Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Apparently Iraq is not a Quagmire

My good friend Jonathan over at Irregular Times offers an excellent answer to the question:Has Iraq become a quagmire for the US?:
Quagmire: area of land with soft, sticky, muddy surface.

So you see, the United States is not in a quagmire in Iraq. Most areas of the nation are quite dry.
You can always count on Jonathan for a good laugh.

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Those "Bumps in the Road" are Iraqi dead

Christopher over at Back to Iraq has recently returned to Iraq and writes about the Bumps in the Road:
Since returning, it feels like I'm listening to the same record I've been listening to for a year, only with the volume turned up. Donald Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense, says U.S. is winning the war and that the media are focusing too much on bad news.

...
“We have to recognize that it's a tough, tough, tough world, and there are going to be bumps in the road between now and then." - Donald Rumsfeld
...

I can't even begin to tell you how many Iraqis have been killed in the weeks I was away. And how many more Iraqis, journalists or otherwise, will die because the Americans can't tell who's friend or foe? Those aren't “bumps in the road.” Those are signs that you went off the road without a map a long time ago.

Where do you even begin combatting the head-in-the-sandism, brazen propaganda and revisionism of the above release. (By the way, it's about the fourth or fifth one I've received in the last few days touting the same theme, apparently in concert with President Bush's push to let Americans know that everything is going hunky-dory.)

News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it.
The administration is a broken record. Their only Iraq plan is to endlessly repeat their message of the moment in the hopes that they can convince the world.

I think I'll try that method and see how it goes...

There's a unicorn in my garden, there's a unicorn in my garden, a unicorn in my garden, a unicorn in my garden...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hey, I'm in the iTunes Music Store!

Itunes
Neat! The new iTunes was released today and for those that have not heard it includes new podcasting support. I'm not sure how they choose who is included but my podcast is in there. Sweet. Of course, this means I'll need to get off my lazy ass and put together some current shows.

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Podcast: Natural Landscaping and Fossil Fuels

A bit of discussion on my usual topics of interest: Apple's release of iTunes 4.9, natural landscaping with native plants, activism (or lack thereof), war, Iraq, and an oil-based economy. In many ways this is podcast summary of my recent posts here which makes sense because these are the things that I think about.

Links mentioned in the podcast:
Peak Oil.com
Peak Oil.org

On a technical note I've added podcasts to my Feedburner RSS so you can subscribe there as well. I think you'll get a more accurate reading of the mp3 tags of the podcast that way.

Update: Again, on a technical note, I've updated my regular podcast feed, link below and on the sidebar. Finally, this is what I've needed to do. If you subscribe to that in your RSS reader you'll get a much better description of the show. The old version, based on dircaster.php, does not play well with ID3 v2.2 tags with the result being no real description of my podcast on sites such as audio.weblogs.com. So, it's improved now. Sweet.

littlepod.jpg More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 19'18, 3.6 MB.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Of Futility and Chickens Roosting

Jonathan over at Irregular Times asks What Else Is There To Say?

You know, I find myself here, sifting through the news, through government data releases, through the latest polls, through legislative records, and I cannot bring myself to write a thing about them.

What’s the point? It’s not as though the failings of Republican politicians, corporate America and fundamentalist conservative Christians have not been extensively documented, over and over again. The reaction to such documentation is outrage on the part of those who are already outraged, and dismissal by those who sympathize with the Republican-corporate-fundamentalist axis. Then there’s a little squabble between the sides as neither side can possibly understand how the other side can think the way it does. And then we move on to the next disclosure of Republican/corporate/fundamentalist wrongdoing.

If you aren’t already outraged, then you’re either in denial or you aren’t paying attention. Why do we need one more example of what’s wrong with right-wing America? If you aren’t already outraged by now, what would it take? Why do we need another blog post when it’s all been said?

I’m sure I’ll feel better about this tomorrow. But today, I can’t help feel as though these efforts are futile.

I know I've often felt this futility and outrage but look, I'm an anarchist not a liberal. You see, I feel no allegiance to any government or religion and the truth is I consider the U.S. an enemy of liberty and freedom. I think the evidence is clear that for many, many years U.S. policies, domestic and foreign, have served a very small group of people. As much as I'd welcome the impeachment of the current administration and their imprisonment for war crimes the truth is that they are just a part of a larger problem.

The American people have given up responsibility and any real vision of democracy. My own family are a good example. I love them and they are "good" people but they are terrible citizens and excellent consumers. Do they know anything about the oil that they pump into their SUV or full size pick-up trucks? No. What about the oil that forms the base of all the plastic shit they buy at Target, Walmart, and the Dollar General? No. They are fantastically ignorant of the planet's oil reserves as well as who currently supplies them the fix that they need. Do they connect the dots between their lifestyle and war in Iraq? Sure it's easy to bitch about Bush but is that an SUV in your driveway?

In my relatively limited experience my fellow citizens have sacrificed citizenship. Instead they identify themselves with the consumer side of the American Dream. Seems to me that there was a major political and cultural shift in this country at the end of World War II. I wasn't alive when it happened but it seems pretty obvious at this point. The boys came home and the U.S. became a world super power. People got comfortable, they raised families and embraced suburbia. Politics and an engaged, active citizenry became an endangered species. That culture is solidly intact today.

I think this culture and this country are at the beginning of a huge fall that will come in many different forms. The chickens have come home to roost and folks, we have nothing to cry about. We did this to ourselves. As an anarchist, I welcome the mess America has gotten itself into because it seems more evident with each passing day that this empire is about to crumble and with it global capitalism. As George would say, Bring it on.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Last throes indeed

Dick Cheney is one of two things. A complete moron or a lying, manipulative scumbag. I'm fairly certain it is the latter.

Way to go America. I've stayed away from verbalizing comparisons to Vietnam because that is too easy. But the truth is I've thought about it many times. This is only going to get worse folks.

Juan Cole offers a round up of the latest violence in Iraq: Mosul Police Station blown Up, many Dead 31 Killed...:
Mosul: A suicide bomber detonated his payload at the central police station in Mosul on Sunday morning, bringing down part of the wall and killing at least 5 persons, 4 of them officers. At least 7 were wounded. The rubble was still being searched Sunday mid-morning Baghdad time.

On Saturday, wire services report, , "a suicide attacker rammed his vehicle into an Iraqi police patrol on a bridge in southwest Mosul, killing at least five and wounding two . . ." This attack aimed at killing the provincial chief of police, but he was not in the convoy.

Tel Afar In the northern, Turkmen city of Tel Afar, Reuters reports, "Residents and officials at Tal Afar . . . where U.S. troops have cracked down this month, said three bomb attacks were followed by a battle involving U.S. tanks and helicopters that lasted about three hours. Hospital officials said at least two civilians were killed."

Samarra: The Associated Press reports that on Saturday, a suicide bomber targeting the home of a special forces police officer instead killed 9 persons on the street.

Ramadi: On Friday, 20 guerrillas captured 8 policemen at a checkpoint near the city, took them to their offices, and mowed them down with gunfire.

Baghdad: On Sunday morning, guerrillas assassinated Col. Riyad Abdul Karim, the deputy head of one of Baghdad's main police departments.

Guerillas fired three mortar rounds at a thronging cafe in a mostly Shiite district of western Baghdad Saturday evening. They killed 5 civilians and wounded 7.

Guerrillas killed two police commandos patrolling West Baghdad on Saturday. Another policeman was found assassinated.

Amara: Guerrillas assassinated three policemen 46 miles south of Amara on Saturday.

Kirkuk: On Saturday, three Iraqi policemen were killed in Kirkuk, along with two Kurdish truck drivers delivering cement to the Americans

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Garden Happenings

DSC01713.JPG
I'm happy to report that momma deer and 2 fawns are now hanging about every day. Adorable! Also, just out of the nest Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been enjoying our flowers. In other bird news at least one pair of Gold Finches have been visiting our flowers every day to eat seeds. Earlier in the week I found a very young (2" across) box turtle in the prairie garden. Lastly the Gray Tree Frog tadpoles are getting bigger and will be leaving the pond soon!

What's in bloom: Bee Balm, Purple Cone Flowers, Purple Poppy Mallow, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Yellow Cone Flowers, Pale Purple Cone Flowers, and Prairie Coreopsis. The image is what we see looking out of our home-office window. We can hardly even see the pond at this point thanks to the beautiful Bee Balm.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Impeachable Offenses

I think I'll be taking a brief break from impeach Bush posts this week. As much as I'd like to see that happen this is not the "Impeach Bush Blog". Truth is, and this is plain as day at this point, the problem goes far deeper than war criminals such as Bush and Cheney. The problem is an entire society which has given away its responsibilities to, and desire for, democracy and liberty. On a whole it seems we are more concerned with being the obedient consumers and workers that multinational corporations want us to be. As long as we fail to take on the role of assertive, engaged citizens we will continue to play the role of easily manipulated and bribed consumers. George and his fellow war criminals would have us all be war criminals in our ignorance and complacency. This is the structural deficiency of a "democratic" republic that was never meant to be "of the people, by the people, for the people".

John Bonifaz is the attorney who, in February and March 2003, served as lead counsel for a coalition of US soldiers, parents of US soldiers, and Members of Congress in a federal lawsuit challenging the authority of President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld to launch a war against Iraq absent a congressional declaration of war or equivalent action.
Impeachable Offenses by John Bonifaz

President George W. Bush "whose own election was dubious" has seized monarchical powers in sending this nation into war without any legitimate congressional declaration of war or equivalent congressional action. He has lied to the United States Congress and to the American people about the rationale for the war. He has imprisoned American citizens without charges and denied them access to lawyers and the courts. He has thus trampled on the United States Constitution and he has violated his oath of office.

This nation is at a crossroads. These are not simply issues to be debated in a presidential election. These are "high crimes" in the most profound meaning of the phrase, and they require the most serious of legal responses.

Our Constitution lays out a specific process for addressing high crimes committed by a president: impeachment. The time has come for Congress to investigate these crimes and begin impeachment proceedings. Our loyalty to our Constitution requires nothing less.

Marches, like those held on March 20, 2004, which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters, are important, but they are not enough. Petitions, like those initiated by MoveOn.org and its allies, calling for censure of the president are important, but they are not enough. Voter mobilization campaigns focused on defeating George W. Bush on Election Day are important, but they are not enough.

Impeachment is essential because George W. Bush should be labeled for who he is: A president who has gone beyond the bounds of the Constitution, who has defied the rule of law, and who therefore deserves the ultimate constitutional punishment.

Former President Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. But no one died as a result of the Monica Lewinsky affair. President Bush has sent this nation into an illegal war based on lies, resulting in the deaths thus far of more than 1,500 United States soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. This war has no end in sight, and officials warn that U.S. troops could be there, fighting and dying, for 10 years or more.

Where is the political accountability? Where is the constitutional consistency? Where are the voices of our nation's leaders calling for the investigation of impeachable offenses?

If we believe in the Constitution and its timeless vision of democracy, we must now stand up and call for impeachment. History will judge us for how we responded when faced with a president who would be king. Did we rely on the badly flawed election process to set us free? Or did we demand, as the Constitution provides, the removal of that president from power? Did we speak the truth and charge that president with the highest of crimes?

We cannot afford to provide immunity for presidential high crimes so long as they are committed (or fully revealed). We must hold the president accountable for high crimes at any point in his or her term.

No president in our history has presented a greater threat to our Constitution and our democracy than George W. Bush. If we fail to place the proper charges of high crimes on this president, we invite him to engage in further lawlessness, further illegal war-making, further lies and further unnecessary bloodshed"now, or even more so in a second term. If we fail to protect the Constitution today, we invite its shredding tomorrow by an administration with even less regard for the Constitution than the present one.

Is lying to the United States Congress and the American people about the reasons for sending the nation into war an impeachable offense? Is violating the War Powers Clause of the Constitution by launching a unilateral first-strike invasion of another nation without congressional authorization an impeachable offense? Congress must debate these questions now. Congress may be in Republican hands, but all of its members swore to uphold the Constitution when taking office.

There are two roads in front of us. One takes us toward tyranny behind the mask of wartime necessity. The other returns us to our basic democratic principles where the Constitution is supreme and where no one, not even the president, is above the law.

We call upon Americans of all political persuasions to join the call for impeachment. We ask you to call or write your Member of Congress to urge him or her to introduce articles of impeachment. We also encourage you to sign a petition at www.impeachcentral.com, to send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, and to forward this article to all of your friends. Raise your voice now, at this critical moment.

Let us take the road back to democracy. Let us demand our country back from a lawless and unaccountable administration. Let us honor the oath this president has betrayed: to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

(This article was first printed in Tom Paine, on the 31st of March, 2004. It is still current and actionable... the only new information we have now is the Downing Street Minutes.)
STATEMENT BY JOHN C. BONIFAZ
CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY AND CO-FOUNDER
AFTERDOWNINGSTREET.ORG

BEFORE THE CONGRESSIONAL FORUM

ON THE DOWNING STREET MINUTES

THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2005

Congressman Conyers and Members of the Committee: Thank you for hosting this congressional forum today and thank you for your leadership.

My name is John Bonifaz. I am a Boston-based attorney specializing in constitutional litigation and the co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org. AfterDowningStreet.org is a national coalition of veterans groups, peace groups, public interest organizations and ordinary citizens across this country calling for a formal congressional investigation into whether the President of the United States has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. We launched this campaign on May 26 of this year in response to the revelations which have emerged from the release of the Downing Street Minutes.

The recent release of the Downing Street Minutes provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution: "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

The Downing Street MinutesOn May 1, 2005, The Sunday Times of London published the Downing Street Minutes. The document, marked "Secret and strictly personal - UK eyes only," consists of the official minutes of a briefing by Richard Dearlove, then-director of Britain's CIA equivalent, MI-6, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials. Dearlove, having just returned from meetings with high U.S. Government officials in Washington, reported to Blair and members of his Cabinet on the Bush administration's plans to start a preemptive war against Iraq.

The briefing occurred on July 23, 2002, months before President Bush submitted his resolution on Iraq to the United States Congress and months before Bush and Blair asked the United Nations to resume its inspections for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The document reveals that, by the summer of 2002, President Bush had decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by launching a war which, Dearlove reports, would be "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]." Dearlove continues: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Dearlove also states that "[t]here was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw states that "[i]t seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided." "But," he continues, "the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, and Iran."

British officials do not dispute the document's authenticity, and, on May 6, 2005, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported that "[a] former senior U.S. official called [the document] `an absolutely accurate description of what transpired' during the senior British intelligence officer's visit to Washington." "Memo: Bush made intel fit Iraq policy," The State, Knight Ridder Newspapers, May 6, 2005.

Why a Resolution of Inquiry is Justified

On May 5, 2005, you and 88 other Members of Congress submitted a letter to President Bush, asking the President to answer several questions arising from the Downing Street Minutes. On May 17, 2005, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that the White House saw "no need" to respond to the letter. "British Memo on U.S. Plans for Iraq War Fuels Critics," The New York Times, May 20, 2005, A8. The letter has since been joined by other Members of Congress and by more than half a million people across the country.

The Framers of the United States Constitution drafted Article II, Section 4 to ensure that the people of the United States, through their representatives in the United States Congress, could hold a President accountable for an abuse of power and an abuse of the public trust. James Madison, speaking at Virginia's ratification convention stated: "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution." Alexander Hamilton, writing in The Federalist, stated that impeachment is for "the misconduct of public men...from the abuse or violation of some public trust." James Iredell, who later became a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated at North Carolina's ratification convention:

The President must certainly be punishable for giving false information to the Senate. He is to regulate all intercourse with foreign powers, and it is his duty to impart to the Senate every material intelligence he receives. If it should appear that he has not given them full information, but has concealed important intelligence which he ought to have communicated, and by that means induced them to enter into measures injurious to their country, and which they would not have consented to had the true state of things been disclosed to them, - in this case, I ask whether, upon an impeachment for a misdemeanor upon such an account, the Senate would probably favor him.

On July 25, 1974, then-Representative Barbara Jordan spoke to her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the constitutional basis for impeachment. "The powers relating to impeachment," Jordan said, "are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the Executive."

Impeachment, said Barbara Jordan, is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to `bridle' the Executive if he engages in excesses. It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men. The framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the Executive.

The question must now be asked, with the release of the Downing Street Minutes, whether the President has committed impeachable offenses. Is it a High Crime to engage in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for taking the nation into war? Is it a High Crime to manipulate intelligence so as to allege falsely a national security threat posed to the United States as a means of trying to justify a war against another nation based on "preemptive" purposes? Is it a High Crime to commit a felony via the submission of an official report to the United States Congress falsifying the reasons for launching military action?

In his book Worse Than Watergate (Little, Brown and Company-NY, 2004), John W. Dean writes that "the evidence is overwhelming, certainly sufficient for a prima facie case, that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have engaged in deceit and deception over going to war in Iraq. This is an impeachable offense." Id. at 155. Dean focuses, in particular, on a formal letter and report which the President submitted to the United States Congress within forty-eight hours after having launched the invasion of Iraq. In the letter, dated March 18, 2003, the President makes a formal determination, as required by the Joint Resolution on Iraq passed by the U.S. Congress in October 2002, that military action against Iraq was necessary to "protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq..." Dean states that the report accompanying the letter "is closer to a blatant fraud than to a fulfillment of the president's constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the law." Worse Than Watergate at 148.

If the evidence revealed by the Downing Street Minutes is true, then the President's submission of his March 18, 2003 letter and report to the United States Congress would violate federal criminal law, including: the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, which makes it a felony "to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose..."; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress.

The United States House of Representatives has a constitutional duty to investigate fully and comprehensively the evidence revealed by the Downing Street Minutes and other related evidence and to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach George W. Bush, the President of the United States. A Resolution of Inquiry is the appropriate first step in launching this investigation.

Conclusion

The Iraq war has led to the deaths of more than 1,700 United States soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Thousands more have been permanently and severely injured on both sides. More than two years after the invasion, Iraq remains unstable and its future unclear. The war has already cost the American people tens of billions of taxpayer dollars at the expense of basic human needs here at home. More than 135,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq without any stated exit plan.

If the President has committed High Crimes in connection with this war, he must be held accountable. The United States Constitution demands no less.

Link

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Tom Dispatch and Mark Danner on the Downing Street Memo

TomDispatch has a posted an excellent introduction to, and reprint of, Mark Danner's coverage of the Downing Street Memo and the resulting non-coverage and bias of the corporate media. This is a must read for anyone interested in the DSM as well as the corporate media cover-up and obedience to state dictates. Seriously, a must read.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

No more delays: Resolution of Inquiry

Kevin Zeese and Ralph Nader write about The Growing Case for a Resolution of Inquiry:

Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution: "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

It is becoming more evident that an impeachment inquiry is needed to determine whether the United States was plunged into war with Iraq based on manipulated intelligence and false information. Thus far the President and Vice President have artfully dodged the central question: "Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's involvement with Al Qaeda terrorism and the danger Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"

With the release of the Downing Street Memo, the findings of the Iraq Commission and a review of intelligence findings prior to the invasion of Iraq a strong case can be made for taking the first step toward impeachment - a Resolution of Inquiry - beginning a formal inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives as to whether the President and Vice President should be impeached.

Quite frankly I think it was fucking evident over two years ago. Impeach them and then try them for war crimes.

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Conyers Pushing the Downing Street Memo Today

Holy cow, CNN, via AP, is actually covering today's public hearing:

Bush should respond to questions raised by the Downing Street memo, says a letter signed by Conyers and over 90 other members of Congress, as well as a half-million Americans.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the memo on Thursday and indicated that no one in the White House plans to respond to the letter.

"This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed," he said.

Ha. Scott McCLellan, you mother fucker, I hope you go to jail to for your role in delivering all the lies. In any case, CNN has hardly touched the matter. I've been watching (the cable version) for the past 30 minutes and not a single mention yet. On the "Headline News" version of CNN they did have some very important coverage of a California police chase though so I think we can forgive them! I think we can all agree that the Downing Street Memo and other evidence regarding impeachable offenses committed by the current U.S. President are trivial when compared to car chases!

Fucktards. U.S. corporate media, a pack of sniveling liars and idiots.

In any case, William Rivers Pitt live blogged the event so I thought I'd post a few nuggets:
Comes now Ray McGovern

Starting with a videoclip: Powell saying in Feb. 2001 that Hussein had no WMD and was no threat, and then Condi in July 2001 saying exactly the same thing.
Boom. Devastating. “Reflect on that,” says McGovern.
“After 9/11, the story abruptly changed. Suddenly, Iraq had all manner of weapons and posed an immediate threat. How do you explain that? The Downing Street Minutes.”
Thanking the man who made these documents available.

Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

“The anatomy of a lie.”
Running the chronology, starting in August 2002, which was just 10 weeks after Bush and Blair decided to go to war, Cheney begins the ramp-up about WMD in Iraq. “This was a lie.” Weapons were destroyed in 1991.
This is a devastating presentation. I am barely able to keep up. Watch the rebroadcast of this.

Nailing Cheney for going to CIA headquarters

to fix the intelligence and lean on the analysts. As a CIA guy, McGovern is voicing his outrage over the “deliberate subversion” of the oath to protect and defend the constiotution.
“We’re not talking about Georgetown parlor games here. These are consequential, death-dealing lies.” Mocking Bush for pretending to look for WMD at the Correspondent’s Dinner. Sheehan’s son was killed 11 days “after that big joke.”
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Thanks to the Downing Street Minutes, we now know the truth. Will we have the courage to pursue the purveyors of consequential falsehoods?”
I hope so.


Impeachment talk

in the Capitol Building. Now bringing up Watergate, and Rep. Barbara Jordan’s words from 1974. “It is designed to bridle the Executive if he engages in excesses.”
“The question must now be asked: Whether the President has committed impeachable offenses. Is it a high crime?”
Lie to the people, manipulate intelligence, commit felony via submission of false report to Congress justifying military action - impeachable offenses?
Hammering on that last one, March 18 2003 letter to Congress, formal declaration, “Military action against Iraq necessary to protect the nation…Military action was consistent with US actions against terrorism, including against nations that planned and aided 9/11.”
If DSM is true, Bush’s 3/18 letter to Congress violates several federal laws, several felonies.

House has constitutional duty…
…to investigate this matter and consider impeachment. A Resolution of Inquiry is required.”
“If the President has committed High Crimes in this matter, he must be held accountable. The constitution requires no less.”


Maxine Waters speaking now
Asking McGovern about Cheney visits to CIA, several visits, to lean on the analysts. Talking about the Halliburton no-bid contracts. “This Vice President appears to be more than arrogant. He appears not to be concerned about what the American people think.”
Many of us believe there was a manipulation on intelligence. Please elaborate on Cheney visits to CIA and the manipulation of intelligence.

McGovern: Cheney visit to CIA unprecedented. In my 27 years did a sitting VP come to CIA headquarters. Cheney went between 8 and 12 times. Put yourself in the position of a young analyst trying to find the truth. Now comes Cheney, along with Tenet (who should have been protecting his people from stuff like this). Terrible pressure on the analysts. “Management of CIA has been so corrupted and politicized, I wonder if they can come up with an objective view about anything, given the pressure from the White House to hear what it wanted to hear.”

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In Support of a Resolution of Inquiry

Excellent: After Downing Street Dot Org - In Support of a Resolution of Inquiry.

I'm watching John Bonifaz, founder of the above site, on CSpan's replay of today's meeting on the DSM. Damn.... damn, damn. I'm glad this guy is on our side. Damn.

Update: I wanted to add a link to John Conyers Letter to Bush.
Conyers at the gate
Update 2: Wanted to add this photo of Rep. John Conyers delivering petitions to an unidentified aide at gate of the White House Thursday. Interesting photo... "the people" at the gate, the President hiding behind it. Perhaps I'm naive, perhaps I'm just being hopeful, but today seems to be a turning point. Of course impeachment should be just the tip of the iceberg. The majority of Congress and the corporate media happily went along for the ride and will continue to ignore and misdirect the public. As far as I'm concerned many of these supporting actors need to be removed of their jobs. CNN and FOX should have their corporate charters revoked.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

The International Criminal Court and Blair/Bush

Over at Informed Comment you'll find excellent commentary by Amy Ross regarding the ICC and Blair/Bush:

"Regarding accountability and the ICC: It does seem that the Blair administration was much more cognizant of the potential conflict with the ICC. Indeed the prominent British human rights lawyer Cherie Booth (aka Mrs. Blair) wrote in an essay on the ICC in 2003 that "...it is of singular importance to note that no one-- not even a serving head of state --will be able to claim immunity from the jurisdiction of the Court." (in "from Nuremberg to The Hague: The Future of International Criminal Justice," Philippe Sands editor.)

Britain's House of Lords had previously asserted in the Pinochet case (1998) the lack of immunity for certain crimes under international law: the judges stressed that
accountability was ESPECIALLY important for state figures.

...

I do believe that Bush and other high-level administration officials will face a court someday, but I think it will be after 2009, and probably in a national court such as Brussels or Madrid (exercising universal jurisdiction) rather than the
ICC. . .

Re: the ICC and complementarity. In theory, since the British have a functioning judiciary, capable of handling investigations and prosecutions, the ICC can refrain from issuing an indictment of Blair EVEN IF there is evidence of crimes within its jurisdiction. The same should be true regarding the United States, even though the US is not a party to the treaty. As long as the US, (and Britian and Australia and Italy) demonstrates competency in regard to prosecuting and punishing crimes of international concern, the ICC is supposed to stay out of the way. However: if the US fails to investigate/prosecute (proves to be unable or unwilling') than the ICC, and foreign courts, can assert jurisdiction. That's why it is so important that we demand an investigation of Bush, now. If such a move is blocked, that opens up possiblities (later) in international arenas.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Downing Street Memo Resource Site

For those that want to know more, there is a site dedicated to The Downing Street Memo:
The Downing Street "Memo" is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002—a full eight months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. The Times of London printed the text of this document on Sunday, May 1, 2005, but to date US media coverage has been limited. This site is intended to act as a resource for anyone who wants to understand the facts revealed in this document.

The contents of the memo are shocking. The minutes detail how our government did not believe Iraq was a greater threat than other nations; how intelligence was "fixed" to sell the case for war to the American public; and how the Bush Administration’s public assurances of "war as a last resort" were at odds with their privately stated intentions.

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Bush and Blair War Games

Slowly the truth claws its way out of the deeply dug grave.

Juan Cole has an interesting post regarding yet another Bush/Blair/Iraq document being reported on by the London Times.
Bush and Blair Committed to War in April, 2002
Leaked Cabinet Briefing Shows British Knew War was Illegal

The London Times has dropped another bombshell document concerning the planning of the Iraq war in Washington and London.

The leaked Cabinet office briefing paper for the July 23, 2002, meeting of principals in London, the minutes of which have become notorious as the Downing Street Memo, contains key context for that memo. The briefing paper warns the British cabinet in essence that they are facing jail time because Blair promised Bush at Crawford in April, 2002, that he would go to war against Iraq with the Americans.

As Michael Smith reports for the London Times, "regime change" is illegal in international law without a United Nations Security Council resolution or other recognized sanction (national self-defense, or rescuing a population from genocide, e.g.). Since the United Kingdom is signatory to the International Criminal Court, British officials could be brought up on charges for crimes like "Aggression."

Smith quotes the briefing and then remarks on how it shows Bush and Blair to be lying when they invoke their approach to the UN as proof that they sought a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis...

...

The Cabinet briefing makes crystal clear that Blair had cast his lot in with Bush on an elective war against Iraq already in April, 2002:
"2. When the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion, the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted."
This passage is unambiguous and refutes the weird suggestion by Michael Kinsley that the Downing Street Memo did not establish that the Bush administration had committed to war by July, 2002.

...

The cabinet briefing, like Lord Goldsmith, is skeptical that any of the three legal grounds for war existed with regard to Iraq. Iraq was not an imminent threat to the US or the UK. Saddam's regime was brutal, but its major killing sprees were in the past in 2002. And, the UNSC had not authorized a war against Iraq.

...

I found the passage on the information campaign chilling:
"20. Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein. There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of Parliament. An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic World and the wider international community. This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action. "
The polite diplomatic language hides the implications that there would be a global black psy-ops campaign in favor of the war, conducted from London. Since the rest of the briefing already admits that there was no legal justification for action, the proposal of an information campaign that would maintain that such a justification existed must be seen as deeply dishonest.

"Time will be required to prepare public opinion..." You have to love the way "democracy" works in the U.S. and U.K. What is absolutely absurd is the extent to which such psy-ops campaigns work on the public mind. The majority or near majority were very effectively manipulated and even today, as evidence of Bush/Blair web of lies becomes increasingly obvious, we see that their propaganda machine continues to distract, distort, and confuse the public.

Of course CNN and other major media outlets continue to ignore the details that form the infrastructure of lies used to create the war. Instead they devote a majority of their "news" coverage to distractions such as Michael Jackson and religious images seen in potato chips. Hint: something is very, very rotten in media-land.

Of course many of us know this and folks far more intelligent than I have written about the corporate media and its primary role in the state propaganda machine.

Update: The Washington Post has also posted a story on this. Better late than never I suppose. Let's see if those dip shits at CNN or any of the other mainstream media cover it... and by cover it I mean really cover it. I won't be holding my breath.

Update 2: As of this moment, here are the headlines on CNN.com... note, the only mention of the memo is that of an AP story that focuses on British doubt of the U.S. postwar plan. The most important content is virtually ignored.

Top headlines:
• 20 bodies found buried near Baghdad
• Report: British doubted U.S. postwar plan
• French journalist freed
• Philadelphia house fire kills 5 children | Video
• Syria rejects hit-list accusations
• Aruba judge keeps 3 young suspects in jail | Video | Map
• Dean renews attacks on Republicans | Video
• Bombs blasts ahead of Iranian election
• Mother feared family dog would attack son | Video
• SI.com: Tyson's career likely over after loss
• Pink Floyd reuniting for Live 8

U.S. headlines:
• Arlene makes landfall
• Rice performs to help ailing singer
• Men take to trees for competition

World headlines:
• French journalist freed in Iraq
• Blair seeks support for G8 plans
• Four executed by Palestinian Authority

Politics headlines:
• Bush argues for Patriot Act
• Bush to promote domestic policies

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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Casualties in Iraq

U.S. Military Deaths
First 14 months: 740
Second 14 months: 958
Source

U.S. Military Wounded
Official: 12,762
Est: 15,000 - 38,000
Source

Iraqi Civilian Deaths

22,191 - 25,178
"We are not a news organization ourselves and like everyone else can only base our information on what has been reported so far. What we are attempting to provide is a credible compilation of civilian deaths that have been reported by recognized sources. Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war." --Iraq Body Count
Source
More...

According to last year's Lancet study Iraqi civilian deaths may be near or beyond 100,000.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

The Downing Street Memo and Impeachment of George Bush

Okay, well, it seems this is the most attention we've seen yet on the issue of George Bush and the lies told by the White House to wage war against Iraq. The information is not really new though the current spotlight being shown upon the memo seems to be. Let's hope it intensifies.

Juan Cole has several posts on the topic recently: The Downing Street Memo and "Fixing Around"
At least one commentator has been quoted in the press as questioning what British Intelligence chief Richard Dearlove meant in the Downing Street Memo by the phrase "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." The full passage reads, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
He also credits his readers for drawing attention to the Piles of Smoking Guns :
Kind readers have drawn my attention to other leaked documents on the British side that lend support to the implications of the Downing Street memo, which alleges that Bush had decided on a war against Iraq by summer, 2004 and would fix the intelligence around the policy.

...

The document shows that Wolfowitz knew very well that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were not a presssing issue. The Defense Department consistently pretended otherwise in 2002 and 2003.

...

A good overview of the record of Iraq decision-making as revealed in leaked British memos is at the BBC Panorama site.
Sure would be nice to see an impeachment come out of this. I'm not holding my breath but hey while I'm engaged in a bit of wishful thinking, hows about a nice long prison term for this sick bunch of lying war criminals... and war profiteers too are they not? Yeah, we need a spotlight alright.

Memo in html via Scoop and as a an index page of pdf files.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

How much Oil are you eating?

Ianqui over at the Oil Drum provides a nice introduction to Our oil-laden food chain:
Just to get started, according to this estimate, the food production system uses 17% of all of the fossil fuel consumed in the US.
When it comes to diet and oil I have two suggestions. First, I'd like to encourage folks to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. Second, start a garden and grow as much food as you can for yourself. Adopt these two and you will be happier and healthier.

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Clueless about our energy crisis

James Kunstler continues to write the most cutting and accurate articles regarding oil and world energy. Here are a few choice nuggets from his most recent, Still Clueless:
Cluelessness over the the world energy / economic predicament fogs the public discussion more than ever as we approach summer. The New York Times ran a big story in the Sunday news section about India's soaring energy needs and its future plans ("Hunger For Energy Transforms How India Operates"). India is the world's fifth leading energy user. Dig this: they import 70 percent of their oil. India's government predicts that the country will have to import 85 percent of its oil two decades from now.

So what's India's plan? According to Energy Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, the solution is "to persuade China to cooperate rather than compete." Okay, and your bargaining chip would be. . .? Also consider this: The US, Japan, Europe and China will all have to import more than three quarters of their oil supplies. Does this suggest that the world is going to remain an orderly place?

...

The Times story about all this is so devoid of critical analysis that it appears to have been written by an 11-year-old child.

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Here in the States, the price of a barrel of oil is back over $55 and we are only one week into the summer vacation driving season. President Bush is running a scam on the public by pretending to push Congress to act on an energy bill that offers nothing to realistically address the nation's oil addiction and, especially, its car dependency. He doesn't dare, I suppose, because he must know that the American economy is about little more than car dependency. But just watch: as the price for a barrel of oil heads north past $60, Bush's abject leadership failure will become self-evident and the public mood will appear to shift overnight. The oval office will become a very lonely place indeed by this coming fall, and its occupant will have three long and terrible years left to suffer there.
I'm not sure what amazes me more: that George Bush was re-elected rather than impeached or that we are this far into the energy crisis with so little public discussion on the matter. This should be top of the agenda folks. It's as though we trust that by ignoring it the problem will go away and that will not happen. Nope. We're setting ourselves up for a big fall. We'll see soon enough.

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Bush is a Sith Lord

Over at CounterPunch Paul Craig Roberts asks: Is Bush a Sith Lord? The answer, of course, is yes. I've wanted to write something like this for a long while. No need since Roberts has done such a fine job. Officially the U.S. claims to be a democratic republic but in truth, with each passing day the U.S. solidifies its position as an Empire. Roberts writes:

The current episode of Star Wars is dynamite for the duplicitous Bush administration. Palpatine, a Sith Lord masquerading as a galactic Republican, becomes Chancellor of the Galatic Republic through deception. Palpatine uses wars that he instigates to elevate security over the power of the Senate and to become dictator.

evil-empire2

In a moment of triumph, Palpatine tells the Senate: "In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society." The senators respond with sustained cheering and applause. Padme says, "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."

Sith lords use the powers of the dark side of the force. Jedi knights use the power of the good side. The Jedi are selfless and use their incredible powers to protect the Republic. Sith are evil and crave absolute power.

Palpatine, who is really Darth Sidious, manipulates the Senate and enlists the Jedi Council's patriotism to "defend" the Republic against a "separatist" army that he secretly directs. The purpose of the orchestrated war is to erode liberty in the name of security. The naïve Jedi catch on too late and are decimated. The Republic falls.

Bush's "war against terrorism" is no less orchestrated than Palpatine's war and has led to the same result: a society dominated by security concerns.

The top secret British government memo that was leaked to the London Times proves beyond all doubt that Bush invaded Iraq for none of the changing reasons that he has given a too-trusting public. Bush did not invade Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction or because he wanted to bring democracy to Iraq.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gray Tree Frogs and a beautiful rainy day

Dscn3429
Today was a good day.

Amazing moment number one came while we were down at the lake. I was caught in a thunderstorm and enjoyed a really nice walk in the rain. Had one of those moments.

Amazing moment number two came just minutes ago. I've been listening to the Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla versicolor) this evening and I have to say, I love it. They are going crazy this evening and I can't help but think there must be some mating going on because not only are they louder than normal but I'm hearing an entirely new sound from them. As if the evening of frog voices was not fantastic enough I finally broke down and went outside with a flashlight. I don't want to disrespect their space and process so I was trying to stay away and let them do their thing. I heard voices and saw that my mom and nephew Jake had gone out so I went ahead. Well, let me tell you, they are everywhere. Within just 5 minutes we discovered seven or eight. I know there are many more that we did not see! As we were coming back inside we stopped to look at one more and he jumped and landed on my ankle!

I love these little frogs!

To end the perfect night, as the frogs continue to sing the wind has picked up and a thunderstorm is rolling in.

About the picture: Gray Tree Frog, taken May 2004 sitting in the leaves of our Hosta. You can also listen to a recording made this evening. Want to know more about these cool little buddies of mine? Link 1, link 2.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Living Simply: No S Diet and the Shovelglove

A few months back I wrote:
I've written before about my concern regarding our use of fossil fuels. It is a subject that I've been thinking about over the past 15 years and it weighs on my mind more with each passing year. Recently it occurred to me that I might start writing a bit about how I try to limit my use of fossil fuels and related resources. I think this will take the form of a short tip-like post once a week. Feel free to add any ideas you've implemented in your own life.
I have not kept up with this. That said, I like the original idea and intend to try posting consistently on the theme. We'll see.

I'll continue on with No S Diet. What I like about this is its common sense simplicity and that it closely reflects my own diet. I don't like the concept of "dieting" because most folks seem to think about that as a special process oriented around the desire to loose weight. I don't use the word that way. My goal is to be naturally healthy all the time and I have always based that on eating simple, whole foods that require low energy inputs to grow (more about ecology and food in another post). So, just to be clear, I do not diet. I eat food.

No S Diet: No snacks, sweets, seconds, except on days that start with S.
There are just three rules and one exception:
• No Snacks
• No Sweets
• No Seconds
Except (sometimes) on days that start with 's'

...

Why is this diet so much better?
Because it is simple, sustainable, and you aren't really depriving yourself of anything. You don't have to sacrifice anything -- not time, not health, not any delicious thing... There are no magic potions and there are no poisons. You are targeting just the culprit, just the bad habit of overeating itself.

...

What do you mean by "sweets"?

I mean something whose principal source of calories is sugar. Go ahead and put sugar in your coffee or oatmeal; you have my blessing. Of course fruits are fine.

But beware of soda and corn syrup "juice" drinks. I'm not just being a killjoy; Americans get an estimated 10% of their calories from such nutritionally bankrupt "liquid carbohydrates." (footnote pending)

I wouldn't worry too much about borderline foods like yoghurt and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If these are a problem for you, i.e., you eat them every day and lay it on thick, then make them esses. If not, don't. Just by targeting the really egregious offenders you'll be cutting out a lot of calories. And you'll be that much more likely to stick with the plan. If you're like most first worlders, it's a little revolting to think how much unambiguously crappy food you consume. So forget the borderline cases, the clear cut cases are 80% of the problem and 0% of the headache.

This is probably the most important S. Do you know how many pounds of sugar the average American ingests each year? According to the USDA's Economic Research Service, 105 pounds (2001). That's about 20% of total calories. You could make a snowman out of that. That's less than 2 years till you've eaten your body weight in sugar. If you're a real whopper, chances are you eat even more sugar than that, so I figure it works out about the same. And this is a pretty conservative number. The ERS assumes that over 40 pounds of "delivered" sugar is "lost" (147 delivered, 105 ingested), which I find a little hard to believe, but I guess we're wastrels as well as gluttons.

How do you think that compares with the sugar intake of our ancestors? We don't have to go back to hunter gatherer times to find a striking contrast, or even before Columbus (when it was close to nil because there was no refined sugar in most places). 1821 will do: 10 pounds (that's delivered, not ingested!).

...

Nosdiet is slow, but the idea is, it's permanent. It's humane enough that you can do it your whole life. I find it enhances my enjoyment of food.
I also wanted to briefly mention a simple and common sense exercise system created by the same fellow. He calls it shoveglove and it's based on moving a sledgehammer to repeatedly mimic different kinds of work: chopping wood, shoveling, churning butter. Personally, I'm all for gardening and getting physical exercise that way but this seems like a great system for use in the winter when you may not have a garden or outside work to do. No fancy machines; just a sledgehammer or a similar weight combined with careful, controlled movement. He suggests 14 minutes a day which seems easily doable.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Common sense and the need to defeat religious conservatives

Thanks to Chuck for pointing this out. Matt Taibbi over at the New York Press has written an excellent article on the importance of confronting religious conservatives in America:
Progressives in this country have always maintained a kind of fuzzy belief that fundamentalists will eventually just disappear, as if by magic, that the phenomenon of grown men and women believing in devils and witches and angels will inevitably be outgrown, the way children outgrow Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Marx. When some pastor in rural Alabama takes the pulpit to denounce SpongeBob Squarepants as the agent of the Evil One, we figure no response is really necessary—folks will figure out the joke on their own, somewhere down the line.

Because of this, nothing like an organized resistance to this buffoonery has ever taken root in America. Though fundamentalists themselves imagine their secular opponents as a great and unified conspiracy, in truth the only weapons trained on Christians in this country are the occasional lawsuit by the ACLU (a group which normally opposes not religion itself, as I would prefer, but some ostensibly unconstitutional intrusion of religion into the public sphere) and the sarcastic barbs of ineffectual heathen media figures like Maureen Dowd and Jon Stewart.

Our pornographic pop culture, seen by religious conservatives as a coordinated, premeditated military offensive against Christian values, is as indifferent to Christianity as it is to environmentalism. It is not a true opponent of fundamentalist Christianity, because it doesn't give a shit about fundamentalist Christianity—or about anything else for that matter, except ratings and sales.

What organized political resistance fundamentalists do encounter comes in the form of groups that oppose their political objectives, not Christianity itself. Even pro-choice groups like NARAL, which come into direct and often violent contact with Christians, restrict themselves to agitation for abortion rights, and leave the issue of their opponents' religion alone. In general, there is almost no public figure, anywhere, who has ever suggested publicly that fundamentalist Christianity, as a thing-in-itself, should be opposed. The strongest suggestion most critics will make is to say that it should be contained, and indeed that seems to be the best-case strategy of progressives: that the God-fearing set can be boxed in, kept from being a nuisance and from meddling in areas where they don't belong, just long enough for them to eventually die out of natural causes.

This is a mistake, and it is the same mistake people have made for centuries: underestimating the American zeal for superstition, for boobism, for living the intellectual lives of farm animals. A large statistical majority of Americans would rather live their whole lives in perpetual fear of the devil than listen to ten minutes of common sense. When you consider where these people live intellectually, the idea that the Democratic Party can somehow succeed in Middle America by making small tactical changes, by waving a few more flags, seems absurd. You either believe in the devil or you don't; and if you don't, you're never going to fool these people. The Republicans, for all their seeming "confusion," understand this now better than ever. Their seemingly open attempts in recent months to radicalize and embolden their evangelical base may have had a temporary desultory effect with regard to their poll numbers.

But this current crew of Republican strategists has always understood American thinking better than the Tom Junods of the world. They know that most political trends are fleeting. Liberalism vanished at the first sign of trouble; pacifism disappeared one generation after Vietnam; even fiscal conservatism is easily forgotten. The one thing that never disappears in this country is stupidity, and if you court it, you'll always have votes down the line. Especially when it lives on unopposed.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Dying in Iraq

Juan Cole has an excellent post comparing the death rate in Iraq with Saddam to that since his removal by the U.S. illegal war.:
Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, when questioned about the Iraq war that he helped spearhead, asked, "Would you really prefer to have Saddam Hussein in power?"

But the reason for not having Saddam in power was that he had killed so many people. If not having him means that 8,000 people a year have to die, then what? And what if the number of people dying in Iraq is even higher? What if it is not 8,000 a year, as Jabr maintains, but more like 50,000? Jabr's figures are only for casualties of guerrilla actions. What about all the Iraqis who have died as a result of US bombing raids on civilian quarters of cities? What about all the murders that occur as part of political reprisals?

The Baath Party was in power for about 35 years. If it had killed 8000 civilians per year, that would be 280,000 persons. That is about what is alleged, though it is probably an exaggeration. (The deaths in the Iran-Iraq war cannot all be laid at Saddam's feet, since he began suing for peace in 1982, but was rebuffed by Khomeini, who insisted on dragging the war out until 1988 in hopes of taking Baghdad and putting the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in power there. Likewise, Mr. Rumsfeld's offer of support to Saddam and greenlighting of the use of chemical weapons prolonged the war).

In other words, Bayan Jabr's figures suggest that in US-dominated Iraq, people are dying so far at about the same rate as they did under Baath rule. (If he is underestimating the civilian casualties, then it is possible that many more are dying per year than under Saddam!) In any case, Saddam's killing sprees were largely over with by the late 1990s, so the rate of death in Iraq now is enormously greater than it was in, say, 2001.

Wolfowitz should give up on the propaganda technique of just demonizing his opponents and then asking how anyone could want them in power. The real question is, are Iraqis better off under US auspices? So far, the answer with regard to the death rate is a resounding "No!"

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Oenothera macrocarpa - Missouri Primrose

Missouri PrimroseBlooming by our little garden pond. These blooms tend to open in the evening and stay open through the morning. Most of the flowers only seem to last 1-2 days. One of my favorites.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

One-fifth of Earth's bird species in danger

Infoshop News has posted a Reuters story regarding Earth's bird species in danger:
More than a fifth of the planet's bird species face extinction as humans venture further into their habitats and introduce alien predators, an environmental group said on Wednesday.

While there have been some success stories of species that reappeared or recovered, the overall situation of the world's birds is worsening, BirdLife International said in its annual assessment of the feathered fauna.

"The total number (of bird species) considered to be threatened with extinction is now 1,212, which when combined with the number of near threatened species gives a total of exactly 2,000 species in trouble -- more than a fifth of the planet's remaining 9,775 species," BirdLife said.

Several species from Europe appear in the list for the first time, including the European roller, for which key populations in Turkey and European Russia have declined markedly.

BirdLife, a global alliance of conservation groups, said 179 species were categorised as critically endangered, the highest level of threat. They include the Azores bullfinch, one of Europe's rarest songbirds that has fewer than 300 left.

There has been some good news on the bird front.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was sighted in the United States for the first time in decades.

On the Seychelles the magpie-robin, a species that had dwindled to just 12-15 birds on one island by 1965, recovered to over 130 after birds were relocated to small, predator-free islands off Africa's east coast.

But news has been bad elsewhere. BirdLife said two of New Zealand's species have moved closer to joining five others that are extinct there, largely because of introduced rat population explosions in 1999 and 2000.

These resulted in the loss of two populations of yellowhead and almost wiped out the orange-fronted parakeet, reducing its numbers to tens.

Habitat destruction and the introduction of alien predators are among the biggest threats to bird populations globally.

"Despite the recent rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, overall more species are currently sliding towards oblivion," said BirdLife communication officer Ed Parnell.

"One in five bird species on the planet now faces a risk in the short or medium-term of joining the dodo, great auk and 129 other species that we know have become extinct since 1500."

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