Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Little Reflection

The sculpture, made of lead, is called Book With Wings (1992-1994) by Anselm Kiefer. Posted by Picasa

Year after year, year after year.
And yet I like to fly above the clouds
I am only skin and bones, like an old crane.


As far as Buddha Nature is concerned, there is no difference between a sinner and a sage....One enlightened thought and one is a Buddha, one foolish thought and one is again an ordinary person.


The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.

---Tennessee Williams

I've been relatively quiet everywhere the past few weeks. All my formal education was accomplished in New York and New England prior to the mid-1960s. I believe it was a good time and place to learn. It was quiet and there was peace. We looked at films from Italy, France, Sweden, and were amazed. We read books and tracts from all sorts of writers who found themselves categorized Existentialists---which apparently was some sort of philosophy...but Philosophy Departments refused to acknowledge them. There were demonstrations about Civil Rights and nuclear bomb testing---and sometimes things got very rough, but essentially they were peaceful, singing movements. Indochina, now called Viet Nam, only was beginning, but the Cold War had a showdown about Cuban missiles. Mostly I was comfortable remaining in 1-A draft status the whole time. During the part of my military physical in Maine when I got asked about possible unAmerican activities, I confessed to joining the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The sergeant examined his list of groups (that now would be categorized as "terrorist"), found only Black Shirts, Brown Shirts, Silver Shirts and said he'd never heard of my group. I never was called for Service, so got a job and started a family.

What I learned in school about a government seemed solid and I still believe it today. We were taught a ship of state sails most smoothly if there is a system of checks and balances. We may proceed slowly with all that stuff, but our progress will be sound and sure. Any branch of that government can become corrupt and falter. We can elect some palooka as our Executive. Congress can be infiltrated by robber barons and party bosses. The Supreme Court could bring the whole nation to a skidding stop with an interpretation of some obscure clause. But it would be next to impossible for all 3 branches to fail at the same time, leaving us at the mercy of the desperate mob. If that were to happen, the education I received provides no remedy. These past weeks, anticipating our election here in 3 more weeks, I've been thinking about that.

On Saturday mornings, while the rest of the house sleeps late, I like to catch up on email, articles, and the newspapers I missed during the workweek. This morning there turns out to be enough monumental disturbance to interrupt my reverie, pile all the stuff into a list, and ask if you see what I see.

Let's start with a Frank Rich column from a month ago, just after that 2-night ABC "docu-drama." Mr. Rich, who has a new book out, is an ideal commentator for our political times because essentially he's a theatre critic. This guy knows scripts, play- and screenwriting. One thing all Americans agree on is generally there's a hype (a term Webster says came to prominence in 1955) to everything. When he's really on, Frank Rich untangles it all like nobody's business. But now it's harder to find him---and there may be an intriguing story in just that. Several months ago, the administration of The New York Times, where he works, decided to charge money to read online the columns of Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and various other writers you and I probably have come to depend on. Well, another thing Americans generally agree on is nobody ever is sure just what or who the administration of The New York Times really is up to. Fortunately the Internet Underground and various friends, who are shelling over the money and thereby become the Select, do their best to distribute the best columns to the rest of us. For this piece of Rich brilliance, we can thank TruthOut~~~

Much of my silence was inspired by the legislation passed by Congress just before adjournment. The passage of the Torture Bill created one of the darkest days in the history of the republic. There was an audible moan that came out of the Internet, and my own was among them. My friend, Bryan Zepp, out on the West Coast, wrote one of the best reactions...and I urge it upon you~~~

Zepp begins his essay with mention of William Rivers Pitt, a former teacher who gave up his career a couple years ago, to devote himself fulltime to saving his country from downfall. His essay yesterday considers our history of these past 5 years~~~

Thursday Robert Parry assembled an argument to support a diagnosis of our President as perhaps hopelessly deluded. Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at

OK, what about it? Are these people just paranoid? Do any of us who may have some doubts about "staying the course" really have to be afraid we'll be disappeared? Here's The New York Times yesterday~~~

Documents Reveal Scope of U.S. Database on Antiwar Protests By ERIC LICHTBLAUWASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat.

And then, also yesterday, we read another report of how far Abramoff was able to burrow his influence into the Capitol~~~

Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to AbramoffBy James V. Grimaldi and Susan SchmidtWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, October 13, 2006; 1:32 AMFive conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.Officers of the groups "were generally available to carry out Mr. Abramoff's requests for help with his clients in exchange for cash payments," said the report, issued by the Senate Finance Committee. The report was written by the Democratic staff after a yearlong investigation and authorized by the Republican chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

And of course you know that our Ohio guy, Bob Ney, pleaded guilty yesterday, after months of denial of any wrongdoing. Tightly organized letterwriting campaigns saturated all the newspapers in the state with what a wonderful representative he is...and ain't it a shame if that bad Abramoff took advantage of his radiant character! Gee, just like "Denny" Hastert---whom Bush hugs in Chicago as another family man.

Then we have this new book coming out Monday by a man Bush hired to keep the Religious Right on the way to Republican Rapture. I guess David Kuo began to lose his faith in Faith-Based Initiatives after he kept hearing Rove refer to Evangelicals as "nuts." The UK Guardian has a good story on it~~~,,1922408,00.html

as does MSNBC, where Keith Olbermann continues to risk his life, breaking such stories~~~

Finally, we have a cheery report in yesterday's Guardian about how much it's going to cost the global economy to repair all the damage the Warming is going to cost.,,1922408,00.html

Well, undoubtedly this is the kind of thing our fearless free enterprisers have been waiting for. A cost to the global economy is retranslated as profits in their pockets. I guess I ought not complain. If Holy Jobs can be created by the environmental movement, maybe the species will start to move in a sane direction. You want to get really optimistic? Take a look at DuPont!

I'm trying to stay hopeful, folks. Let's see how the election goes and whether we've still got a chance. In the meantime, thank God, there are the Major League Playoffs!


jazzolog said...

The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies
By Frank Rich
The New York Times

Sunday 17 September 2006

Rarely has a television network presented a more perfectly matched double feature. President Bush's 9/11 address on Monday night interrupted ABC's "Path to 9/11" so seamlessly that a single network disclaimer served them both: "For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression."

No kidding: "The Path to 9/11" was false from the opening scene, when it put Mohamed Atta both in the wrong airport (Boston instead of Portland, Me.) and on the wrong airline (American instead of USAirways). It took Mr. Bush but a few paragraphs to warm up to his first fictionalization for dramatic purposes: his renewed pledge that "we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them." Only days earlier the White House sat idly by while our ally Pakistan surrendered to Islamic militants in its northwest frontier, signing a "truce" and releasing Al Qaeda prisoners. Not only will Pakistan continue to harbor terrorists, Osama bin Laden probably among them, but it will do so without a peep from Mr. Bush.

You'd think that after having been caught concocting the scenario that took the nation to war in Iraq, the White House would mind the facts now. But this administration understands our culture all too well. This is a country where a cable news network (MSNBC) offers in-depth journalism about one of its anchors (Tucker Carlson) losing a prime-time dance contest and where conspiracy nuts have created a cottage industry of books and DVD's by arguing that hijacked jets did not cause 9/11 and that the 9/11 commission was a cover-up. (The fictionalized "Path to 9/11," supposedly based on the commission's report, only advanced the nuts' case.) If you're a White House stuck in a quagmire in an election year, what's the percentage in starting to tell the truth now? It's better to game the system.

The untruths are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job. Maybe that's why I am beginning to find Dick Cheney almost refreshing. As we saw on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, these days he helpfully signals when he's about to lie. One dead giveaway is the word context, as in "the context in which I made that statement last year." The vice president invoked "context" to try to explain away both his bogus predictions: that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and that the insurgency (some 15 months ago) was in its "last throes."

The other instant tip-off to a Cheney lie is any variation on the phrase "I haven't read the story." He told Tim Russert he hadn't read The Washington Post's front-page report that the bin Laden trail had gone "stone cold" or the new Senate Intelligence Committee report(PDF) contradicting the White House's prewar hype about nonexistent links between Al Qaeda and Saddam. Nor had he read a Times front-page article about his declining clout. Or the finding by Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war that there was "no evidence of resumed nuclear activities" in Iraq. "I haven't looked at it; I'd have to go back and look at it again," he said, however nonsensically.

These verbal tics are so consistent that they amount to truth in packaging - albeit the packaging of evasions and falsehoods. By contrast, Condi Rice's fictions, also offered in bulk to television viewers to memorialize 9/11, are as knotty as a David Lynch screenplay. Asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News last Sunday if she and the president had ignored prewar "intelligence that contradicted your case," she refused to give up the ghost: "We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq," she insisted, as she continued to state again that "there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda" before the war.

Ms. Rice may be a terrific amateur concert pianist, but she's an even better amateur actress. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released only two days before she spoke dismissed all such ties. Saddam, who "issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with Al Qaeda," saw both bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as threats and tried to hunt down Zarqawi when he passed through Baghdad in 2002. As for that Zarqawi "poisons network," the Pentagon knew where it was and wanted to attack it in June 2002. But as Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News reported more than two years ago, the White House said no, fearing a successful strike against Zarqawi might "undercut its case for going to war against Saddam." Zarqawi, meanwhile, escaped.

It was in an interview with Ted Koppel for the Discovery Channel, though, that Ms. Rice rose to a whole new level of fictionalizing by wrapping a fresh layer of untruth around her most notorious previous fiction. Asked about her dire prewar warning that a smoking gun might come in the form of a mushroom cloud, she said that "it wasn't meant as hyperbole." She also rewrote history to imply that she had been talking broadly about the nexus between "terrorism and a nuclear device" back then, not specifically Saddam - a rather deft verbal sleight-of-hand.

Ms. Rice sets a high bar, but Mr. Bush, competitive as always, was not to be outdone in his Oval Office address. Even the billing of his appearance was fiction. "It's not going to be a political speech," Tony Snow announced, knowing full well that the 17-minute text was largely Cuisinarted scraps from other recent political speeches, including those at campaign fund-raisers. Moldy canards of yore (Saddam "was a clear threat") were interspersed with promising newcomers: Iraq will be "a strong ally in the war on terror." As is often the case, the president was technically truthful. Iraq will be a strong ally in the war on terror - just not necessarily our ally. As Mr. Bush spoke, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was leaving for Iran to jolly up Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Perhaps the only way to strike back against this fresh deluge of fiction is to call the White House's bluff. On Monday night, for instance, Mr. Bush flatly declared that "the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad." He once again invoked Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, asking, "Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia?"

Rather than tune this bluster out, as the country now does, let's try a thought experiment. Let's pretend everything Mr. Bush said is actually true and then hold him to his word. If the safety of America really depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad, then our safety is in grave peril because we are losing that battle. The security crackdown announced with great fanfare by Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki in June is failing. Rosy American claims of dramatically falling murder rates are being challenged by the Baghdad morgue. Perhaps most tellingly, the Pentagon has nowstopped including in its own tally the large numbers of victims killed by car bombings and mortar attacks in sectarian warfare.

And that's the good news. Another large slice of Iraq, Anbar Province (almost a third of the country), is slipping away so fast that a senior military official told NBC News last week that 50,000 to 60,000 additional ground forces were needed to secure it, despite our huge sacrifice in two savage battles for Falluja. The Iraqi troops "standing up" in Anbar are deserting at a rate as high as 40 percent.

"Even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude we are winning," John Lehman, the former Reagan Navy secretary, wrote of the Iraq war last month. So what do we do next? Given that the current course is a fiasco, and that the White House demonizes any plan or timetable for eventual withdrawal as "cut and run," there's only one immediate alternative: add more manpower, and fast. Last week two conservative war supporters, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, called for exactly that - "substantially more troops." These pundits at least have the courage of Mr. Bush's convictions. Shouldn't Republicans in Congress as well?

After all, if what the president says is true about the stakes in Baghdad, it's tantamount to treason if Bill Frist, Rick Santorum and John Boehner fail to rally their party's Congressional majority to stave off defeat there. We can't emulate our fathers and grandfathers and whip today's Nazis and Communists with 145,000 troops. Roosevelt and Truman would have regarded those troop levels as defeatism.

The trouble, of course, is that we don't have any more troops, and supporters of the war, starting with Mr. Bush, don't want to ask American voters to make any sacrifices to provide them. They don't want to ask because they know the voters will tell them no. In the end, that is the hard truth the White House is determined to obscure, at least until Election Day, by carpet-bombing America with still more fictions about Iraq.

jazzolog said...

Another fine essay on the Bush Torture Law has emerged~~~

Bush's Absolute Power Grab
By Carla Binion
October 21, 2006

Editor's Note: Many Americans are in denial about what is happening to the United States. They don't want to believe that a totalitarian structure could be put in place in their own country. They don't want to view the various pieces of George W. Bush's "anti-terror" system in that broad a context. They hope that someone or something -- the Supreme Court maybe -- will strike down the excesses of the Republican-controlled Congress and the Executive Branch.
Though there are still obstacles that stand in Bush's way -- the Nov. 7 elections, for instance -- America's march down a road to a new-age totalitarianism has advanced farther than many understand, as freelance reporter Carla Binion argues in this disturbing guest essay:

On October 17, George W. Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This new law gives Bush power similar to that possessed by Stalin or Hitler, and grants agencies within the Executive Branch powers similar to those of the KGB or Gestapo.

Bush justifies this act by claiming he needs it to fight the "war on terror," but a number of critics, including former counterterrorism officials, have said the administration has greatly exaggerated the threat and used illogical methods to combat terrorism. (Examples are listed below.)

Except for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, few television news reporters have bothered to mention that the Military Commissions Act has changed the U.S. justice system and our approach to human rights. As Olbermann said of the new law on his October 17 Countdown program, the new act "does away with habeas corpus, the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they have been imprisoned."

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor, was Olbermann's guest. Olbermann asked him, "Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?"

Turley responded, "It does. And it's a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president…People have no idea how significant this is. What, really a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values."

Although we have a free press, rather than follow Olbermann's good example, most television news reporters have responded to this nullification of America's fundamental principles by avoiding the subject. News networks which voluntarily relinquish their right and duty to challenge government officials function more as the Soviet Union's Pravda or Hitler's Nazi press program than as a genuinely free press.

Just as the mainstream media failed to adequately question the Bush administration's many shifting rationales for invading Iraq in the lead-up to the war, they're now failing to challenge Bush's logic and motives as he justifies eviscerating the Constitution in the name of his ever-expanding "war on terror." How realistic is this so-called war, and is the Bush administration conducting it effectively?

Robert Dreyfuss covers national security for Rolling Stone. He interviewed nearly a dozen former high-ranking counterterrorism officials about Bush's approach to the war on terrorism. In his article, "The Phony War," (Rolling Stone, 9/21/06) Dreyfuss says these officials conclude:

· The war on terror is bogus. Terrorism shouldn't be treated as if it were a nation to be battled with the military, but should instead be fought with police work and intelligence agencies.

· Terrorism is not an enemy, but a method. Even if the United States were to wipe out every terrorist cell in the world today, terrorism would be back tomorrow.

· Bush lacks a clear understanding of the nature of the "enemy" and has no real strategy for dealing with them.

· The Bush administration confuses the issue by grouping "Al Qaeda" with everything from Iraq's resistance movement to states such as Syria and Iran.

· Today, there's virtually no real "Al Qaeda threat" to Americans.

· Bush's policies have spawned a new generation of "amateur terrorists," but there are few of them, and they're not likely to pose a major threat to the U.S.

· Though Bush has said he will fight his "war" until every last terrorist is eliminated, terrorism can never be defeated, merely "contained and reduced."

Dreyfuss says, "In the short term, the cops and spies can continue to do their best to watch for terrorist threats as they emerge, and occasionally, as in London, they will succeed. But they are the first to admit that stopping a plot before it can unfold involved, more than anything, plain dumb luck."

Not only has the Bush administration falsely characterized and exaggerated the threat of terrorism; they have gone out of their way to mislead the public by claiming credit for preventing attacks. Dreyfuss points out that although Bush has claimed we've fended off 10 terrorist plots since 9/11, "on closer examination all 10 are either bogus or were to take place overseas."

Dreyfuss also notes that, although in 2002 the Bush administration leaked to the press that Al Qaeda had 5,000 "sleepers" in the U.S., there were, in fact, none. (Or, as Dreyfuss says, not a single one has been found.) If the administration believes the facts bolster their case for a war on terrorism, why do they find it necessary to leak false information?

The administration has done little to secure U.S. borders, ports, airports and nuclear facilities. What could logically explain their inattention to these vulnerabilities if they believe a terrorist threat here is likely? Bush has said he'll do anything it takes in order to protect the American people. Why hasn't he secured our nuclear facilities?

Exaggerating the terrorist threat does give the Bush team an excuse to seize more power for the Executive and shred the Constitution. In an article for Foreign Affairs (September/October 2006), political science professor John Mueller supports Dreyfuss's view that the war on terrorism is bogus.

Mueller points out that not only have there been no terrorist incidents here in the past five years, but there were none in the five years before 9/11. Mueller asks: "If it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could be so easily exploited?"

He also bolsters Dreyfuss's conclusion that the Bush administration can't take credit for the fact that we haven't been attacked again. He says, "the government's protective measures would have to be nearly perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the monumental imperfection of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI and National Security Agency programs to upgrade their computers to better coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems far-fetched."

Mueller addresses Bush's irrational argument that we're "fighting terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here." He points out that terrorists with Al Qaeda sympathies have managed to carry out attacks in a variety of countries (Egypt, Jordan Turkey, the United Kingdom), not merely in Iraq.

He adds that a reasonable explanation for the fact that no terrorists have attacked since 9/11 is that the terrorist threat "has been massively exaggerated." He notes that "it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed since 9/11 by Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-like operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States in a single year, and that the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 - about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor."

Although Bush's justification for the war on terror has been illogical and deceptive, the administration has used it as an excuse to abuse the U.S. military in Iraq, tear down our system of government at home and seize power on his own behalf. As Jonathan Turley told Keith Olbermann on his October 17th program, with the signing of the Military Commissions Act, "Congress just gave the president despotic powers…I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking - overtaking - almost absolute power."

Bush's many power grabs and refusal to submit to usual constitutional checks and balances indicates he prefers monarchy or dictatorship to the government set up by America's founders. The framers of our Constitution provided checks on tyranny by writing into law separation of powers, granting the legislative and judicial branches of government the ability to curb abuses by the executive. Today, the Congress has abdicated its constitutional obligation and serves only as a rubber stamp for the despotic president, and to date, the courts have done much the same.

Can George W. Bush be trusted with absolute power? Here are some things he has done with his unchecked power:

· Stolen two presidential elections.

· Exaggerated and falsely characterized the terrorist threat.

· Misled the country into war with Iraq.

· Urged the U.S. intelligence agencies to fix the intelligence around the Iraq war policy (as confirmed by the Downing Street Memo and other sources) in order to mislead the Congress and public into supporting war with Iraq.

· Abused human rights by promoting the use of torture and setting up virtual gulags.

· Suspended habeas corpus for some.

· Tried to silence political opposition by pronouncing them "weak on terrorism" or somehow "with the terrorists," and

· Placed himself above the law by issuing more legislation-challenging signing statements (around 800) than all of his predecessors put together.

Bush's unnecessary invasion of Iraq alone has cost nearly 3,000 American lives. An October 11, 2006 article by Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher says that a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "suggests that more than 600,000 Iraqis have met a violent or otherwise war-related end since the U.S. arrived in March 2003."

The Bush administration's policies have not only resulted in high death counts, but also in widespread, out of control torture. A September 22, 2006 Christian Science Monitor report says:

"The United Nation's special investigator on torture said Thursday that torture may now be worse in Iraq than it was during the regime of deposed leader Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press reports that Manfred Nowak, who was making a brief to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the treatment of detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, said the torture situation in Iraq was 'totally out of hand.'"

The CS Monitor mentions the fact that the recent compromise between the Bush White House and dissident Republicans (including Senator John McCain) allows torture to continue. The article quotes a Washington Post piece:

"The bad news is Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects…It's hard to credit the statement by [McCain] yesterday that 'there's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved.' In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent."

Congress has given Bush a blank check as he's bulldozed toward an imperial presidency. We have the outward forms of democratic institutions such as Congress and a so-called free press. However, the people currently managing those institutions behave as if they're being forced to serve a totalitarian dictator.

A perfect example of this surrender to Bush's virtual despotism is Congress's and the mainstream media's compliance regarding Bush's Military Commissions Act. While Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley see the extreme danger posed by Bush's authoritarian moves, Congress has done little to challenge Bush, and, overall, the press is eerily silent.

In The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, William L. Shirer said the Reich Press Law of October 4, 1933, ordered editors not to publish (among other things) anything which "tends to weaken the strength of the German Reich or offends the honor and dignity of Germany." According to Shirer, Max Amman, Hitler's top sergeant during the war and head of the Nazi Party's publishing firm and financial head of its press said that after the Nazis seized power in 1933, it was "a true statement to say that the basic purpose of the Nazi press program was to eliminate all the press which was in opposition to the party."

The U.S. mainstream press doesn't have to be coerced by a government Press Law to avoid publicly opposing Bush's most egregious policies. Television news networks, in particular, have voluntarily held back serious scrutiny. They have not only failed to discuss the recent Military Commissions Act at length, but in the run-up to the Iraq war, liberal talk show host Phil Donahue and comedian Bill Maher were fired for challenging the White House spin about Iraq and the 9/11 attacks.

Shirer also describes the ease with which the German Reichstag gave Hitler the power to change the nature of Germany's parliamentary democracy. He writes:

"One by one, Germany's most powerful institutions now began to surrender to Hitler and to pass quietly, unprotestingly, out of existence…It cannot be said they went down fighting. On May 19, 1933, the Social Democrats - those who were not in jail or in exile - voted in the Reichstag without a dissenting voice to approve Hitler's foreign policy."

Shirer concludes: "The one-party totalitarian state had been achieved with scarcely a ripple of opposition or defiance, and within four months after the Reichstag had abdicated its democratic responsibilities."

The U.S. Congress, like the German Reichstag, has abdicated its democratic responsibilities by granting Bush an inordinate amount of power - "with scarcely a ripple of opposition or defiance." The U.S. press has abandoned its role as democracy's watchdog by failing to question this development. Both of these institutions have failed the American people.

Considering Bush is using the war on terror to justify seizing undue power, both Congress and the media should question his reasoning and offer opposition. Just as they didn't effectively challenge the administration's shifting excuses for attacking Iraq, these institutions haven't scrutinized Bush's claims about the need for the Military Commissions Act and the apparently endless war on terrorism.

Among things Congress and the media should challenge is George W. Bush's false claim that the United States does not torture. In an article published at the site, journalist Molly Ivins reports that in one case of death from torture by Americans, the military at first said the prisoner's death was caused by a heart attack. Ivins adds that the coroner later said the heart attack occurred after the prisoner "had been beaten so often on his legs that they had 'basically been pulpified.'"

She adds that the Bush administration's officially sanctioning torture "throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems necessary -- these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law." Ivins isn't inclined to hyperbole, yet she says of Americans' passive acceptance of this new law: "Do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis."

As Jonathan Turley said on Olbermann's program, "I think you can feel the judgment of history. It won't be kind to President Bush. But frankly, I don't think that it will be kind to the rest of us. I think that history will ask, 'Where were you? What did you do when this thing was signed into law?' There were people that protested the Japanese concentration camps; there were people that protested these other acts. But we are strangely silent in this national yawn as our rights evaporate."

Future generations will wonder why the U.S. Congress and mainstream press helped Bush build up an imperial presidency and eliminate Constitutional protections. If they're able to sort through the administration's fallacies and lies and clearly see what went wrong with America during this time, they'll wonder why there were so few Molly Ivins's, Keith Olbermann's and Jonathan Turley's.

Coming generations will also ask why by comparison there were so many who failed to notice the obvious holes in Bush's logic and why so many turned a blind eye to his numerous false assertions and cruel policies. They'll wonder why so many supported, whether by direct action or by silence, the Bush administration's changing the fundamental nature of the democratic Republic we were given by America's founders, based on the flimsy excuse of fighting a war on terrorism - a "war" Bush defines falsely and fights ineffectively.

Generations to come might ask why this president who lied so often, about Iraq and other critical matters, was ever entrusted with enough power to damage this country's founding principles and wage endless, unprovoked war on other nations. If Congress and the media would ask these questions now, they might prevent Bush from doing further harm. This might save many lives, prevent much unnecessary suffering and possibly steer this country out of its present darkness.


Carla Binion is a freelance researcher and writer whose essays have been published at various Web sites.

jazzolog said...

The Internet is intense with entries and essays flying on all sides, as election countdown here in the States brings us toward 2 weeks remaining. There's too much to read, too much to discuss, and tensions are mounting---if only to find a diversion away from it all. I'll not add my voice to the din, except for reference to 2 items---one of the them very important that you may not know about, and the other hopefully entertaining.

The first came to my attention yesterday, as the November 2 issue of Rolling Stone reached our mailbox. You should recall that late last month Robert F. Kennedy Jr. contributed a followup to his summary essay on voting irregularities in this country. The title and the target of the work is about the ease with which American electronic voting can be hacked and manipulated. What sense is there in getting worked up about candidates and bothering to go to the polls if the whole election is decided by crooks in cyberspace? The President of Diebold Election Systems Inc, main winner of the mandatory corporate bid, immediately flew to the defense of his company with a letter to the editor. Kennedy replied, and I highly recommend the exchange. What's online is more complete than the edition in the magazine...and it begins here~~~

The other matter is an emailing from If for some odd reason MoveOn hasn't found your addy yet...or you just missed's a Halloween greeting from horror writer Stephen King~~~

Dear MoveOn member,

If I know anything, I know scary. And giving this president and this out-of-control Congress two more years to screw up our future is downright terrifying. Thankfully, this national nightmare is one we can end with —literally— a wake up call.

My friends at Political Action are organizing a big round of national phone parties this weekend before Halloween, Oct. 28th & 29th. We'll be calling progressive folks in key districts who may not turn out unless they get a friendly reminder or two.

And since it's almost Halloween, we'll celebrate with an optional costume contest, some pumpkin carving (I'll be making a Jack-Abramoff-O'-Lantern) and —of course— plenty of candy.

Please click the link below to R.S.V.P. for the nearest party, or to sign up to host your own:

I don't need to tell you how important this is —you've already gotten involved. Now the polls are telling us the election is neck and neck and this Novemeber is our best shot in over a decade to turn things around.

You might wonder if these reminder calls to voters actually help. I did, too. It turns out MoveOn tested this whole Call for Change program on some early elections this year, and it produced the biggest increase in actual votes of any volunteer phone bank ever studied.

The failure in Iraq and the recent string of scandals have put a bunch of new districts into play. That means there are more voters to call than anyone planned, and every call we make at a party this weekend will reach a key voter who otherwise would have been missed.

Come November 8th, we're all going to kick ourselves if we ignored any close races and then lost the majority in Congress by a hair. These parties are our chance to make sure that doesn't happen.

Can you help end our national nightmare this Halloween weekend? Sign up to attend or host a local Call for Change Halloween party this weekend:

–Stephen King
Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Well guys, maybe he didn't really write it, I don't know. Sometimes celebrities just give their names to projects like this, but the point is clear: if Stephen King is afraid, I guess I ought to be concerned too!

jazzolog said...

Hopefully you know, particularly voters in Ohio, that Secretary of State, Election Supervisor, and gubernatorial hopeful Kenneth Blackwell has been very upset since 2004 about those discrepancies between the exit polls and the final victory outcome. How could the answers those voters gave just after casting their ballots be so different from the actual results? Not a man to do nothing about an identified problem, he set to work. Did he investigate thoroughly those electronic voting machines and reports of numbers jumping all over computer screens? His ever-lovin' and omniscient spokesman Carlo LoParo reports that he did. And his conclusion? Exit polltakers actually are loitering out there and should be removed. There obviously is no good reason the busy voter should be delayed in his ongoing everyday by some guy with a clipboard. Blackwell constructed new regulations banning exit polls anywhere around voting sites. You won't be troubled by disturbing results from Ohio this year...or Florida and Nevada either, where there are similar new regs.

Or will you?

Media Challenges Ohio Exit Poll Rules
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; 3:18 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio's new guidelines on conducting exit polls on Election Day, written after a judge threw out the old rules, are vague and confusing and should be rejected, a coalition of national news organizations argues in a lawsuit.

In the suit, television networks ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News and NBC and The Associated Press ask U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson to spell out the rules for county election boards in his own words and force Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to post them so the plaintiffs can interview voters leaving polling places on Nov. 7...

The lawsuit filed Monday says Blackwell's latest guidelines, issued Oct. 13, begin by stating that loitering and delaying voters are prohibited and only later say that the judge specifically allowed exit polling.

"The October 13 directive deliberately flouts this court's judgment, decree and injunction and is a direct affront to this court's authority," the lawsuit says.