israeli aggression

Statement of the Editorial Board
27 July 2006

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

The international conference in Rome held Wednesday to address the crisis precipitated by the Israeli attack on Lebanon ended without a call for a ceasefire. According to numerous press accounts, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood virtually alone in opposing any language in the conference statement suggesting that the Israeli onslaught, which has already caused close to 500 civilian deaths and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, should be ended any time soon.

According to the International Herald Tribune: “European and Arab governments, as well as Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations and Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, also had pushed hard for an immediate cease-fire, but lost as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dug in. She stuck to the position that agreement on an ‘enduring peace’ had to be in place before the parties were called to stop fighting.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, attending the meeting along with senior diplomats from the US, Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Canada, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, as well as United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, delivered an impassioned and eloquent speech to urge an immediate halt to hostilities.

Sinoria asked: “Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere? Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?”

Saying his country was being “cut to pieces” by Israel, he vowed to begin legal proceedings against Israel, implying that Israel was guilty of war crimes and saying he would seek war reparations for “the barbaric destruction that [Israel] has inflicted on us.” He ended his remarks with a quote from the Roman historian Tacitus, which he said describes what Israel is doing to Lebanon today. “They created a desolation and call it peace.”

According to one press report, diplomats said there was visible emotion around the room after Siniora’s comments. Rice, however, was not moved. At a press conference following the meeting, she mentioned in passing Siniora’s “very impassioned” speech, and went on to reiterate her opposition to a suspension of Israeli attacks on Lebanese cities, towns and villages, as well as her insistence that the purpose of any international force in southern Lebanon would be to disarm Hezbollah.

The Rome conference demonstrated both the lawlessness of the US and the impotence of the European governments. Everyone in the meeting room knew full well what Israel and the US were up to in Lebanon. Only the day before, Israel had fired a precision missile at a long-standing and plainly marked United Nations post on the Lebanese side of the border, killing four UN monitors.

Rice’s role at the conference made crystal clear that the war is being waged by Israel, but the US is the power pulling the strings.

Yet not one of the participants had the principle or courage to stand up to Rice. Why was there no ceasefire resolution? Because the US was against it and the US had the only vote that counted.

The entire European bourgeoisie, and the United Nations as well, once again demonstrated their impotence in the face of US imperialism. Europe is prepared to defy the US when it comes to matters of trade—that is, to haggle over money—but in the face of massive and historic crimes it exhibits complete cowardice. It is, in fact, complicit in these crimes.

This is true of all sides and shades of the official political spectrum—so-called “left” governments and parties no less than their right-wing counterparts. Thus the Italian center-left government of Romano Prodi, which includes in its coalition two parties that arose out of the shambles of the Italian Communist Party—the Democratic Party of the Left and Communist Refoundation—agreed to host the meeting, which was set up at Washington’s request to rubberstamp the US-Israeli war policy. Massimo D’Alema, a veteran of the Communist Party and current foreign minister, was particularly obsequious toward the American secretary of state.

Then there was the spectacle of Kofi Annan, who had the day before accused Israel of deliberately targeting his UN monitors, sitting beside Rice and announcing his acceptance of Israel’s perfunctory and cynical apology.

The brutal US-backed war against Lebanon, and the unwillingness or inability of the other major powers to oppose it, mark a milestone in the breakup of the post-World War II framework of international law. The world is witnessing once again a descent into the type of untrammeled imperialist lawlessness and violence that characterized the 1930s and culminated in the second world war of the twentieth century.

Siniora’s futile plea to the Rome meeting recalls a similar event that occurred almost exactly 70 years ago: the speech of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie before the League of Nations in June of 1936. Selassie appealed to the world body to halt the bloody invasion of his country by fascist Italy, but the League of Nations did nothing.

Whereas in that period it was the drive of Japan for regional dominance in Asia and of Germany for domination over Europe that spearheaded the onset of a global catastrophe, today the role of chief aggressor is played by the United States, which is bent on establishing hegemony over the entire world. For Washington, the reorganization of the Middle East and Central Asia is a critical component of this quest for global supremacy. The American ruling elite sees Israel’s striving for regional dominance as something it can utilize in realizing its own grand, and demented, design.

For decades following the Second World War, the capitulation of the major powers to German imperialism in the 1930s—their refusal to respond to the Nazis’ flagrant and violent assaults on international law—was condemned as “appeasement.” But the same pattern has reemerged no less forcefully today, in the form of Europe’s appeasement of the United States.

The outcome of the Rome conference underscores the fact that the United States is seeking to settle the crisis in Lebanon on the basis of the military destruction of Hezbollah. This is part of a deliberate and long-standing plan worked out between the US and Israel to destroy all popular resistance in Lebanon to US domination of that country, to be effected by turning it into a virtual protectorate of Israel.

The suppression of Hezbollah, considered by Washington to be allied with Syria and Iran, is, in turn, seen as critical to American imperialism’s goal of eliminating those two regimes, which are deemed obstacles to US domination of the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia.

Hezbollah’s July 12 border raid, in which two Israeli soldiers were captured, was merely the pretext for setting this imperialist operation into motion.

These facts are being systematically and deliberately obscured by a media propaganda blitz which aims to turn reality on its head, presenting the aggressors as the victims and the victims as the war-mongers. Terms are stripped of their real meaning and used to confuse and conceal, rather than inform.

Thus, “diplomacy” is applied to the US government’s policy of issuing ultimatums and demanding that Hezbollah and Lebanon accede to the war aims of Washington and Jerusalem, under threat of annihilation. Rice’s mission to the Middle East and Europe, whose first and foremost purpose was to keep the war going and give Israel as much time as possible to wipe out the Lebanese resistance—as well as the Palestinian resistance in Gaza—is described as a “peace” mission.

The ubiquitous term “terrorist” is applied to all those who resist US and Israeli domination. What else, however, is Israel doing with its military onslaught but terrorizing the Lebanese people?

It is by now increasingly obvious that the term “terrorist” is flung against whomever the United States chooses at any given point to target for political subversion or military attack. Once the label has been applied, all further discussion of the history, policies or social makeup of the country or group so branded is treated as illegitimate. The US government can always rely on a supine and compliant media to demonize the latest “terrorist threat,” even when the targeted organization or country was not so long before one of the “good guys.”

In the current case, the absurdity of this all-purpose propaganda gambit is underscored by the fact that Hezbollah is a bitter political opponent of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

All of this is designed to prevent the American people from grasping the lawless and bloody character of US foreign policy—a policy that is supported by the entire political establishment, the Democrats no less than the Republicans. It is difficult for broad masses of people to grasp fully the scale of American and Israeli violence, and the brazen character of their aggression.

For decades the US postured as the defender of international law. In the post-World War II period, it generally supported ceasefires in regional conflicts, something that was considered the basic precondition for a negotiated political settlement.

That period is over. What increasingly predominates is the unrestrained assertion of imperialist ambitions, in which the United States plays the leading role. That is the essential significance of the Bush administration’s doctrine of preemptive war. As the current slaughter in Lebanon demonstrates, for the American ruling elite war is not only a legitimate tool of foreign policy, it is the preferred means of asserting its interests.

The problem that the US and Israel face in their current offensive is that they underestimated the depth of resistance in Lebanon. The Israeli military, armed to the teeth by the US, has suffered considerable casualties in its ground operations in southern Lebanon, where it faces a determined and disciplined opponent in Hezbollah, one, moreover, that enjoys mass popular support.

The plans of the US and Israel for a short, bloody war have evaporated. However, that only increases the likelihood that Israel, at the urging of the US, will carry out a colossal intensification of violence in Lebanon. This has already been signaled by Israel’s deliberate bombing of the UN monitoring post.

Neither the US nor Israel can afford a military quagmire that punctures the myth of Israeli invincibility. Such a development would encourage the popular resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, placing in doubt not only Israel’s regional supremacy, but the existence of the Arab bourgeois regimes in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt upon which both the US and Israel rely.

It would have no less explosive consequences within Israel itself. The effort of the Israeli ruling elite to hold the working masses in thrall with the supposedly omnipresent threat of annihilation by the Arabs is complimented by the depiction of the Israeli military as the only guarantee of survival. A serious crack in that image could provide an outlet for social tensions that are simmering just beneath the surface of one of the most economically polarized societies in the world.

There are already signs of mounting opposition within Israel to the current war, and that opposition will grow not only as a result of the rising toll of Israeli military and civilian deaths, but also as Israeli workers and youth begin to comprehend the scale of the havoc, chaos and death being inflicted on the Lebanese people in their name.

The great and tragic lesson of the 1930s was that the catastrophe of war could not be averted by appealing to one or another imperialist power, or allying with the bourgeoisie of any nation, but only through the revolutionary mobilization of the working people against militarism and the capitalist system that breeds it.

The only force that can prevent another global catastrophe is the international working class. Today, once again, this lesson comes to the fore, and it must become the basis for the building of a new international socialist movement of the working class.

See Also:
Rice leaves bloody footprints in Lebanon
[26 July 2006]

Passions run high against "Lord" Lieberman

Passions run high in Connecticut Senate race
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Herd the livestock inside the gates, raise the drawbridge and man the parapets: There’s a populist rebellion gathering force in Connecticut. Armed with pitchforks and flaming torches, the rebellious peasants of the nation’s wealthiest state are reported to be marching on Sen. Joe Lieberman’s castle. Or perhaps we should call him Lord Lieberman. Judging by their shocked tone, commentator Josh Marshall observes, that’s how most Washington courtier/pundits view Ned Lamont’s Aug. 8 primary challenge to Connecticut’s three-term Democratic senator—as a revolutionary insurrection against a hereditary peer of the realm. Who does Lamont think he is? To New York Times columnist David Brooks, “What’s happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition.” He sees Lieberman as the victim of “a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really
fit to explain.” Coming from a fellow who’s hardly said boo as prominent
Republicans have called the editors of his own newspaper traitors, urging their imprisonment and execution, this seems a bit melodramatic. Especially since he cites no examples.

Writing in Roll Call, Mort Kondracke depicted the Connecticut contest as
a struggle for “the soul of the Democratic Party—and possibly the future of civility in American politics.” And we all know Kondracke’s great concern for the souls of Democrats. Tragically, an “emergent new left that’s using savage, Internet-based attacks to push moderation out of politics” has targeted poor Holy Joe, as some who find Lieberman more sanctimonious than principled call him.

The New Republic, an allegedly liberal magazine dubbed “The Joe Lieberman Weekly” by his political foes, has coined a term for Internet Web sites trying to help Lamont win. They are “blogofascists,” filled with “intolerance and rage.”

Granted, it’s possible to find most of the major bad words on certain liberal Web sites if you hunt for them. Nothing quite as shocking as the average “Sopranos” episode or the many “conservative” sites that routinely whoop it up over the deaths of Arab children and call for the assassination of Supreme Court justices. But definitely impolite.

Boys, here in the U.S.A., it’s called an election. Appearances notwithstanding, Washington celebrity pols like Lieberman aren’t granted titles. Any time they get too far out of step with their constituents, they’re apt to face a challenge.

On first appearance, Ned Lamont hardly looks like a pitchfork-wielding radical. A partial heir to the J. P. Morgan fortune, he’s made big money in cable TV. On domestic issues, he and Lieberman differ little. (Except for Lieberman’s very odd view that rape victims should be shuttled around in ambulances until they find a hospital whose religious principles don’t forbid dispensing “morning-after” contraceptives.)

Where the two disagree most passionately is over the war in Iraq. Lieberman didn’t just vote for it; many Democratic senators not in trouble with their constituents, such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, did that. Lieberman, however, virtually led cheers, in the process making himself the nation’s most prominent Bush Democrat.

Although Lieberman’s now trying to distance himself from George W. Bush’s manifestly incompetent prosecution of the war, as recently as last December he warned, “It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”

To which U. S. Rep. John Murtha replied, “Undermining his credibility? What has [Bush ] said that would give him credibility?”

Everywhere Lieberman goes in Connecticut, a large papier-mâché statue of
Bush planting a kiss on his cheek, as he did following the 2005 State of the Union speech, follows. The nastiest thing Lamont has done is to run TV ads where Lieberman’s face morphs into Bush’s, or Lieberman speaks, but Bush’s voice emerges.

True, some Democrats are still angry with Lieberman for his self-righteous speech chastising Bill Clinton’s sexual sins during the 1998 impeachment follies. OK, so he kicked an old friend while he was down. Apparently, Clinton himself thinks he deserved it, because he’s campaigned for Lieberman in Connecticut. But the Big Dog and Hillary also have indicated that they’ll support the Democratic nominee, even if Lieberman loses and, as promised, runs as a third party of one come November. Polls show Lamont leading. Feelings are running strong. Irving Stolberg, former speaker of the Connecticut House and a longtime Lieberman ally, recently endorsed Lamont in the Hartford Courant. He wrote that Lieberman’s “blind support of the Iraq war, begun illegally and a continuing catastrophe, is monstrous.” Stolberg added that Lieberman’s “defense of an incompetent president, a vice president who fits the dictionary definition of fascism and an extremist administration that has perpetrated torture, illegal eavesdropping and a general shredding of the Constitution is insulting to the people who elected him in the first place.” Savage? Vituperative? Not really. But strong? Definitely strong.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


US national parks: How the west was withered

Twelve of America's national parks, among the most spectacular landscapes in the US, are under threat from climate change symptoms such as forest fires and melting glaciers. By David Usborne

Published: 27 July 2006

Global warming is threatening to ruin many of America's most treasured national parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone and Death Valley, environmental groups have warned. The risks include more forest fires, retreating snow lines, disappearing glaciers and the displacing of rare animal species.

"Rising temperatures, drought, wildfires and diminished snowfalls endanger wildlife and threaten hiking, fishing and other recreational activities," said Theo Spencer of the National Resources Defence Council. "Imagine Glacier Park without glaciers or Yellowstone without any grizzly bears."

The report, published jointly by the Defence Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organisation, lists 12 parks considered to be in greatest jeopardy from rising temperatures. All are in the western United States where average temperatures have risen twice as fast as elsewhere in the country.

By focusing on the dangers for the parks, the authors are hoping to recruit more members of the public into putting pressure on the US government to act on global warming. Most of the US is in the grip of an intense heat wave just as all the national parks are jammed for the summer holiday season.

Meanwhile, researchers at the National Climatic Data Centre in North Carolina recently reported that the first six months of this year were the hottest on record since 1895.

"If we continue to increase our emissions of heat-trapping gases, a disrupted climate will cause the greatest damage to our national parks ever," said Stephen Saunders, a co-author of the report and president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organisation.

Among the dire predictions contained in the report, is the vision of familiar snowy peaks vanishing during the summer months from Mount Rainier National Park while lakes and streams in the Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain parks might soon dry up, frustrating fishermen and kayakers and driving animals in search of water elsewhere.

The report, which relies on global warming models and analyses from scientists at institutions such as the US Geological Survey and Nasa, suggests even the Joshua tree may be eliminated from Joshua Tree National Park and all the glaciers will be gone from Glacier National Park by 2030. At risk from rising sea levels are coastal parks such as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.

"This is an across-the-board alarm that some of our most special places really are at risk," said Mr Spencer. "We need federal efforts to limit global warming pollution across the board. It's as simple as that."


Where is it? California

Annual number of visitors: 3.3 million

Famous for? Sequoias, mountains, waterfalls

How is it being affected? Main threat is forest fires. The acreage burned will rise by 50 per cent by 2050, thanks to rising temperatures and deepening drought. Meanwhile, Yosemite's glaciers are melting. They have already shrunk by between 31 per cent and 78 per cent in the past 100 years. Animals believed to be at risk include the diminutive pika, an alpine relative of the rabbit. Hikers used to see pikas at 7,500ft or above. Now they cannot be seen below 9,500ft as rising temperatures force them up the slopes. Soon, they will run out of mountain.

Worst case scenario? Alpine wildlife threatened, woodland destroyed by forest fires, glacial meltdown.


Where is it? Montana

Annual number of visitors: 1.9 million

Famous for? Wildlife, spectacular deep valley glaciers, hanging valleys and glacial ridges

How is it being affected? Left to their own devices, glaciers shrink and expand over thousands of years. But recently, rising temperatures have sharply accelerated the melting process. All the ice formations in the park are now shrinking at an unprecedented rate. In 1968, there were 68 glaciers in the park. Today there are just 27. The park's signature turquoise lakes, yellow glacier lilies and alpine tundra will disappear with them. Visitor numbers are already dwindling; the park was once popular with cross-country skiers all year round.

Worst case scenario? Scientists expect all the glaciers in the park to have melted by 2030.

Grand Teton

Where is it? Wyoming

Annual number of visitors: 2.5 million

Famous for? Spectacular mountain scenery and wildlife ranging from bison to bald eagles

How is it being affected? Grand Teton National Park is one of America's busiest parks. Its popularity, however, is one of its drawbacks. The elk, moose, bison, grizzly bears, and hundreds of other species who thrive in this wild and desolate country, are having to compete for space and are drifting further afield in search of new pastures. As in Yellowstone (see above) climate change is allowing termites and insects to have an impact on many species of trees, posing a real threat to the sources of food on which the park's wildlife depends.

Worst case scenario? Wildlife extinction, overcrowding and changes in vegetation.

Glen Canyon

Where is it? Utah and Arizona

Annual number of visitors: 1.9 million

Famous for? Desert canyons, red limestone rock, watersports, rattlesnakes

How is it being affected? Years of drought caused the man-made Lake Powell to drop from full to 30 per cent capacity in 2005. Water levels could plummet by a further 30 per cent if climate change takes hold. As snow melts faster and rain falls in the place of snow, peak river flows could make white water rafting and kayaking too dangerous.

Worst case scenario? Drought, depleted tourist numbers.


Where is it? Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Annual number of visitors: 2.5-3 million

Famous for? Geothermal features and wildlife, including the largest population of grizzly bears in the US and the world's largest geyser. A third of Americans have visited Yellowstone.

How is it being affected? Hotter summers bring pest outbreaks, less snowfall and more intense wildfires, which threaten the iconic American wildlife so many tourists come to see. Although the population of grizzly bears, once endangered, is now slowly on the rise, park researchers say the bears are not out of the woods yet. Rising temperatures have left sources of food such as whitebark pine vulnerable to destructive insects that were previously repelled by cold temperatures. Grizzlies are already venturing further from their territory in an attempt to locate food; encounters with trigger-happy humans are the top threat to the species' survival.

Worst case scenario? More wildfires, melting snow, no more grizzlies.

Death Valley

Where is it? California

Annual number of visitors: 800,000

Famous for? Intense heat, sand dunes, canyons, haunting sunsets, abandoned mining towns

How is it being affected? Death Valley is often held up as an example of what will happen to the rest of the world if we do not heed the warning signs of climate change. But it too will suffer. Death Valley is a sensitive environment that straddles a fault line. Its sub-alpine pine forest will wither, stronger winds will cause more intense sandstorms, blasting geomorphic rock structures and causing frequent volcanic eruptions. The already intense heat will become intolerable, killing what little wildlife inhabits the area.

Worst case scenario? Nothing - not even mountain lions and kangaroo rats - will survive.

Golden Gate

Where is it? California

Annual number of visitors: 13.6 million

Famous for? Sprawling sandy beaches, bison and as a weekend escape for millions of San Franciscans

How is it being affected? The remit for the Golden Gate park, when it was established in 1972 on the outskirts of San Francisco, was to "bring parks to the people". But "the people" will have a battle on their hands if sea levels rise, depriving seven million Bay Area dwellers of cherished broad beaches and sweeping cliffs. A sea level increase of three feet would inundate all the sandy beaches in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Worst case scenario? Erosion of cliff faces and loss of all sandy beaches, used by more than seven million people a year.

Mount Rainier

Where is it? Washington State

Annual number of visitors: 1.2 million

Famous for? Active volcano and 97 per cent designated wilderness

How is it being affected? Established in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park covers a desolate 236,000 acres with an active volcano encased in more than 35 square miles of ice and snow. A decrease in the volume of snowfall due to global warming will lead the park's most visited spot - Paradise Valley, an awe-inspiring expanse of meadows carpeted with brilliantly coloured wildflowers - to disappear. Warmer climes will result in trees dominating the meadows, preventing wild flowers from growing and depriving the area of its magnificent colour.

Worst case scenario? Loss of wildflower meadows and recession of glaciers.

Rocky Mountain

Where is it? Colorado

Annual number of visitors: 2.7 million

Famous for? High mountain passes, climbing, wildlife

How is it being affected? Above the tree line in Colorado, this park boasts the biggest expanse of alpine tundra in the lower 48 states. Very high snowfall, screaming winds and a very short growing season already create an environment too hostile for trees to take root. But with rising temperatures, trees are creeping into the area, spelling an eventual end to the tundra. For every degree of warming, the trees could climb another 250 feet. If average temperatures were to rise by 9C, the tundra, with its unusual flower and birdlife, could be gone altogether.

Worst case scenario? Loss of rare plant and wildlife species, dwindling tourist numbers.


Where is it? New Mexico

Annual number of visitors: 250,000

Famous for? Wildflowers, trees, ice formations, climbing.

How is it being affected? In the searing New Mexico heat, the forests of Bandelier National Park offer precious relief. Rising temperatures could destroy much of the woodland, leaving wildlife and plants exposed. In 2002-03, extreme temperatures helped the natural destruction of vast expanses of the low-elevation forests that ring the park. In one area, 90 per cent of piñon trees died. There are no signs of regrowth. Botanists suspect this may be a repeat of the 1950 drought which killed whole forests of ponderosa trees.

Worst case scenario? Permanent loss of natural forests, woodland and animal life, including Pacific jumping mice.

North Cascades

Where is it? Washington State

Annual number of visitors: 18,500

Famous for? Cascading waterfalls and its status as the most heavily glaciated area in the United States outside of Alaska.

How is it being affected? The glaciers responsible for the park's chiselled peaks and tumbling streams are particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature and precipitation, making them important indicators of climate change. Experts say they are receding fast. Since 1959 they have lost more thanr 80 per cent of their ice, leading to summer streams being reduced by 30 per cent. Already threatened by over-fishing, salmon will be particularly vulnerable as they search for cold water streams.

Worst case scenario? Complete loss of glaciers leading to extinction of river species.

Mesa Verde

Where is it? Colorado

Famous for? More than 4,000 archaeological sites dating from AD600 and the stone "cliff dwellings" of the ancestral Pueblo people.

How is it being affected? More than half of the piñon trees at Mesa Verde National Park died from soaring temperatures between 2000 and 2003. Heat and drought threaten to destroy the habitats of the mountain lions, coyotes and blankets of richly coloured wildflowers that decorate the Colorado Plateau. Extreme temperatures in the arid area threaten to repel visitors, as well as archaeologists studying the site.

Worst case scenario? Baking temperatures, droughts and floods caused by global warming could eradicate plantlife, obliterate historical artefacts and terminate archaeological investigations.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Oscar's Flowers w Mieu

Oscar's Flowers w Mieu
Originally uploaded by AJ Franklin.
Please click the photo to read about our loss of her bunkmate, Siamese Oscar Johnson. She and we all miss him.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-TX) Says Global Warming is Voodoo Science

This is the letter I received from her:

Thank you for contacting me regarding global climate change. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

I believe any federal action affecting this matter should be based on sound scientific evidence* and a careful consideration of the economic and social costs involved. Lacking sound scientific evidence *, proposals such as the Kyoto treaty would place U.S. industries at a great competitive disadvantage in the global market place. We must act in a responsible way to clean our air and address the issue of global climate change while maintaining a level playing field for commerce. Please be assured that should relevant legislation come before the full Senate, I will consider it closely with your thoughts in mind.

Signed: Sincerely,

Kay Bailey Hutchison

*Emphasis added by AJ

Monday, July 24, 2006

Cons stick it to insurance buyers with trick clause

Friday, July 21, 2006

Place your mouse over the image to see captions

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Canadian government indifferent to Israel’s murder of eight of its citizens

By Keith Jones
20 July 2006

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Canada’s Conservative government has responded to the murder of eight Canadian citizens in an Israeli air strike with a shrug of its shoulders.

The Canadians, four adults and four children aged from 1 to 7, were among eleven members of the Al-Akhrass family who were killed as the result of Israeli strafing of the south Lebanese village of Aitaroun last Sunday. All four of the family’s houses in Aitaroun were destroyed by Israeli bombs.

In the past such an event would have triggered a strong Canadian protest, with Ottawa likely calling in the Israeli ambassador for an official dressing down. All the more so, since it is indisputable that the Israeli action against Lebanon, ostensibly launched in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers by Hezbollah, has taken the form of a punitive mission, with the Israeli military besieging the country and targeting Lebanese infrastructure and civilians

Of the three hundred people killed in the past eight days of fighting, the overwhelming majority have been, like Montreal pharmacist Ali Al-Akhrass and his family, innocent civilians.

The Conservative government, however, is callously indifferent to this loss of life, even when the dead are those whom it purportedly represents.

It has voiced not even a murmur of protest over the Israeli attack on Aitaroun. Nor does it appear Ottawa has done anything to investigate what happened in Aitaroun, apart from asking the Israeli government, whose military killed the Canadians, to provide details.

At a press conference Monday, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper offered “condolences” to the families of the Canadians killed in Lebanon, but only after reaffirming his government’s contention that Hamas and Hezbollah bear sole responsibility for the undeclared war now raging in the region and advancing arguments to justify the horrific loss of civilian life at the hands of the Israeli military.

There is a crisis in the Middle East, said Harper, “because of the actions of Hamas and the actions of Hezbollah” and “the onus remains” on them “to take steps to end the conflict.”

“But obviously,” continued Harper, “we urge Israel and others to minimize civilian damage.”

Lest this be construed as criticism of Israel for the deaths of the Canadians, Harper hastened to add, “It is difficult, though. We recognize it is difficult when you’re fighting a non-governmental organization that’s embedded in a civilian population.”

On Tuesday, Harper conceded that the wiping out of a large part of the extended Al-Akhrass family was a “tragedy,” but within the context of a vigorous defence of his July 13 statement that the Israeli response to the kidnapping of its soldiers by Hezbollah and Hamas was “measured”—i.e. appropriate.

“Measured,” says Harper, although the Israeli government has for all intents and purposes declared war on the Lebanese and Palestinian people and has made clear it has no real interest in negotiating for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Rather it is using their seizure as the pretext to bloodily rewrite the geo-politics of the Middle East.

If anything, Israel has been more concerned about the deaths of the Canadians in Aitaroun than the Harper government. While Ottawa’s action over the matter has been limited to a routine request for “information” from Tel Aviv, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert telephoned Harper yesterday to offer the Israeli’s government “condolences.”

The Harper government’s attitude toward Israel’s killing of its citizens exemplifies its complicity and that of the Bush administration and other western governments in Israel’s latest war of aggression—a war in which a massive military machine, equipped with the most sophisticated and deadly weaponry, is terrorizing an almost completely defenseless population in the name of “eradicating terrorism.”

As would be expected, Harper’s callous indifference to their relatives’ fate has angered the surviving members of the Al-Akhrass family. At a press conference in Montreal Monday, they denounced Israel for the slaughter of civilians and the Harper government for supporting the Israeli aggression against Lebanon.

“I am crying for all the innocents that are dying,” said Ali Al-Akhrass’ sister, Maysoun.

“I am crying because my country is being destroyed. By whom? Israel. Nobody, not the media, not Mr. Harper, is supporting Lebanon. Nobody is telling the truth.”

Family members said that Ali had brought his wife and four children to Aitaroun in late June for a five-week visit to their ancestral home. When fighting erupted last week, they contacted the Canadian embassy in Beirut for assistance in getting out of Lebanon, but embassy staff told them to stay put.

(Although more Canadians are reputed to be in Lebanon than the combined total of the nationals of all other western countries, several European states and the US began evacuating their citizens well-before Canada did. Only yesterday did Canada’s evacuation effort begin and in, what the press conceded was, widespread confusion.)

Canadian Arab Federation President Khaled Mouammar told a Toronto press conference Tuesday. “We are here to express our anger about statements made by the prime minister.”

“... The prime minister is justifying the murder of Canadian civilians in Lebanon and Palestine and he says nothing to condemn these attacks.”

Mouammar contrasted the Canadian government’s indifference to the deaths of the Al-Akhrass family with its vigorous demands that Iran investigate and prosecute those responsible for the death of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian photographer who died in an Iranian prison after being brutalized by Iranian security personnel.

Canada’s corporate media, meanwhile, has lauded the Harper government for using the Israeli aggression to shift Canada’s foreign policy sharply to the right and adopting yet again the policy and posture of the Bush administration as its own.

“The Harper government’s foreign policy shift,” enthused the Globe and Mails John Ibbitson, “amounts to a change of sides in the schism between North America and Europe over the Middle East. During the 2003 war with Iraq, Liberal foreign policy placed Canada on the side of France, Germany and Russia in opposition. Now Canada is onside with the United States, Britain and Australia in support of Israel ...”

Various press commentators have mocked opposition politicians, including interim Liberal leader Bill Grahamm for suggesting that the lack of “nuance” in the Harper government’s stance on the conflict in the Middle East will make Canada irrelevant in future diplomatic negotiations.

And the National Post, the flagship publication of the Canwest media empire, devoted a series of columns and its lead editorial Monday to exonerating Israel for any responsibility in the deaths of the eight Canadians. “Horrible as such deaths are,” declared the Post editorial, “there is an important moral distinction to be drawn between terrorists who kill civilians deliberately, as in the case of Hezbollah rockets attacks; and an army that accidentally kills civilians in the course of attacking military and strategic objectives.”

In fact, as the body count demonstrates, the target of Israel’s assault on Lebanon is its population. Israel aims, as several strategic analysts have explained, to inflict such misery and terror on the Lebanese that they will “turn against” Hezbollah—a movement that arose in response to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, an invasion which led directly to the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

The Harper government’s indifference to the murder of eight Canadians in Lebanon epitomizes its nature. In pursuing the agenda of big business—the repositioning of Canada on the global stage as a significant military power closely allied with the United States, the dismantling of what remains of the welfare state, and the systematic redistribution of wealth in favor of the owners of capital and the most privileged sections of the middle class though tax cuts and privatization—the Conservative government is utterly indifferent to the fate of the Canadian people.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fighting terrorism: President Simple at the wheel

Fighting terrorism
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2006

News bulletin: Israel is a foreign country. Foreign countries have their own interests, which aren’t necessarily those of the United States. It’s not our obligation to fight their battles, particularly when their actions are brutal, rash and foolhardy, and appear calculated to force a wider war that’s definitely no good for Americans, nor, ultimately, for Israelis. Which is not to indicate sympathy for the tactics of Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that scarcely existed until Israel’s abortive 1982 invasion “radicalized” the beaten-down Lebanese peasants on the Israeli border, nor of Hamas, its Sunni counterpart in Gaza. Terrorist strikes against Israeli civilians are morally abhorrent and politically stupid, engendering contempt and rage.

So are bombing strikes against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, like those Israel’s been conducting with great ferocity. Advocates for both sides claim the imprimatur of almighty God, whom fanatics often invoke when killing children.

In his oft-quoted essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell argued that political speech had become corrupted because it was “largely the defense of the indefensible.... [V ] illages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: This is called pacification.”

Today it’s called “fighting terrorism.”

The Israelis claim they do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties. Evidently, they’re quite bad at it, because for all the publicity given what their enemies call “martyrdom operations,” Palestinian deaths outnumber Israeli deaths by more than 10-to-1.

It used to be more like 20-to-1, but as Hezbollah’s successful raid on an Israeli army outpost showed, the militias are getting ever more “professional.” Ironically, attacks on purely military targets started the latest round of reciprocal atrocities in Gaza, Lebanon and Israel.

These facts contradict Israeli hardliners’ perennial claim that only massive retaliation can end terrorism. In reality, it sows hatred like dragon’s teeth. True, many Lebanese, Christians particularly, blame Hezbollah for giving Israel a pretext to demolish Beirut again. But they also think that the Israelis welcome excuses to kill Arabs. It’s hard to distinguish among Lebanon’s many ethnic and religious groups from 20,000 feet.

Remember the “Cedar Revolution”? How long ago were Bush loyalists enjoining us to hail the advent of democracy in Lebanon? Now we’re to applaud its destruction. Many of the same neo-conservative thinkers who sold President Simple on bringing democracy to Iraq now envision an even more grandiose project.

Writing in The Weekly Standard, the neo-conservative house organ, editor
William Kristol argues, “It’s Our War.”

“While Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. The right response is renewed strength—in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Ah, regime change! How’s that going in Iraq? In Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, masked attackers with machine guns mounted on pickups massacred more than 40 civilians at a crowded street market.

“They did not spare anyone,” an Iraqi policeman told The Washington Post. “Not the children. Not the elderly. The Iraqi army did not interfere.”

Neither did the American Army, which many Iraqis reportedly now bitterly call “the Jews.” U.S. commanders said they refrained from acting because Mahmudiyah is the responsibility of Iraqi forces, which requested no backup, allowing lunatics with machine guns to move about at will. The Post also reported that 628 people were killed in Baghdad last week, “a figure that far exceeded the numbers previously suggested by news reports.”

Since President Simple is famously averse to reading, somebody ought to put a world map in front of him before he signs off on World War III.
After all, a map’s a kind of picture. Check out your own Mercator projection: Attacking Syria and Iran would put the U.S. in the position of simultaneously fighting every nation between the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and the Himalayas.

To be blunt, that would be simply insane. The anvil, metaphorically speaking, would eventually break the hammer. If this crisis teaches us nothing else, it should be that our president is being advised by crazy people. As an Irish-American, it occurs to me that relative peace came to Northern Ireland only after most people on both sides of the border came to realize that the Irish Republican Army had become a Mafia style protection racket, while Rev. Ian Paisley’s Protestant followers were the moral equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan. The Arab-Israeli dispute is far more complicated and dangerous, but its essence is similar: two peoples claiming the same land; both right, both wrong; each captive to fanaticism, neither capable of getting all it wants, the very definition of tragedy. Americans have countenanced Israeli extremism far too long.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."

The Ugly Truth About the President

By Cenk Uygur,
Posted on July 19, 2006, Printed on July 19, 2006

You know it, I know it and the American people know it. But everyone is afraid to say it. They say it privately, but people are afraid of saying it publicly because you will be branded as a liberal, elite, intellectual snob. But believe me, you don't have to be an intellectual to see how painfully stupid our president is.

Just look at the conversation he is having with world leaders at the G-8 summit. Mikes picked up the casual talk between the world leaders. Forget that Bush appears to have three sandwiches in his mouth while talking. Forget that he calls out to the Prime Minister of Britain as if he is Flounder in "Animal House." Forget that he uses profanity. I don't give a shit about those things.

I thought it was ridiculous that people made fun of George H. W, Bush for vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister. What was he going to do? He had to puke, so he puked. It happens to the best of us, and more importantly, has nothing to do with his intelligence or how capable he is as a leader.

But his son's verbal vomit does have a lot to do with his ability to lead this country and the world. What I found to be the most damning is the least quoted part of Bush's comments. As you read this transcript, remember that this is not a small child talking, but the President of the United States of America:

The camera is focused elsewhere and it is not clear whom Bush is talking to, but possibly Chinese President Hu Jintao, a guest at the summit.

Bush: "Gotta go home. Got something to do tonight. Go to the airport, get on the airplane and go home. How about you? Where are you going? Home?

Bush: "This is your neighborhood. It doesn't take you long to get home. How long does it take you to get home?"

Reply is inaudible.

Bush: "Eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country."

At this point, the president seems to bring someone else into the conversation.

Bush: "It takes him eight hours to fly home."

He turns his attention to a server.

Bush: "No, Diet Coke, Diet Coke."

He turns back to whomever he was talking with.

Bush: "It takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China."

Russia's big and so is China??????? This guys sounds like a third grader. Do you know anyone who would have a conversation like this with their neighbor, let alone a business associate, let alone a world leader? Who's proud to know that Russia is big and so is China?

Can anyone now credibly claim that Bush is secretly working on a master plan behind the scenes and that he's just playing cowboy for the cameras? I hope the master plan doesn't involve figuring out how long it takes to get to China.

If someone is this ignorant, they're usually embarrassed and try not to talk much. But this guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is. This sounds like a conversation you might have with a child, a mentally challenged child. Johnny, do you know how big Russia is? How about China?

This would all be unfortunate if George was your dentist, or worse yet, your accountant. But he is the leader of the free world. This man makes life or death decisions every day. If you say you're not scared about that, you're lying.

Would you let him do the books for your business? Would you trust your company in his hands for eight years? (No matter how Republican you are, you know you just said no to that question.) Would you trust him to be your kids' guidance counselor and take his advice seriously? If your kids were in the Army and he was their field commander, would you feel good about putting their lives in his hands?

Come on, no one is crazy enough to say yes to that. Yet, he has all of our lives in his hands. The emperor has no clothes. The emperor has no clothes. It's about time someone in the mainstream media said it.

In the old empires, there would be a lot of marriages between the royal families. And from time to time, these inter-family marriages would produce a mentally challenged son who would inherit the throne. This would set the empire back for hundreds of years. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying. Russia is big and so is China.

The Democrats for a long time have felt embarrassed about pointing out the obvious. The emperor has no brain. This is what I can't understand about the Democrats, they're always playing patty cakes while the Republicans are ripping their face off. John Kerry should have stood at the lectern during the debates and pointed to George Bush and said, "The leader of this country has to be the best and the brightest. If any of you think that he is the best and the brightest America has to offer, go ahead and vote for him!"

The theory is that people would be turned off by that. The theory assumes that people are also idiots and they love their cohorts. That is simply not true. Everyone understands that they have a friend they'd like to go fishing with and a friend they can trust to look after their affairs - and they're not necessarily the same guy. And that your fishing buddy might not be a great choice for President of the United States of America.

Kerry should have embarrassed Bush, made people feel sorry for him. It would have hurt in the short run and given him a temporary downward blip in the numbers, but in the end, when people went into that voting booth, they would have felt pity for Bush - in that scenario, Kerry wins easily. Nobody votes for someone they pity.

Unfortunately, right now we are in the position of being pitied by the rest of the world. We have third grader for a President. And worse yet, the Vice President has him convinced he is the second coming of Winston Churchill. Scared yet?

Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide.

Ready for $3 a QUART Gasoline, America?

Nutcase Bush vs The Scientific and Medical community

Hillary Clinton celebrates Israeli war crimes

By Bill Van Auken, Socialist Equality Party candidate for US Senate from New York
19 July 2006

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The speech given by New York’s Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton to a rally staged by Zionist organizations Monday across from the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan amounted to a celebration of massacres and war crimes.

Her remarks left no doubt that a vote for Clinton in November is a vote not only to continue the US war in Iraq, but to expand and intensify the slaughter throughout the region.

Under conditions in which Israeli war planes, gunships and artillery are turning Lebanese bridges, highways, power plants and residential buildings into rubble while killing hundreds of civilians, Clinton made it clear that she not only supports the ongoing aggression that has been unleashed against the Palestinian and Lebanese people, but is quite prepared to back its escalation into a full scale war against Syria and Iran as well.

“We will support [Israel’s] efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iranians, to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom,” she told the crowd.

“Send a message” is such an innocuous phrase to describe mass murder and state terrorism. How is this message being sent? In southern Lebanon, Israeli planes dropped leaflets warning villagers that they should flee north for their lives. When they complied, a warplane attacked a column of refugees incinerating 18 people, most of them children. Then other planes demolished the main roads as well as all of the bridges over the Litani River, forcing many of the refugees to abandon their vehicles and continue their exodus on foot.

Homes, schools and even hospitals and ambulances have been targeted by Israeli bombs and missiles. On Sunday morning, an Israeli air strike took out an entire wing of the Jabel Amel hospital in Tyre, killing a family of nine, who had come there seeking aid after suffering a previous bombing of their apartment building.

Hundreds of Lebanese have been killed—nearly all civilians and most of them women and children. Many hundreds more have maimed in the bombings and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee, facing an increasingly catastrophic humanitarian crisis. What is involved is a massive act of “ethnic cleansing,” aimed at driving an entire population of impoverished Shiites out of southern Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military is simultaneously sending a similar “message” in Gaza, where bombings and artillery strikes have killed scores of civilians, wounded hundreds and left large parts of the crowded Palestinian territory in rubble. The Israeli siege has cut off power and water to the population, while, as in Lebanon, sealing it off from the outside world.

In both territories, Israel is carrying out massive and brutal acts of collective punishment against civilian populations, war crimes in the strictest sense of international law. Israeli military officials have openly proclaimed that their aim is to drive Gaza “back to the stone age” and in Lebanon to “turn the clock back 20 years”—to the days of brutal civil war.

“We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing up for American values as well as Israeli ones,” the New York Democrat proclaimed at the New York City rally.

Clinton’s remark constitutes a libel against the American people. The indiscriminate slaughter from the air of innocent children with the aim of terrorizing an entire population represents not the values of American working people, the vast majority of the population, but rather the perverse and criminal methods of ruling elites in both the US and Israel, which are determined to impose their imperialist diktat upon the entire Middle East, by whatever means necessary.

Whose “values” Clinton defends was demonstrated by her next public appearance after the pro-bombing rally at the UN—when she was the guest of honor at a campaign fundraising event sponsored by billionaire publisher Rupert Murdoch, whose right-wing media empire includes Fox News and the New York Post, two of the foulest spokesmen for the American ultra-right.

The reality is that both politicians and the media are systematically feeding lies to the American people about the escalating war in the Middle East, portraying the one-sided aggression against largely defenseless populations as a legitimate act of “self-defense.” No major newspaper or broadcast network provides a clear picture of the carnage that has been unleashed against the people of Lebanon.

Given the near universal portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim, one would hardly know that Lebanese casualties—nearly all civilian—outnumber those in Israel—half of whom are soldiers—by close to ten-to-one.

The claim made by Israel, and echoed by Clinton at the New York rally, that these massive military offensives are a response to the capture of three Israeli soldiers—one in Gaza and two in south Lebanon—is absurd on its face. These operations have been long planned, and the captured soldiers have merely been exploited as a pretext—much to the dismay of their families, who have called on the Israeli government to negotiate their release.

Clinton’s demagogic analogy

In one of the demagogic lines that won the biggest round of applause from the Zionist rally, Clinton declared: “I want us here in New York to imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?”

The analogy is a far-fetched one at best, but she should have continued: “Wouldn’t we bomb apartment buildings in Montreal, demolish Toronto’s international airport, incinerate entire Canadian families in their homes and on the highways, and turn the population of southern Ontario into refugees?”

Another border analogy, which more accurately captures the wildly disproportionate character of Israel’s response, would be: “Imagine if members of the right-wing Minutemen group opened fire on Mexican migrants preparing to cross the border and the government of Mexico responded with massive air raids against San Diego, Dallas and Houston, blew up the runways at New York’s JFK airport and sent hundreds of thousands of Americans fleeing north.”

Of course Mexico has no military means of carrying out such a response against its neighbor to the north, any more than the Palestinians in Gaza can launch such an assault on Israel every time IDF forces storm into their territory, killing civilians and abducting people who disappear into Israel’s prison system without ever being charged, much less tried. Nor has Lebanon the wherewithal to mount such an exercise in “self-defense” every time Israeli troops have crossed its border. Such self-righteous acts of massive military violence are reserved only for the most powerful gangsters in the region, Washington and Tel Aviv.

Speaking on the same platform with Hillary Clinton, Israel’s UN Ambassador, Dan Gillerman, gave voice to this gangsterism. Turning toward the UN building, he shouted, “Let us finish the job!” Then, addressing the timid criticisms of certain European governments, he declared, “And to those countries who claim we are using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: you’re damn right we are!”

This arrogant indifference to world public opinion and reveling in the use of brutal force are hallmarks of Israeli policy. Underlying them is the unconditional support provided by successive US governments and big business politicians like Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most slavish in her support for the positions of the Israeli right of any US political figure. According to figures released by the Federal Election Commission, she is the number-one recipient of campaign funds from the Israeli lobby in the 2005-2006 campaign cycle, far exceeding all other Democrats and Republicans alike.

Late last year, she made a trip to Israel for a photo opportunity next to the apartheid-style wall which Israel is using to grab more Palestinian territory and seal off thousands of people from their jobs, schools and farming lands. Endorsing the project, she proclaimed it was not “against the Palestinian people” but only “against terrorists.”

She has distinguished herself by attacking the Bush administration from the right on its policy towards Iran, largely echoing the positions of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is promoting a US war against the Iranians.

Clinton’s policies, however, are by no means unique. Both major parties have remained silent and indifferent toward the suffering of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, while fully endorsing Israel’s “right” to launch aggression against Lebanon and Gaza. Both houses of the US Congress are preparing resolutions making this position explicit.

Clinton and the Democrats, no less than Bush and the Republicans, have made a calculated, cold-blooded decision to allow the carnage in Lebanon and Gaza to continue and to oppose any serious effort to secure a cease-fire before Israel has achieved its military objectives.

In running against Hillary Clinton for Senate, I categorically reject her support for Israeli militarism and expansionism. I call for the immediate cut-off of all US aid to the Israeli military machine, which today receives some $3 billion annually—one fifth of Washington’s total foreign aid spending, for a country that represents little more than one-one-thousandth of the world’s population.

This enormous expenditure of US funds to arm Israel has the same aim as the illegal war and occupation in Iraq. It is not to “defend democracy” or “defeat terrorism,” but rather to secure US domination of the Middle East and its strategic oil reserves and project American economic and military power throughout the region.

Against Clinton’s support for the continued occupation of Iraq, the Socialist Equality Party is demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from the country. It likewise calls for holding all those responsible for dragging the American people into this war based upon lies to be held responsible, both politically and criminally.

Neither the struggle to end the war in Iraq, nor the fight against Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, can be advanced through appeals to the United Nations or the “international community,” both of which have proven impotent before the eruption of US and Israeli militarism.

Rather, these struggles against imperialist war can be advanced only through the independent political mobilization of working people. Despite the opposition of the majority of the American population to the continuation of the Iraq war, the demand for the withdrawal of US troops finds no significant expression within either major party. The only way forward lies through a decisive break with the Democratic Party and the building of a new independent political party of the working class.

At the same time, the fight against war requires a struggle for the international unity of the working class, including a struggle to unite Jewish and Arab workers in Israel and the Arab countries in the struggle to free the region of the domination of imperialism and the local ruling classes—Arab bourgeois and Zionist alike—and develop its considerable resources for the benefit of all.

It is to further these aims that the Socialist Equality Party is intervening in the 2006 election. I urge all those who oppose the escalation of US and Israeli militarism in the Middle East and the growing threat of a wider war to support our campaign and to help place the candidates of the SEP on the ballot.

See Also:
Hillary Clinton and New York's gay marriage ruling: a calculated bow to the right
[15 July 2006]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Huffington Post:

Bill Clinton: Dems Shouldn't Be Divided By Differences Over Iraq

Two things happened in the last few days that could have a lasting effect on the future direction -- and electoral success -- of the Democratic Party. One drew a ton of attention; the other, despite being far more significant, somehow fell through the mainstream media cracks.

The headline grabber was, of course, Joe "Greater Loyalties" Lieberman filing papers to form a new party called Connecticut for Lieberman, just in case this whole letting-Democratic-primary-voters-decide thing doesn't work out in August.

Cue Simon & Garfunkel: "Where have you gone, Joe Lieberman, a Party turns its disgusted eyes to you. Woo woo woo. What's that you say, Mrs. Boxer, Boltin' Joe has left and gone away? Hey, hey, hey."

Lieberman's desperate move only serves to highlight what went underreported: Bill Clinton saying on Friday that Democrats (username: huffpo) "ought to be whipped if we allow our differences over what to do now over Iraq divide us." Is he serious? He makes it sound as if the debate over the war is petty squabbling on the level of whether one should wear white after Labor Day.

There is no way a politician as savvy as Bill Clinton could be this clueless about just how seismic a division Iraq is for Democrats, so I can only assume it was the guilt talking -- the former president trying to make up for the wrong-headed advice he's been giving Hillary about adopting a Bush-lite, "centrist" stance on the war. A stance that means she has to keep assuming, in the face of all evidence, that everything will turn out okay in Iraq -- an assumption that with each passing car bomb explosion and sectarian massacre becomes more and more divorced from reality and puts Hillary, and all those who agree with her, on the wrong side of history.

Just since Monday, we've had the video of our mutilated soldiers posted on the web, and the Iraqi government, responding to the outcry over the Mahmudiya rape-murder case, calling for an end to immunity from local law for U.S. troops. The truth about Iraq couldn't be clearer: our troops are being asked to handle a mission they weren't trained for, leading to horrific acts like those in Haditha and Mahmudiya, followed by horrific acts of revenge and reprisal -- an escalating cycle of violence that makes support for the war all the more indefensible. No wonder Bill Clinton doesn't want Dems making a big deal over their differences on Iraq. He'd rather bury his head in the bloody sands of Baghdad.

I find it amazing that Clinton's comments on Iraq didn't cause more of an uproar. Indeed, they were nowhere to be found in the mainstream press, relegated to a single paragraph in a story in the Aspen Daily News.

If you want a better understanding of the importance of Democratic differences over the war, just look at what happened in 1968. The presidential campaign was all about the battle over how to deal with Vietnam. In the Democratic primaries, first Eugene McCarthy and then Bobby Kennedy took courageous stands against LBJ's prosecution of the war, eventually leading Johnson to announce he would not seek re-election and causing a massive rift in the party. Before RFK was gunned down following his victory in the California primary, the race was shaping up to be a showdown between the anti-war Kennedy and Vice President Humphrey, who was standing behind Johnson's handling of Vietnam.

Can you imagine someone in 1968 telling Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey that they "ought to be whipped" for fighting over their views on Vietnam?

In the end, Kennedy was assassinated, and Humphrey (backed by the party bosses) prevailed over McCarthy to win the nomination. In the general election campaign against Nixon, Humphrey continued to defend the war, alienating the Democratic base and prompting anti-war protests at almost all of his campaign appearances. Five weeks before the election, trailing Nixon badly in the polls, Humphrey finally made a speech distancing himself from Johnson and calling for an end to the U.S. bombing in Vietnam. The move turned his campaign around -- but not in time to overtake Nixon. There is speculation that if Humphrey had come out against the bombing even one week earlier, he might have prevailed.

So, 40 years later, the question becomes: will Hillary be the Humphrey of 2008?

One thing is certain: papering over Democratic differences on Iraq is no longer possible. Let Democrats fight it out and choose. And, if they want to be a majority party again, let's hope they choose to reject the Hillary-Lieberman-Humphrey war-apologist wing of the party, and take a decisive stand on Iraq.

Bill Clinton can't be allowed to whip the party into submission.