Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The America I Want

I drove back home on Sunday after spending a weekend in my hometown in Canada, and have to admit to having mixed feelings upon my return. Shortly after returning home, I read Paul Krugman's column, Toyota, Moving Northward, contrasting Canada's Universal Health Care to the mess we know as the U.S. Health Care system. Next, I surfed over to Rory Blythe's blog, neopleon.com, and read this entry, entitled PEPWDS, lamenting the disappointed feeling Rory felt after returning to the U.S. after vacationing abroad. I then took a look at my mail, and was less than pleased to discover that my wife's university has stiffed us with an 18.5% tuition increase for the fall semester. Next, I found a self-congratulatory letter from my employer stating that they were pleased to announce that they were able to hold my health insurance provider to a 7% annual increase in health insurance premiums this year - this is the same health care provider that just stiffed me with a bill, and was responsible for having me referred to a collection agency over a bill that should've been covered by my insurance provider for the second time in a year. Welcome to Bush's world of neoconservative policy :(

I find myself questioning if it is really worth trying to make it in this nation. A once great nation overtaken by a neoconservative movement representing the needs and desires of only a tiny fraction of society. A nation with health care costs that have spiraled out of control, with 44 million uninsured. A government that has attempted to dismantle the social security program, and has even threatened to refuse to honor treasury bonds - a move skirting dangerously close to causing financial ruin. We live in a nation with an administration in charge responsible for increasing anti-American sentiment throughout the world, by declaring an unnecessary war, essentially increasing the threat of terrorist activities throughout the world. A nation with leaders who demonstrate constant abuses of power, and unprecedented levels of secrecy and deception.

America - the self-proclaimed leader of the free world - a nation with so much potential, but with leadership unwilling to grow up and accept the responsibility and accountability that goes along with being the leader of the free world. America has refused to accept responsibility on the environment, and has neglected the Kyoto Accord, the primary global effort to minimize global pollution emissions and reduce the risk of global warming. We can do better.

I keep coming back to the question of how this all happened. How this nation fell so far off the path of a responsible society, falling for this neoconservative agenda that is so far removed from reality. Is it still even possible for America to grow up and become a responsible and sustainable citizen of the global society?

I believe it is possible, but not without major reform in our media and our electoral process. Money and campaign contributions are not equivalent to free speech, and the decision to equate the two was among the most lamentable decision in American history. I'm talking about real campaign finance reform - not simply hollow buzzwords and legislation, but a complete dismantling and removal of the campaign contribution process and the lobbying industry. It can and should be done. I'm going to leave you with a quote a selection from Bill Moyers' Moyers on America - A Journalist and His Times:

(This is a quote from Dorothy Haddock, a woman approaching the age of 90 who set out to walk across America to protest the subversion of democracy by money in politics)

If money is speech, then those with more money have more speech, and that idea is antithetical to a democracy that cherishes political fairness. It makes us no longer equal citizens. A flood of special interest money has carried away our representatives, and all that is left of them--at least for those of us who do not write $100,000 checks--are the shadows of their cardboard cutouts. It is said that democracy is not something we have, but something we do. But right now, we cannot do it because we cannot speak. We are shouted down by the bullhorns of big money. It is money with no manners for democracy, and it must be escorted from the room. The hundreds of thousands of our dead, buried in rows upon rows in our national cemeteries, sacrificed their lives for the democracy of a free people, not for what we have today. It is up to each of us to see that these boys and girls did not die in vain. That's just how serious his message is.


Friday, July 22, 2005

An explanation for the Niger Forgeries

It reads somewhat like a conspiracy theory, and is way over my level of knowledge in many areas, but there is a great Daily Kos diary up explaining the origin of the Niger Forgeries: Niger Yellowcake and the Man Who Forged Too Much. The conspiracy involves players from the Iran-Contra Scandal, and it does further explain the motive for Rove's unusual eagerness to smear Wilson, considering the major plot he may have been trying to cover up. Given the length of time Fitzgerald has been investigating the Plame leak affair, I wonder how far down this path the investigation has led him? How much bigger than Watergate can this story end up becoming?


Rove, Libby both lied to special prosecutor Fitzgerald

It's over...Even if Rove's crimes aren't specifically covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the Espionage Act, Executive Order 12958, or any number of other laws that may have been broken, it looks like we at least have him on perjury or obstruction of justice.


Bloomberg: Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters
American Prospect: An Unlikely Story
The Raw Story: Bloomberg Reveals Rove, Libby Gave False Testimony

Given what we now know about the state department memo (marked (s) for secret), the call between Novak and Fleischer, the passenger list of the flight to Africa, and the testimony of Matthew Cooper, and the president's refusal to fire a staffer responsible for the leaking of a CIA operative over partisan politics, the credibility of the Whitehouse is at an alltime low. Couple the facts surrounding the Plame leak with the fact that it was used as evidence to start an unnecessary war and the recent Downing Street Memo revelations, and you can see how big this story really is -- Should an administration responsible for declaring an illegal war based on false pretences and then attempting to cover it up through a smear campaign really be holding the office of president in the most powerful nation on Earth? Should they even be allowed to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice - given that he might serve for another 20-30 years, and we might be witnessing an impeachment trial within the next year? This scandal is an incredible abuse of power, and the American people must demand more from their president.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Distractions and Talking Points

A game of political chess - With no hope of winning the battle in the court of public opinion over PlameGate, the next move is obvious. Plame, Wilson and Roberts are nothing but pawns to the Bush Administration. The Administration had to get the spotlight away from Bush and towards the more comfortable territory of accusing democrats of being partisan obstructionists: One extreme court nomination, filibuster, nuclear option, and the destruction of a historic and longstanding senate tradition later, and the media is bound to switch at least some of it's focus.

Thankfully, the age of treating CIA operatives as political pawns is coming to an end. Check out this letter signed by ten former CIA analysts, and addressed to the U.S. Senate. The message is loud and clear - the CIA will not tolerate the RNC and their talking points, or the partisan attacks on Wilson and Plame.

The supreme court nomination of John Roberts is bound to cause a media hailstorm. The republican talking heads continually state that they do not want an activist judge in the Supreme Court, yet the man Bush nominated is an extreme partisan. I have read that this man wants to strike down Roe v. Wade ("Wrongly Decided") and affirmative action laws, and is reflexively anti-environment. I'm somewhat torn on this - we simply cannot allow the Bush Administration to appoint this man without a fight, but we also cannot allow the media or the public at large to lose their focus on the crimes inside the Whitehouse. Thankfully, the CIA is on our side on this one.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Fuel for the Flame

Another mainstreat media sources frames the issue correctly. This time it is the Toronto Star - actually the editorial is from a few days ago, but I just happened to notice it now. They get right to the point in the first sentence of the editorial:

U.S. Pays Bloody Price for Rove's Nasty Politics

WASHINGTON—Let us remember the real reason that White House political enforcer Karl Rove was chatting with selected reporters in the summer of 2003.

It was not necessarily to blow the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

It was not, entirely, to mete out vicious retribution against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, for writing an op-ed article in The New York Times that discounted administration claims about an alleged Iraqi effort to acquire uranium from Niger.

The malevolence was more fundamental. Rove was trying to sustain the lies that led America into Iraq.

And, the always reliable Minnesota Star-Tribune hits us with this aptly-titled editorial:

Editorial: Karl Rove/Real issue is the case for war

Recently, I have been speculating on two issues:

First, I wonder if either John Bolton on Condoleezza Rice may have been the initial source of the Valerie Plame leak. Both worked in the field of Weapons of Mass Destruction - Bolton looks especially suspicous, since the Whitehouse has failed to release the Bolton's internal survelience records to congress - Could the Plame leak be the reason?

Secondly, I wonder how involved the CIA has been in the Fitzgerald-led investigation into the matter. Several high level officials resigned out of protest around the time of the election. George Tenet himself has said that it was a mistake to include the Niger uranium story in the State of the Union Address. An ally as powerful as the CIA would be of great assistance in Fitzgerald's investigation, and they could well be the driving force behind it.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Why We Need Better Health Care

A Daily Kos diary, Why We Need Better health Care: Sorry, No Rove, struck a chord with me. I grew up in Canada, and never had to worry about health care costs, insurance premiums, and greedy insurance companies refusing to cover claims. In fact, I was blogging on this very topic back in March of this year, in a series of entries, entitled Continued Observations on Free Market philosophy, Part Two - Health Care.

During my past three years living in the United States, I've worked for three different employers, I've had health insurance coverage from three different insurance providers, I've paid over $10,000 in insurance premiums, and haven't had a single insurance claim covered. I'm a young relatively, healthy individual, and have only had a few routine office visits over the past three years -- In every single case, my insurance company refused to pay my claim, based on one inane technicality after the other -- over time, paying $60-80 copays that I should not have to pay for adds up. For each of my last two claims, I have seriously fought tooth and nail over claims for periods of months, before eventually having my bill referred to a collection agency. I am now at the point where I refuse to seek medical treatment, because I cannot afford the costs, and I have simply lost my will to argue with health insurance providers.
"We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I think government-run health will lead to poor-quality health, will lead to rationing, will lead to less choice. Once a health-care program ends up in a line item in the federal government budget, it leads to more controls. And just look at other countries that have tried to have federally controlled health care. They have poor-quality health care. Our health-care system is the envy of the world because we believe in making sure that the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in the nation's capital. -Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ 10/13/2004"

We live in a country where 44 million citizens remain uninsured. The United States spends more on health care than other industrialized countries; as a percentage of 2001 GDP, the United States spent 13.9%, Germany spent 10.7%, Canada spent 9.7%, France spent 9.5%, and Sweden spent 8.7% on total health care spending. (David Walker, “Health Care System Crisis: Growing Challenges Point to Need for Fundamental Reform,” presentation to the General Accounting Office Health Care Forum, 13 January 2004).

I grew up in Canada - I didn't have a care in the world. A nation with Universal Health Care, a balanced budget, a social safety net, progressive civil liberties. Sure, the tax rates in Canada are marginally higher, but when you consider that you health care is covered by taxes - no worry about uncovered claims - and that a $400/monthly insurance premium isn't being deducted from your paycheck, the difference doesn't seem that extreme. Indeed, when I look at this chart comparing unemployment rates between the United States and Canada, the argument of higher unemployment seems almost entirely insignificant.

I've now lived in the United States for about four years. On the surface, there appears to be very little difference between the two countries. For the average citizen, however, day to day living is much tougher in America - Their is much cause for concern with the neoconservative vision of an America based on a society of accountability. Life is already tough - middle class two income workers are hardly any better off than single-income families were 40 years ago. With the Bush Tax Cuts, the attempts to privatize social security, repealment of state funding, abolishment of the estate taxes, and many other regressive policies, the Bush Administration is waging class warfare on the lower and middle classes of American society. Twenty years ago, CEOs made an average of 30-40 times the salary of the Average American worker. Today, that number has reached between 500-1000. We are on the verge of establishing a two class society - an aristrocracy - a corporate climate based on fascist principles.

The neoconservative vision of America serves the interests of a small minority - perhaps 15% of the country. We live in a democracy - if the other 85% of this nation would wake up and realize what is happening to this country, the tide would turn. The hour is late - with a corporate controlled media, and corporate controlled house, senate, executive and judicial branches of government, the playing field has been tilted heavily into the direction of corporate interests. Let's just hope that we can still turn this fight around.


More Evidence of the Tide Turning Against the Whitehouse

An Excerpt from Meet the Press (Courtesy of Al Roger's article, Melman CRUSHED Capitol Hill in Retreat, on the Daily Kos)

MR. RUSSERT: You say you have tremendous confidence in Pat Fitzgerald.


MR. RUSSERT: If, in fact, he indicts White House officials, will you accept that indictment and not fight it?

MR. MEHLMAN: First of all, I'm the chairman of the Republican National Committee. I'm not an attorney for anybody. The fact is I look forward to his getting to the bottom of this. I can't speak for...

MR. RUSSERT: But if he indicts White House officials...


MR. RUSSERT: ...will you pledge today, because you have tremendous confidence in him, that you will not criticize his decision?

MR. MEHLMAN: Again, I'm not going to speculate. I have tremendous confidence in him. I look to getting to the bottom of this. Whatever he does, I can assure you, people are going to follow and are going to look to abide by.

MR. PODESTA: Just say "yes," Ken.

MR. MEHLMAN: But I think it would be inappropriate for me as the RNC chairman to say what legal strategy people may take in the future.

MR. RUSSERT: But if you have tremendous confidence in him, then you will respect and accept his decision.

MR. MEHLMAN: I look forward to hearing what he has to say, and I intend to respect what he has to say, but, again, I'm not going to speculate on what he might do.

MR. PODESTA: Karl Rove sent Scott McClellan out in the White House, said, "I have nothing to do with it." So his credibility's in tatters, on a very important national security matter, and if you step back, I think, even
further, and say, "Well, what's this all about?," this is about the White House trying to defend its use of manipulation of intelligence material to get us into the war in Iraq.

Clearly, the one thing we know at the end of this week was that that was a lie. McClellan's credibility is in shreds. I think Mr. Rove's credibility is in shreds. He holds a senior-level national security position, Tim. You know, they kind of make him out to be just a political guy. He's the deputy chief of staff in charge of coordinating the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council. He doesn't belong in the White House at this point.

MR. RUSSERT: He has, as you know, a security clearance. Do you believe he has violated that?

MR. PODESTA: I think that you read the applicable paragraph, from both the Executive Order 12958 and from this--and from the briefings that he got, which is that he had an affirmative obligation not to just repeat reporters.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Great Editorial by Larry C. Johnson - Worth a read

The Minnesota Star-Tribune published a great editorial by Larry C. Johnson, entitled "A Secret Known, a Cover Blown". This is an important piece, because it is the second major editorial, along with Paul Krugman's Karl Rove's America, published in the New York Times, to point out the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration and the outright fraudulence in the Administration's smear campaign of Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

Another great editorial on the subject is Frank Rich's To Find Karl Rove, Follow the Uranium, also published in the New York Times. Rich's primary contention: This scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a CIA operative who posed for Vanity Fair.

Coupled with the complete grilling that Scott McClellan faced by the Whitehouse Press Corps last week, and it is apparent that the tide is turning - the Bush Administration is falling out of favor in the mainstream media.

What is of utmost important is that this message continue to spread throughout the mainstream media - The smear campaign of Wilson and Plame must be put to an end, and called out for what it is.

Update: Another great article on this issue has been published, this time by the Washington Post, written by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: In Plame Leaks, Long Shadows. This is a high-level overview of the Plame leak, and will help to fill in the details of the story for those who haven't been playing the closest attention to the story. There is no evidence of RNC talking point detritus defiling this article, which instead focuses on the facts.


As George W. Bush once said, Let's "Bring 'Em On!"

I read an inspiring diary on Daily Kos this morning, entitled Be Unreasonable. This diary echoes completely the sentiments of my recent post, A Glimmer of Hope: This represents our best chance since the failed 2000 election to restore civility, respect and honor to American political discourse, and eventually, the Whitehouse.

This is not a partisan issue, folks -- The Bush Administration has demonstrated blatant abuse of power continuously since stepping into the Whitehouse, and it must be stopped. We are at a tipping point on the scale - As John Stewart recently quipped: "It's like we've secretly replaced the Whitehouse Press Corps with actual reporters". We must speak with a united voice, and break through all of the hypocrisy, noise, and tired and irrelevant excuses spread by the RNC talking points and the Republican Noise Machine. As liberals, progressives, and traditional conservatives with any shred of dignity remaining, we must seize the moment, as this is our opportunity - the reign of terror and deceit of the Bush Administration must come to an end.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.

The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

-George Bernard Shaw

When it comes down to it folks, the major players in the Bush Administration are all criminals. There are numerous charges that could be brought against those ultimately found responsible for the Plame Leak, and ultimately, an illegal war. For one, it is a crime to make false statements to congress, under the false statements statute. Ultimately, the entire administration should be brought under charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, with Bush named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

But, first, we must win the battle in the court of public opinion. Currently, America is as divided as ever. The majority of those who voted Republican in the 2004 election are just as likely to stand by Bush's word today as they were apparently willing to do eight months ago.

Ultimately, the responsibility falls onto the shoulders of the media -- This is where the Glimmer of Hope comes into play. We witnessed the actual reporters in the Whitehouse Press Corps last year - enraged that they had been blatantly lied to by Scott McClellan. Will the press corps turn over a new leaf - Will we continue to see honest, legitimate reporting over the next crucial and critical month, or will the press fall back to it's role as a mouthpiece of the Republican Noise Machine?

This is the moment of truth, folks -- Let's be unreasonable.

Update: The Mainstream Media appears to be getting it! Read this quote from New York Times Op/Ed Columnist, Frank Rich:

This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Jon Stewart on Bernard Goldberg

John Stewart recently had guest Bernard Goldberg (Author of the entirely regrettable Bias'- A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News) on the Daily Show. You can watch the clip on the Comedy Central website.

When I saw Stewart introducing Goldberg to the set, I though, "Oh no...why are you giving this guy a platform to spread his trash" By the end of the interview, I was more than happy. Stewart ran circles around Goldberg, continually pointing out the flaws in his arguments, and making a mockery of the thesis of Goldberg's work. The appearance was entirely entertaining - At times, Goldberg appeared to enjoy the experience, although for the most part, he appeared unsettled, completely thrown off by well timed, witty comments thrown in by Stewart, and the laughter from the audience.

Goldberg appeared on the Daily Show in an attempt to pedal his new book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37). Goldberg was attempting to present himself as a "fair and balanced" author, but Stewart was quick to point out that "There were only 3 conservatives were in the book, and one of them shot an abortion doctor".

Goldberg's thesis is that America is being ruined by degrading cultural values over time. His book focuses primarily on cultural icons - Stewart found no end to the humor in the selection of Barbara Striesand as one of the hundred Americans that are ruining America.

My favorite moment was when Goldberg started with: "Let's say we have a bigot channel..." Stewart jumps in quickly with "we do!", to enormous applause and laughter. That was great - With two well-timed words, Stewart made a great political point (pointing out the cultural element that is truly ruining America), took the wind out of the sales of Goldberg's point, and generated a great laugh. Goldberg ended up resorting to a "You're a....You're so...".

Stewart's summation on Goldberg was that he understood Goldberg's point, but that most everyone in his book is powerless, and that there are people in power that are actually the ones reasonable for ruining America. A recent comment on Goldberg's book in Amazon sums it up pretty well, "The guy deserves a top 10, at least".


What has happened to America?

The RNC talking points are doing there job - muddying the waters, confusing the issues, spreading lies and innuendo, to the point where nobody seems care about the truth anymore - Out of one corner of their mouth, the Whitehouse refuses to comment on the Rove leak until after the investigation, yet out of the other, the RNC feels free to spread mounds of rubbish through the mouthpiece of the Republican Noise Machine.

Washington Times: most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee

New York Post: Republicans yesterday claimed President Bush's political guru Karl Rove has been exonerated by the news that reporters — and not top-secret government sources — tipped him off that a Bush critic's wife worked for the CIA... A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report found many of Wilson's claims about his mission were false.

Fox News: Republicans cheered the latest revelations Friday, saying they showed Rove wasn't trying to hurt Plame but instead was trying to informally warn reporters to be cautious about some of Wilson's claims.

RNC Talking Points:
  • Karl Rove discouraged a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise (Notice how eerily this resembles the talking points concerning the Bush Administration's declaration of war in Iraq?)
  • Both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the CIA found assessments Wilson made in his report were wrong (Notice that there is no word on why the assessments were wrong - facts aren't important here. The fact is that there was no uranium sale in Niger, the documents were forged, and the president lied about said facts in the State of the Union address to justify an illegal war based on false pretenses --but, I guess that doesn't matter)
  • Officials said Evidence Was "Thin"and his "Homework Was Shoddy" (What is this? An indictment of Amb. Wilson, or an Indictment of President Bush? The president was using shoddy and incomplete evidence in order to declare war on a soveirgn nation. I believe the onus was on the Bush Administration to provideconclusive evidence of their assertions, and not the other way around)
  • Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Kit Bond (R-MO), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) All Stated, "On at least Two Occasions [Wilson] Admitted That he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all" (The first thing I notice is that they are using three repulican senators as their source, and, yet, they want to accuse the democrats of initiating partisan attacks. Again, I'd like to highlight the irony of the neocons accusing Wilson of making claims based on questionable intelligence)
  • Once again, Democrats are engaging in blatant political attacks (Excuse me, but this all started because of blatant political attacks on the part of Rove, Novak, et al. The RNC talking points are nothing but blatant political attacks. This is no longer a partisan issue -- The president's senior political analyst engaged in a treasonous act, and damaged our national security -- and yet, the talking heads continue to defend this man -- you tell me who's really engaging in partisan politics? These excerpts from Paul Krugman's most recent editorial, Karl Rove's America, say it all:

I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove's America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake - that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush's proposals....

One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line...They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

..Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?

(Sorry for the long excerpts - I recommend actually checking out the full editorial at either the New York Times, or the Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive. After reading The Great Unraveling, I have become a huge fan of Paul Krugman -- He hits the nail on the head time after time, and saw through the Bush Administration's lies and manipulation long ago.)

For a look at the general consensus on the Karl Rove leak scandal, take a look at the discussion on this Slashdot article from Friday afternoon. The entire thread is a terrible indictment on the political climate of the United States - Instead of discussing facts, the entire thread is spent bickering over one RNC point or another.

I will echo Krugman's lamentation: "What has happened to America? How did our political system get to this point?"


Friday, July 15, 2005

War Crimes

The key to the Valerie Plame leak is not simply this one criminal action by Karl Rove...The focus needs to be pulled back to the bigger picture. This has everything to do with the Bush Administration's case for war in Iraq.

As the downing street memos have confirmed, the Bush Administration was "fixing the facts around the policy". In other words, the Bush Administration knew that, based on the facts, there was no case for war in Iraq. The Bush Administration lied to the American people to convince the of the necessity of declaring an illegal war based on false pretences. I would argue that this was a criminal act, and that we now have the evidence to prosecute the case in the court of public opinion, if not the court of law.

In any serious criminal case, there needs to be a motive. The Bush Administration was well aware of the fact that Saddam did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction, and that there was no connections between Al Qaida, 9/11, and Iraq. So, what possible motive does that leave us? Luckily, we have documentation from the Project For a New American Century (PNAC) that has been intent on invading Iraq since the mid-90's. Look at the titles of these documents straight from PNAC's website, with an archive of articles written from 1997-2000. This organization is rife with players from the Bush Administration: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle. Look at the titles of the late '90s essays: How to Attack Iraq (1998), A Way to Oust Saddam (1998), Bombing Iraq Isn't Enough (1998)

These chickenhawks having been itching to invade Iraq for almost a decade, and have simply been waiting for a political expedient opportunity to do so. Invading Iraq was never about U.S. national security...It has always been about attempting to stabilize the Middle East. Quite simply, the non-OPEC oil reserves in the world are quickly becoming depleted. As China continues to become a more important player in the energy consumption race, it is clear that something must be done soon to alleviate the possibility of another Arab Oil Embargo. Rather than properly deal with the issue, by investing heavily into developing alternative technologies, and developing policies that reduce our massive energy requirements, the neocons have decided that securing the Middle East would supply us with a reliable oil supply for the next two or three decades.

The RNC is desperately attempting to persuade public opinion on this matter. A close examination of the RNC talking points shows that they are more concerned with the defamation of the character's of Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame than they are with actually defending the actions of Karl Rove. They can't defend the actions of Rove, because they haven't a leg to stand on.

Why are they trying so hard to defame Wilson and Plame? To muddy the waters, and to confuse as many people as they can that this is simply partisan politics, rather than a legitimate and justified claim on the lies and deception within the Bush Administration.

You see, the Bush Administration has somehow managed to build up a solid reputation based on "moral values" and good character, despite the mounting evidence of continued corruption within the Administration. The general public has maintained a relatively benign opinion of the Bush Administration. If this Karl Rove leak scandal gains too much traction, the administration will loose it's credibility with the general public, and the entire House of Cards that Rove Built will all come tumbling down.

So, back to the criminal case against the administration -- condemnation for conducting an illegal war. We have the motive - openly admitted to by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). We have the evidence - The Rove Leak and the Downing Street Memos, for starters. Hopefully, we will also have the testimony of CIA experts and intelligence experts, some of who previously resigned in protest over administrative "groupthink" -- they will no longer be cowed by the threat of an administration no longer held highly in respect by the general public.

Is there a real possibility of an impeachment with a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican Supreme Court? Perhaps not, but a lame duck presidency, cowed by immense public scrutiny and disapproval and unable to with their neoconservative agenda is not too much to hope for.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Glimmer of Hope

The re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 was the single biggest failure in modern democratic history. No responsible, conscious or sane society would have re-elected this criminal administration. But the American electorate was not responsible, conscious, or sane. The American populace was simply not aware of how badly the wool was being pulled over their eyes.

The Karl Rove/Valerie Plame leak story is bigger than you can possibly imagine. It is proof positive of the criminal intent and conduct of the Bush Administration. An necessary war based on false pretences was declared by the Bush Administration, and now we have irrefutable proof.
But, how did this happen? How, in an open and democratic nation, did an administration that initiated an illegal war, and failed miserably to meet the needs of the American people in every policy decision made, fool enough people enough of the time to become reelected?

You this is a two-pronged issue. Primarily, the Rove leak is evidence of the mendacity, duplicitousness, and corruption of the Bush Administration. Secondly, it is evidence of the media's complicity in covering the Bush Administration's failures. The failure of the media to perform it's established role is almost the bigger story here.

The performance of the Whitehouse Press Corps over the past week is the glimmer of hope that those of us who have been paying attention have all been waiting for. I almost feel sorry watching Scott McClellan, now stuck between the lies of the administration and the evidence that is now available to the press. There is simply nowhere for the Administration to run.

Let's take a little history lesson, shall we? I recently finished reading "What Liberal Media?", by Eric Alterman. The chapters on the 2000 Pre-election coverage and the Florida Recount where, at this point, almost unbearably difficult to read. This could have all been so easily avoided, had the media done it's job in the first place. There is simply no way Bush would've been elected in 2000 in a fair election. Gore much better represented the hopes and aspirations of the American public - it was only through the lies and deceit of the supposedly liberal media that Bush was able to even remain competitive in this election.

The emergence of the republican noise machine has been well documented by Brock and Alterman. Through corporate financing, deception and intimidation, the neoconservative movement has been able to conduct a hostile takeover of traditional news media. Through continuous decrying of "liberal media bias", along with slanderous attacks and accusations, the right wing attack machine has been able to cow the media into submission - No longer do we have a "fair and balanced", but instead a mouthpiece for the RNC and the rightwing think tanks.
I keep coming back to the obvious point of how this all could have been avoided. Drawing to the close of the 2000 election cycle, Gore held a comfortable 10 digit + lead on the conservative candidate George W. Bush. How did the media let Bush back into the race? There was simply no way that Bush would've taken the election on the issues. Instead, the media focused on meaningless tripe, such as Bush's phony down-to-earth personality. The ultimate transgression of the media was the tarring of Al Gore's personal character - It was media and the talking heads who pulled Bush back into the race through a concerted character assassination of Gore, painting him as a compulsive liar, based on out-of-context quotes and deceptions.

It was the media who announced a much-too-close to call election for George W. Bush, and worked feverishly to curry favor for Bush's presidential bid. It was the media that failed to denounce the paid-for, staged riots in Florida that disrupted the Florida recount effort - a despicable act that should've landed the Bush administration in Jail before the president was ever even confirmed. It was the media that failed to cry foul when the supreme court handed Bush the election without a recount - an unbelievable action that even the supreme court was unwilling to make permanent out of fear of setting a precedent. George W. Bush is a man who should never have been elected president of the United States - It was only through the willingness and complacency of the media to go along with the ranting and raving of the Republican Noise Machine that allowed this travesty to occur.

The number of scandals surrounding the "Teflon" Bush administration over the past few years is simply amazing - From the staged bourgeois riots, the supreme court decision to hand Bush the election, Gannongate, the public propaganda revelations, the Valerie Plame leak, the lack of connections between Saddam and Al Qaida, the lack of weapons of mass destruction, and the complete lack of evidence that there were ever a trace of WMDS, the closed-door energy task force meetings with Cheney, the outrageous social security scheme the administration attempted to pass onto the American public, the lies used to justify the massive tax cuts to the rich, the massive decline from a budget surplus to record budget deficits, the lack of evidence that Bush ever served in the Texas Air National Guard, the smearing of John Kerry's character by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the prisoner abuse scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the inability to guard the weapons cache at Al Qaaqaa, the Alberto Gonzales torture memos, the nuclear option, the failure to release the John Bolton-related surveillance records, Bush's Harken Energy-related insider trading scandal, Cheney's Halliburton financial scandal, Bush's close ties to Enron and the California Energy Crisis, the conflicts of interest in the huge no-big rebuilding contracts awarded to Halliburton, the missing $8 billion in Iraqi rebuilding funds, Coingate, the massive irregularities in the 2004 Ohio election and recount, conflicts of interest in having Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris oversee the closest state elections, having Diebold's CEO declare that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year", the ChoicePoint Florida voting purge, the failure to sign onto Kyoto Protocol, to even recognize global warming as a serious threat to our existence, or rto pass any kind of regulations with aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the gutting of the clean air act, the passing of the bankruptcy bill, passing laws which favor corporate interests time and time again, Bush calling the Iraq War a "Crusade", stating "Bring it on", very prematurely declaring "Mission Accomplished" almost three years ago, dismissing the single largest worldwide anti-war protest as little more than a "focus group", and increasing anti-American sentiment throughout the entire world to the point where most of the world now considers the United States to be the number one threat to world peace.

Many of these issues passed through the American media with little more than blip on the national radar -- Instead we have a media that focused on Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, or the latest kidnapping or murder trial. Any time a political issue did make the headlines in the media, it was more than likely at the behest of the Republican Noise Machine -- outrage over the audacity of Newsweek to publish a story concerning Koran abuse at Guantanamo - a story that was later publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon. The lambasting of respected career journalist Dan Rather for publishing a story concerning Bush's record with the Texas Air National guard - a story that was never actually factually disproven, or the defamation of Joseph Wilson after he dared question the authenticity of the Bush Administration's claimed evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

So, here we are full circle with the Valerie Plame leak. I believe this to be a defining moment in American history. For the first time we are witnessing the White House Press Corps realizing how badly they have been fooled and really putting the administration to task.

We have two ways this can end up. In scenario one, we retain the status quo, the media will eventually succumb to the pressure of the neoconservative attack machine: the pundits, talking heads, and spinmasters, armed with the latest RNC talking points. The story would run it's course, weakened and muddied by the continual lies and deception of the noise machine, and everyone would eventually forget the story ever happened.

The possibility, I'll even hazard probability, of scenario two is the glimmer of hope that we have all been waiting for.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NHL Tentatively Agrees to Terms of new Collective Bargaining Agreement

Source: Done Deal (TSN)

I've been patiently checking TSN every day after work in anticipation of a new NHL collective bargaining agreement. The NHL skipped the entire 2004-05 season after failing to come to an agreement last year, and I'm glad to see that they were able to reach an agreement in time to conduct a draft and full training. The deal is no yet official, as the owners and the NHLPA are both required to ratify the deal, which is expected. The new contract is over 600 pages, and I believe that many more details will probably be released shortly.

Since there was no 2004-05 season, the entry draft order will be based entirely on a lottery, so there is a small chance that my team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be able to draft scoring phenom Sidney Crosby. In a mock draft conducted by the International Scouting Service, Toronto actually one the first draft pick and selected Crosby. The lottery will be held on July 21st, and the draft on July 30th in Ottawa. Details of the lottery can be found here.

In the end, the NHLPA gave up some major concessions to the owners, including a salary cap. I believe this was a good move for the game - The NHL is simply not on the same financial level as the NBA or NFL, and player salaries had just gotten out of hand. It was sad to see franchises like the Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers disappear during the past decade, and it would be great for the league if teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames can remain competitive with the new deal.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Finally - The Media Musters the Courage to Fight the Bush Agenda

  • Fox News is definitely in the minority on this one - A full 87% of visitors to an online MSNBC poll state that Bush should fire Rove over the Valerie Plame leak. Rove committed a crime in revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. Yet - out comes Fox News host John Gibson still attempting to smear Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, with this editorial footage, actually trying to make the case that Rove should be given a medal. Are you kidding me?

  • Coverage on the Rove scandal is widespread, and I cannot even begin to express how glad I am to see the corruption of the Bush Administration finally being brought to light. The exchanges between Bush Press secretary Scott McClellan the past few days have been classic - Here's a link to some video footage (highly recommended!!), along with a transcript.

Some of my favorite moments:
QUESTION: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?
MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

QUESTION: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk.

You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

QUESTION: You're in a bad spot here, Scott...


... because after the investigation began -- after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this," from that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

  • Juan Cole states in his blog, Informed Comment, that some of Valerie Plame's contacts may have been killed by the leak.
  • Check out the array of frontpage headlines across the nation, catalogued by a Daily Kos journal. (You can't help but smirk at the title "Shrub poisoned zoo monkeys" sharing the front page headline concerning Rove on the cover of the Chicago Tribune)


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rush Limbaugh Mathematically Disproves the Existence of a Liberal Media

(Quote From Rush Limbaugh)

If Karl Rove were the leaker to Matthew Cooper of TIME Magazine, do you think they'd have kept that news private during the 2004 presidential campaign? This leak occurred in 2003. If Karl Rove engaged in criminal activity, do you not think that the media -- who claimed to know it all now -- would have not released that information during the campaign, given it to John Kerry or something and made it a huge campaign issue that the president's chief political advisor is a criminal?

Time to face up to the facts, Rush. THERE IS NO LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS. Thanks to the abolishment of the fairness doctrine, massive deregulation of the news industry, a profit-oriented focus, and a wide scale investment into rightwing think tanks and news outlets by the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, Rupert Murdoch and Sun Yung Moon, we no longer have a liberal media.

We will learn the truth and the truth shall set us free - Karl Rove committed an act of treason in attempt to cover up information that directly contradicted the evidence used to build up the case for War in Iraq.

The truth is that if there was a liberal media in place, this story would've been dug up long ago. But, we've seen time and time again what happens to those who dare contradict the neoconservative movement:

  • Rather's career was slammed over a single story that do this day remains unrefuted - Is there a single colleague that can vouch for Bush's time spent at the Texas Air National Guard.
  • Just a few weeks ago, Newsweek was attacked directly by the Bush Administration, and blamed directly as the cause of violence in the Middle East. A few days later, late on a Friday so as to avoid public scrutiny, the Pentagon revealed that the Koran had indeed been abused Guantanamo. Was there a public retraction on the part of the Whitehouse?
  • Wilson and his wife, Plame, were both publicly attacked and smeared for daring to stand up to the Bush regime. By revealing Plame's identity, the Bush Administration put Plame and her co-workers in danger and wasted a government resource that was working on an anti-WMD mission.
Compare this to the treatment of right wing pundits who all to frequently stretch the truth, make false statements and accusations and outright lie. You can hardly watch fifteen minutes of Fox News coverage without witnessing a few blatant examples of propaganda, doublespeak, or outright lying.

So, back to Limbaugh's original claim - If Karl Rove engaged in criminal activity, do you not think that the media -- who claimed to know it all now -- would have not released that information during the campaign. Well, we know that the media did not reveal the Rove-Plame leak story. Soon, we will ascertain the fact that Rove indeed was indeed responsible for the Plame leak, and that several members of the so-called liberal media were holding on to this information. That can only lead us to one logical conclusion -- THERE IS NO LIBERAL MEDIA. QED.


Monday, July 04, 2005

It's Over - Rove and Bush - Worse than Watergate

John W. Dean hit the nail on the head, with his 2004 book, Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. The Bush Administration operated for far too long in secrecy and unchecked, assuming they could get away with anything.

Finally, after years of mounting suspicion, the truth concerning the Valerie Plame leak is coming out - it was basically confirmed by Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, made the the statement that his client "never knowingly disclosed classified information." (Yahoo News) Lawrence O'Donnel is calling this the "I did not Inhale" defense. The key word is knowingly. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, it could mean a ten year sentence act for Rove if he knowingly revealed the Plame's name and undercover status to the media.

By telling us that Rove never knowingly disclosed classified information, Rove's lawyer is essentially confirming to us that Rove did leak Plame's identity - their defense is going to be to try and squirm around the law on the flimsy defense that Rove either assumed Plame's identity was already well known, so he assumed it was not classified information, or that he was simply unaware that her identity was classified. I simply cannot see a way that either of the of these defenses would not hold in court.

There are bigger issues at play here - From the statements of Laskin, We can pretty much conclude that Rove leaked the identity of Plame. The next thing to consider is Rove's motive for the revelation of Plame's identity. The obvious motive is the defamation of Joseph Wilson's character. Wilson was in the midst of a direct attack on Bush's campaign to convince congress and the American public that we should go to war. The campaign to go to war was based heavily on evidence that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Two of the primary exhibits used in the case for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq were the yellowcake uranium sale in Niger, and the anodized aluminum tubes purchases. The anodized aluminum tubes exhibit turned out to be a joke, as several leading scientists have since stated that the tubes could not be used for uranium enrichment.

The second primary piece of evidence was the supposed yellowcake uranium sale in Niger. Joseph Wilson was ready to completely contradict the administration's claim of the yellowcake uranium sale in Niger (What I didn't Find in Africa). Since they were determined to go to war, the administration had no choice but to smear Joseph Wilson, and discredit him as a reliable source. That was the primary motive of Karl Rove's revelation of the identity of Valerie Plame. The administration could not risk losing the momentum they had for building up the case for declaring war on Iraq, so they chose to reveal the identity of plame, putting her life at risk, and destroying an undercover CIA operation. This was a deliberate act of treason.

Now let's get back to the key - By revealing the identity of Plame in order to protect the case for War in Iraq, the administration has basically admitted to the American public that they knew all along that the evidence used in the case for War in Iraq was fraudulent. When you couple this with the Downing Street Memos, (The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy), a very strong case can be made to prove that the Bush Administration was deliberately lying to congress and the American public in an attempt to justify war. Lying to the American Public and to congress in order to justify war is itself was a breach of the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, if not an act of treason.

Finally, one last piece of discussion is just how Rove initially obtained the information necessary to leak Plame's identity. Someone must have leaked this information to Rove. Speculation is that this information may have either originated from the office of the Vice President, Dick Cheney, either from Cheney, or Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Another question to ask is just what the Bush Administration is hiding on Bolton? The administration desperately wants to push through the nomination of Bolton as the UN Ambassador, yet they refuse to reveal the secretive communication intercepts that Bolton received from the NSA. Is it possible that these communication intercepts have something to do with the Plame leak? Probably not, but with such a cloak of secrecy, we cannot rule it out.

Why does the Bush Administration feel that they can operate in such secrecy? How does this administration even think they can get away with operating in secrecy like this, and how does the media allow them to continue to operate under this cloak of secrecy?

It's time to put a stop to this incredible web of secrecy and deceit. The American public and the media must work together and demand an thorough investigation of PlameGate, the Downing Street Memos, and the Bolton communication intercepts. While were at it, why don't we demand the release of the records from the secret energy task force meetings with Dick Cheney back in 2001.

There ought to be a law against these sorts of things - an administration operating under a cloak of secrecy in the world's most powerful democratic nation is not a good thing. The Freedom of Information Act laws were passed for a reason. An open and honest government should be a guarantee in a free society, and the abuses of power by the Bush Administration must be put to an end.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Rove implicated in Plame Leak

Things are about to get ugly. According to Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, Karl Rove was the one responsible for the Valerie Plame leak, which will soon be revealed now that the source documents used by Matt Cooper were released by Time Magazine. Sources: Editor and Publisher, Daily Kos)

This revelation has very serious implications for the Bush Administration. For one, Rove has already testified in front of a Federal Grand Jury on the Valerie Plame case. If his testimony does not corroborate with this newfound evidence, Rove may be guilty of perjury. The same goes for Robert Novak, the pundit who initially leaked Plame's identity to the public.

President Bush's popularity is already at an all-time low. Recent polls have consistently shown Bush's approval rating in the 39-44% range (Bloomburg, CBS News) A recent Zogby poll showed that 42% of Americans favor impeachment of President George W. Bush (Zogby). That 42% comes without widespread media coverage of the Downing Street Memos, which will further the clamor for impeachment.

As Bush's chief political advisor, Karl Rove is very high up in the chain of command. If the news spreads that Bush's chief political advisor was responsible for the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent, primarily in an attempt to discredit a man trying to speak the truth, attempting to point out the deceit of the Bush administration and possibly arrest the declaration an unnecessary war, things could get very ugly very fast.

The leaking of Valerie Plame's identity was a massive abuse of power, and potentially, an act of treason. After Rove is officially implicated in this mess, the next big question is who revealed the identity of Plame to Karl Rove. Once the tangled web of deceit begins to come apart, it will become quite difficult for conspiracy to remain intact. It may well be that the Vice President, Dick Cheney is implicated in this affair as well, since it was the Office of the Vice President that appointed Wilson to the task of investigating the yellowcake uranium story in Niger.

The Jeff Gannon/J.D. Guckert story may also come back into the picture. Previously, it was rumored that Gannon had access to confidential documents that revealed Plame's source. Once it becomes apparent where the leak initially started from, it will be interesting to learn how Gannon was granted access to the confidential documents.

With the mess in Guantanamo, the administrations refusal to release the documents that are preventing the proceeding of Bolton's nomination vote, the missing $8 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, the Iraqi quagmire, the inability to push through social security reform, and the continual decline in Bush's approval rating, it sure looks like we are witnessing the beginnings of a lame duck presidency.


New Song - Mass Media

The Bush Administration has been responsible for an incredible amount of harm to the world and to the nation of the United States. The administration declared an illegal war based on false pretensions, and they stirred up a breeding ground of anti-American sentiment in the middle east. The administration inherited a decade of projected budget surpluses, and turned it into a decade of record budget deficits. These deficits were largely caused by the passing of a regressive tax policy that provided massive tax cuts to the richest 1% of the nation's population. They failed to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, ignoring scientific evidence of global warming, and doing great harm to the global cause of the environmental revolution. They gutted 50 years of environmental regulations, and passed laws that favored corporate interests and political contributors time and time again. They inexcusably used 9/11 and the War in Iraq as a scapegoat for all sorts of issues - including the trampling on of civil rights, with the passing of the Patriot Act, and the use of torture during the "fight for freedom".

Yet, somehow the administration was re-elected in 2004. Something is massively afoul in America. There is simply no justification for the re-election of George W. Bush. America is broken, and the democratic process that is supposed to provide us with checks and balances has failed us.

Where is the failure in the democratic process? It is the fourth estate - our media. Our media is supposed to be an independent entity from the ruling power - a built-in check to ensure that the government is not deceiving the citizens of the nation. But the media has failed us completely. Instead of calling the administration into accountability, the media has toed the party line of the neoconservative movement, and kowtowed to the administration - spoonfeeding the public information directly from the mouth of Scott McClellan and the right wing think tanks and political pundits, rather than doing the hard investigate work expected of journalists.

In any case where the media attempted to provide a dissident voice, they were quickly stomped upon and marginalized by the neoconservative attack machine - Look at the examples - ambassador Joseph Wilson had his wife, Valerie Plame, outed as a CIA agent. Newsweek was condemned and blamed for violence in the Middle East for publishing a story about Koran Abuse in Guananamo. Dan Rather's respectable 20-year career was destroyed by a story that has never been refuted concerning George W. Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard.

Compare and contrast the media's constant fixation with Bill Clinton's private sex scandal versus the almost complete silence in the media concerning the mendacity of the Bush Administration, and the Downing Street Memos. Yet the neocons continually complain about a supposed Liberal media bias - a bias, that, quite simply, does not exist.

This is a very important moment in American history - The neoconservative movement has pushed America to the brink of no return - a theocratic, aristocratic, imperialist and war-mongering nation. They control the presidency, the house and the senate, the media, and now Bush has the opportunity to appoint a new supreme court justice. It is time for the tide to turn - By now, the average American citizen must have begun to realize that things have turned much for the worse during Bush's five years in office.

It is time to educate ourselves about the unforgivable abuse of power by the neoconservative movement. If you are interested in learning more about how the neocons are abusing and misusing the media, take a look at the following books:

Also, check out the documentary, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.

I have written a new song, entitled Mass Media, dealing directly with this topic. Please take a moment to listen to or download this song, available at Audiostreet.com or Myspace.com.