Smearing Blix: Wolfowitz ordered CIA to investigate UN weapons inspector

Cursor links to this Global Research report on more Bush shenanigans involving the selling of war with Iraq:
Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, was so eager to see the United States launch a preemptive strike against Iraq in early 2002, that he ordered the CIA to investigate the past work of Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, who in February 2002, was asked to lead a team of U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, in an attempt to undermine the scientist.

The unusual move by Wolfowitz underscores the steps the Bush administration was willing to take a year before the U.S. invaded Iraq to manipulate and or exaggerate intelligence information to support it’s claims that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the United States and that the only solution to quell the problem was the use of military force.
Full text here.


The power of linguistics

Looking into George Bush's use of "dependency-creating language," Renana Brooks points out how the president slyly uses language as a political tool. From the use of empty language (words so abstract they're nearly impossible to oppose) to personalizing (distracting an audience from content by focusing on the speaker's personality), he's got an arsenal of strategies. Perhaps the scariest: negative framework:
A negative framework is a pessimistic image of the world. Bush creates and maintains negative frameworks in his listeners' minds with a number of linguistic techniques borrowed from advertising and hypnosis to instill the image of a dark and evil world around us. Catastrophic words and phrases are repeatedly drilled into the listener's head until the opposition feels such a high level of anxiety that it appears pointless to do anything other than cower.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, in his extensive studies of "learned helplessness," showed that people's motivation to respond to outside threats and problems is undermined by a belief that they have no control over their environment. Learned helplessness is exacerbated by beliefs that problems caused by negative events are permanent; and when the underlying causes are perceived to apply to many other events, the condition becomes pervasive and paralyzing.

Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate.
Read it all.

"I'd rather teach peace."

Coleman McCarthy is truly one of my heroes. A former Washington Post columnist and founder of the Center for Teaching Peace, he's made it his life's mission to see that conflict resolution gets equal time as the study of war in America's classrooms. Excerpts from an interview in Hope magazine:
You can send a group of pacifists to a scene of conflict, and a certain number are killed or wounded. What's society's judgment? "The damned idiots!" Send in an army loaded with weapons and a certain number are killed or wounded. What's the judgment? "That's war, no problem." The double standard persists.

* * *

...U.S foreign policy is based on the "izes": theorize, demonize, victimize, and rationalize. Bush theorized about Iraq's threat, he demonized Saddam Hussein, he victimized Iraqis at the other end of the bombing runs, and then rationalized it as the way to peace.

Two types of violence exist: hot and cold. Hot is felt, visceral, visual, obscenely cruel, immediate, and well-reported by the media: the World Trade Center, the Columbine High School massacre, the sniper attacks in Washington. Cold violence is unfelt, distant, out of sight, and generally ignored by the media: the 40,000 people who die of hunger-related or preventable diseases every day. Executions on death row. The 12 million animals killed every day for food. But how can we be selective about violence? The victims are dead either way. Yet selectivity prevails. On September 11, September 12, September 13 -- and all days since, 40,000 people died of hunger and preventable diseases. Why so little attention to that violence?

* * *

George W. Bush is not the problem. Nor is the high-spending Congress that oils the war machine. I'm the problem. I need to figure out how to be a better husband, a better father, a better writer, a better teacher. And all of us need to figure out what our commitments are, and do more to fulfill them. On one of his good days, Gandhi had it right: "If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed--but hate these things in yourself, not in another." Tolstoy--with whom Gandhi exchanged many letters--had the same thought: "Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing themselves."

How to feed Africa

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and aren't fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.

--Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
If it wasn't such a serious topic, it'd almost be funny: George W. Bush blames the European Union's ban on genetically modified foods for starvation in Africa. But critics believe his hyperbolic point of view, proffered at the EU summit this week, reveals a focus not on the horror of African hunger, but on a global biotech market that will grow to $2 trillion by 2010--a market that the US controls by a margin of two to one. "He can only have been informed by the multinationals, the Monsantos of this world, to make a statement that displays as much ignorance as that," said Patrick Holden of the environmental group Soil Association."It is nonsense. Even serious experts on GM crops will concede there is no evidence that GM foodstuff can make any greater contribution to feeding the world than existing agricultural science." One such expert, Aaron deGrassi of the University of Sussex, UK, conducted a study called, "Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Assessment of Current Evidence." Tracking GM sweet potatoes and maize in Kenya and GM cotton in South Africa, the study concluded that Holden is correct. One news report summarizes the conclusions, "The answer to Africa's poverty and food shortage problems does not lie in biotechnology," adding:
The findings reveal that GM crops do not offer any answers to soil fertility, resistance to genes by pests among other problems faced by the farmers of the three crops. It also clear that biotechnology is not the answer to corruption, declining commodity prices, inequality in land distribution and ownership, income disparities, and armed conflicts which are some of the major cause of poverty/hunger in Africa.
According to Diet for a Small Planetauthor Frances Moore Lappe, the question isn't whether the world has enough food, it's why the food doesn't get to those who need it. Consider: "For every human being on the planet, the world produces two pounds of grain per day--roughly 3,000 calories, and that's without even counting all the beans, potatoes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables we eat, too. This is clearly enough for all of us to thrive; yet nearly one in six of us still goes hungry."

While the majority of Americans don't want genetically modified foods (according to a new study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 55% of Americans--and a European high 89% of the French--believe GM fruits and vegetables are bad), it turns out neither do people in Africa: during a food shortage in Zambia last year, the country refused thousands of tons of genetically modified maize and opted to wait for a shipment of non-GM goods instead. "We are not going to accept GM food until there is world consensus on its safety for human consumption," said Zambia's Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Dipak Patel. Offering evidence that hunger in African can be solved without GM solutions, Zambia's president announced last week that this year the country expects to nearly double last year's 600,000 tons of grain production.

While around half the world's population--some 35 countries including Japan, China, Australia, and Saudi Arabia--prohibit genetically modified foods, the Bush administration has filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization seeking to force the European Union to drop their ban on genetically modified foods. As Amadou Kanoute of the African office of Consumers International said on Tuesday, "How can one country decide for another country without taking into account the opinion of the other country's people?"

Download a copy of "Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Assessment of Current Evidence," published by Third World Network-Africa, here.



As the word "quagmire" re-enters the headlines, nearly dormant since Vietnam, Alternet's Jim Lobe assesses the situation in Iraq: a USA Today headline on Thursday reported "U.S. Troops May Be In Iraq for 10 Years: Defense officials reportedly seek up to 54 billion dollars a year." Morale is tanking (a sergeant stationed in Iraq told the Washington Post, "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"). The number of troops still in Iraq--150,000, with some 30,000 more provided by coalition partners on the way--is fast approaching the 200,000-troop estimate pooh-poohed as "wildly off the mark" by Paul Wolfowitz when predicted by former army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki. Soldiers are still being killed at a rate of one every two days, despite the fact that Bush has proclaimed the war over.

Lobe asks: "So why are we in this handbasket? Is it the result of grave errors of judgment or part of a neoconservative master plan?"


More on Kerry

Hmm, perhaps a bit of clarification is in order. Lest it seem like I'm a big John Kerry booster, let me just say: I'm not. I will be if he's the Democratic nominee facing off against Bush, and if no amazing third-party candidate enters the race. I'd prefer Howard Dean's backbone or Dennis Kucinich's progressive innovation over another Al Gore, but, when it comes down to Election Day, I'll be voting for whoever has the best shot at ousting Bush. And perhaps Kerry/Clark could do it. Perhaps.

Still, I realize that, posting something touting Kerry's Purple Hearts (which say little about his abilities to govern) right before the MoveOn primaries might seem like, well, bias. So I'd direct you, again, to the Boston Globe's comprehensive series, which includes Kerry's voting record, some of the controversies surrounding his antiwar (and pro-war: he supported the most recent Gulf War) activities, and his climbing of the political ladder. Read it, then decide for yourself.

For other viewpoints, particularly on Kerry's recent war views, see Noam Chomsky's 1998 ZNet article:
Senator John Kerry added that it would be "legitimate" for the U.S. to invade Iraq outright if Saddam "remains obdurate and in violation of the United Nations resolutions, and in a position of threat to the world community," whether the Security Council so determines or not. Such unilateral U.S. action would be "within the framework of international law," as Kerry conceives it. A liberal dove who reached national prominence as an opponent of the Vietnam War, Kerry explained that his current stand was consistent with his earlier views. Vietnam taught him that the force should be used only if the objective is "achievable and it meets the needs of your country." Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was therefore wrong for only one reason: it was not "achievable," as matters turned out.
Or read the letter from a Veterans for Peace activist to Kerry after his vote to support George W. Bush's war in Iraq.

(Thanks, Heather.)

Vote Today!


John Kerry + Wesley Clark?

While I lean more toward Rep. Dennis Kucinich's unabashed liberalism or Gov. Howard Dean's chutzpah, I'm intrigued by Joe Conason's Democratic dream ticket: John Kerry and Wesley Clark. To counter Karl Rove's campaign strategy of casting Bush as a strong "wartime" president, this ticket would pair two progressives who are also highly decorated veterans. Kerry won five Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star, then went on to join Vietnam Veterans for Peace; Clark graduated first in his class at West Point, was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, and ended his military career as the four-star supreme allied commander of NATO. Bush, as you might recall, decided not to complete his Vietnam-era tour with the Texas Air National Guard. While Kerry is a bit difficult to pin down (see the Boston Globe's excellent series on the Massachusetts senator), Clark seems to make good sense:
In an interview with The American Prospect magazine last March, he articulated an outlook that would serve the Democrats well. "Terrorism is a multilateral problem," he told Michael Tomasky. "You cannot defeat it in one nation. You need international police work, teamwork, international harmonization of laws against terror. You act unilaterally, you lose the commitment of your allies to make it work. That’s the one thing that will kill you in the war on terrorism." To him, America represents "the embodiment of the Enlightenment," which calls for "a foreign policy of generosity, humility, engagement, and of course force where it is needed. But as a last resort."
Don't forget, MoveOn's online Democratic primary starts tomorrow and lasts 48 hours. Learn about the candidates, then register for free to vote.

Bove jailed

Jose Bove, the French farmer who became a figurehead of the anti-globalization movement when he helped dismantle a McDonald's in protest, has been arrested for destroying genetically modified crops. Eighty cops stormed Bove's home in France to haul him off to serve a 10-month sentence.


My Day of Meats

The same day I finished Ruth Ozeki's fascinating Fast Food Nation-style novel My Year of Meats (complete with gory scenes of beef slaughter run amok, a 5-year old girl whose perfectly mature breasts are the result of livestock hormones, and the preemptive use of antibiotics on healthy chickens--surprisingly profound and entertainingly written), I picked up Frances Moore Lappe's new book Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. "To get just one calorie of food energy from steak, we burn 54 irreplaceable fossil-fuel calories," she writes, "so producing one pound of steak--providing less than 1,000 calories--uses up 45,000 fossil fuel calories." It was also that day when none other than McDonald's offered yet another reason to give up factory-farmed meat: antibiotics used in meat production can lower the effectiveness of antibiotic use in humans. Currently an estimated 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs in the United States are given to healthy pigs, cows and chickens to promote growth and prevent disease. The AP reports on McDonald's new policy about buying meat treated with antibiotics:
Under the four-page policy, McDonald's is telling its direct suppliers - which provide most of its poultry and 20 percent of all its meat - to phase out the use of antibiotics that promote growth in animals by the end of 2004. They will be asked to submit annual certifications testifying they are complying and face periodic audits.

Indirect suppliers, those providing beef and pork, also are being encouraged to stop the practice or risk losing business clout with one of the world's largest meat buyers. McDonald's said those seeking preferred status will have to certify compliance and maintain records of their antibiotic use.

The new policy does not prohibit the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals.
Kudos to McDonald's, but, regardless, I'm switching to grass-fed, or none at all.

For related resources, visit Ruth Ozeki's excellent links page or the Organic Consumers Association website.

WorldCom in Iraq

According to Molly Ivins, perpetrating the worst accounting fraud in American history doesn't disqualify you from cashing in on the great Iraqi gold rush. Just like Halliburton (accused of bribery in Nigeria), WorldCom is there.

With a track record like this...

Time for a recap:

1. Al-Qaeda is still active, and Osama bin Laden is allegedly still alive.

2. So is Saddam.

3. The weapons of mass destruction haven't yet been found in Iraq, and

4. Afghanistan is incredibly unstable, some say on the brink of anarchy, with skirmishes continuing (seven rockets were fired recently at a US base).

5. American GIs continue to die in Iraq, while

6. living conditions worsen for its citizens.

7. And North Korea is still flailing about trying to get attention for its nuclear arms program.

With this kind of track record, what's the Bush administration doing picking a fight with Iran? Does the US have the knowhow, not to mention the budget and public support, to knock yet another Islamic country off its hinges?


The truth about Cynthia McKinney

Greg Palast seeks out the truth about former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who lost her re-election bid when NPR, The New York Times, and others quoted her as saying the Bush administration may have known about the September 11 attacks beforehand. Problem is, she never said anything of the sort.

But wait, there's more to the story than that.

* * *
UPDATE 6/20: Transcripts of a speech given by Rep. McKinney to the Congressional Black Caucus in September 2002 reveal what McKinney did say:
And after I've asked the tough questions, here's what we now know:

* That President Bush was warned that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and crash them into buildings in the US;
* That in the weeks prior to September 11, 24-hour fighter cover was placed over the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas;
* That in the weeks prior to September 11, Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft and instead flew Government aircraft;
* That the US received numerous high level warnings from a wide range of foreign intelligence services warning of impending hijackings and terrorist attacks;
* That a number of FBI agents were pleading with their superiors to conduct intensive investigations into the suspicious activities of various men in US flight schools;
* That in the days prior to September 11, highly suspicious stock market activity in aviation and insurance stocks took place indicating that certain well-placed people had advance knowledge of the attacks.

And now this week we learn that the FBI had an informant living with two of the actual 9-1-1 hijackers. All of this has become public knowledge since I asked the simple question: What did the Bush Administration know and when did it know it.
(Thanks for the link, dear reader whose e-mail I accidentally deleted.)

Brilliant author, bumbling dad

Reading The New York Times magazine this weekend, it was nice--after reading about how video games are turning our kids into cyborgs--to find excerpts from Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1851 journal entries. Reading his charming account of a bumbling stint as the solo parent of a 5-year-old while his wife was away reminded me that, in lots of ways, kids haven't changed all that much:
Thursday, July 31: At about 6 o'clock, I looked over the edge of my bed, and saw that Julian was awake, peeping sideways at me out of his eyes, with a subdued laugh in them. So we got up; and first I bathed him, and then myself; and afterward I proposed to curl his hair. I forgot to say that I attempted the same thing the morning before last, and succeeded miraculously ill; indeed, it was such a failure that the old boy burst into a laugh at the first hint of repeating the attempt. However, I persisted, and screwed his hair round a stick, till I almost screwed it out of his head; he all the time squealing and laughing, between pain and merriment. He endeavored to tell me how his mother proceeded; but his instructions were not very clear, and only entangled the business so much the more. But, now that his hair is dry, it does not look so badly as might have been expected.


Free Suu Kyi or lose aid

Japan threatened today to cut aid to Burma unless the country's ruling junta frees the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Right on.


Kids, spam, and porn

From Wired News:
Four out of five children receive inappropriate spam e-mail touting get-rich-quick schemes, and almost half receive spam linking to pornographic materials, according to a study released Monday by an Internet security company.

A substantial number of the 1,000 children ages 7 to 18 interviewed for the survey by Symantec said they felt "uncomfortable and offended when seeing improper e-mail content."

"Parents need to educate their children about the dangers of spam and how they can avoid being exposed to offensive content or becoming innocent victims of online fraud," said Steve Cullen, Symantec's senior vice president for consumer products. One in five children opened and read spam, the study found, and more than half of them checked e-mail without parental oversight.

Among the other findings in the survey:
• 80 percent of the respondents said they are bombarded by sweepstakes messages.
• 62 percent received spam touting dating services.
• 47 percent received e-mails with links to pornographic websites.
• 34 percent have felt uncomfortable receiving spam.


Despite a net worth of $1.5 million, Republican senator Richard Lugar paid no income tax last year. (Via BuzzFlash.)

Marjorie Kelly: From Greed to Grace

Encompassing themes from Enron-style greed (and its alternatives) to women's spirituality, author-editor Valerie Andrews interviews Marjorie Kelly, editor of Business Ethics magazine and author of The Divine Right of Capital.
Andrews: Most of us dream of making the world a better place, yet we also have to pay the mortgage. Can we address our material and spiritual needs in a single breath? For example, coins originally had pictures of the gods engraved on them. They were viewed as talismans of good fortune and representatives of good faith. How can we reclaim a view of money as a sacred element in our lives?

Kelly: Money is a kind of a talisman -- when it comes to you, you can make anything you choose from it. It's like a wish that's magically granted, and the first question is, "What are you going to do with it?" Of course we need to be aware that money has its own rules, and these must be heeded. But how different would our lives be if we could get rid of our fear of scarcity and think of its potential to unite us?

We mistakenly believe that if we pile up enough money we'll be safe forever. Yet in that pursuit, we end up making everyone else unsafe. What do you think the CEO of Enron was trying to do? He was trying to shore up his own domain and in the process, he destabilized the entire stock market. This notion that we can exist apart from community, insulating ourselves with money, is sad and also very dangerous.
Read the full interview.

(Thanks, John K.)

Cousins on a free society

"What is the eternal and ultimate problem of a free society? It is the problem of the individual who thinks that one man cannot possibly make a difference in the destiny of that society. It is the problem of the individual who doesn't really understand the nature of a free society or what is required to make it work. It is the problem of the individual who has no comprehension of the multiplying power of single but sovereign units. It is the problem of the individual who regards the act of pulling a single lever in a voting booth in numerical terms rather than historical terms. It is the problem of the individual who has no real awareness of the millions of bricks that had to be put into place, one by one, over many centuries, in order for him to dwell in the penthouse of freedom. Nor does he see any special obligation to those who continue building the structure or to those who will have to live in it after him, for better or worse. It is the problem of the individual who recognizes no direct relationship between himself and the decisions made by government in his name. Therefore, he feels no special obligation to dig hard for the information necessary to an understanding of the issues leading to those decisions. In short, freedom's main problem is the problem of the individual who takes himself lightly historically."

--Norman Cousins (1915-1990)


DeLay tactics

When told by an employee that smoking is prohibited in US government buildings, Rep. Tom Delay reportedly said, "I AM the federal government." According to Paul Krugman, "DeLay is more radical — and more powerful — than Mr. Gingrich ever was." Yikes: he calls the Environmental Protection Agency "the Gestapo," he fought for Clinton's impeachment because Clinton didn't share DeLay's view of politics as a tool for promoting a "biblical worldview," and he called out the Office of Homeland Security to round up Texas state representatives (Democrats, mind you) who opposed DeLay's plans to redistrict the state. Read all about it.

Glitches, miscounts, voter fraud

Be very afraid of electronic voting. That's the gist of Doug Pibel's article in Yes! The Journal of Positive Futures. (Thanks, Bill.)


Questioning Condi

Rep. Henry Waxman asks Condoleeza Rice: "Since March 17, 2003, I have been trying without success to get a direct answer to one simple question: Why did President Bush cite forged evidence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in his State of the Union address?"

Fess up

Despite the fact that WE WANT TO KNOW, top Republican lawmakers have rejected Democratic pleas to open an investigation into the Bush WMD intelligence fiasco. Case closed? Who knows, but assuage your frustratinon by clicking here and telling Congress to force Bush to reveal what he knew about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

(Or check out Act for Change's other opportunities for online activism.)

Quote of the Day

Joe Lieberman says he's the only democrat who could beat George Bush… Wait-- Did he say "beat" or "be"?
Huey Freeman, in Aaron McGruder's comic strip Boondocks.

Rummy bullies NATO

The Bush Administration again sets the gold standard for global justice and unity:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld effectively threatened Belgium today that it risked losing its status as host to NATO's headquarters if it did not rescind a law that has been used to lodge accusations of war crimes against American officials.

"We will have to seriously consider whether we can allow our civilian and military officials to come to Belgium," Mr. Rumsfeld said, adding that NATO could easily hold meetings elsewhere.

The blunt language served to stir up resentment against the United States here just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was mending internal divisions over the war in Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld made his remarks at an evening news conference at which he said the United States would withhold financing for a new NATO headquarters building as long as the Belgian law remained on the books. His criticism, diplomats complained, was sure to fuel nationalist sentiments here and complicate the Belgian government's efforts to unwind the legislation.
Full story.

Trailers of Mass Destruction

Colin Powell told the UN in February about Iraq's "biological weapons factories on wheels":"mobile production systems mounted on road trailer units"–18 of them, to be precise–that "can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people." With no such trailers discovered in Iraq, Michelangelo Signorile does an investigation of his own, and concludes: "The ease with which people can now acquire trailers on the open market is horrifying and is a major concern for national security." (Via Cursor.)

US hypocrisy on war crimes

The US is turning up the heat on the countries of the Balkans and eastern Europe to secure war crimes immunity deals for Americans and exemptions from the year-old international criminal court.

In an exercise in brute diplomacy which is causing more acute friction with the European Union following the rows over Iraq, the US administration is threatening to cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to the countries of the Balkans unless they reach bilateral agreements with the US on the ICC by the end of this month.

The American campaign, which is having mixed results, is creating bitterness and cynicism in the countries being intimidated, particularly in the successor states of former Yugoslavia which perpetrated and suffered the worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Nazis. They are all under intense international pressure, not least from the Americans, to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

"Blatant hypocrisy," said Human Rights Watch in New York on Tuesday of the US policy towards former Yugoslavia.

Threatened with the loss of $73m (44m pounds) in US aid, Bosnia signed the exemption deal last week just as Slovenia rejected American pressure and cut off negotiations.
Full report.


Blix speaks

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix admits that the Bush administration leaned on him to provide more damning language on Iraq's weapons programs to sway US critics on the UN security council. He also described the Pentagon's smear campaign against him: "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media. Not that I cared very much... It was like a mosquito bite in the evening that is there in the morning, an irritant."

Moyers for President?

We could use a presidential candidate like Bill Moyers, but unfortunately he ain't running. Writing for The Nation, John Nichols says that the real star of the recent Take Back America conference wasn't a Democratic candidate, but a fiery Moyers. Delivering a call to arms against "government of, by and for the ruling corporate class," Moyers' speech was described as "amazing and spellbinding" by legal scholar Jamie Raskin and brought Frances Moore Lappe to tears. Nichols writes:
Comparing the excesses of [Mark] Hanna and Rove, and [William] McKinley and Bush, Moyers said "the social dislocations and the meanness of the 19th century " were being renewed by a new generation of politicians who, like their predecessors, seek to strangle the spirit of the American revolution "in the hard grip of the ruling class."

To break that grip, Moyers said, progressives of today must learn from the revolutionaries and reformers of old. Recalling the progressive movement that rose up in the first years of the 20th century to "restore the balance between wealth and commonwealth," and the successes of the New Dealers who turned progressive ideals into national policy, Moyers told the crowd to "get back in the fight." "Hear me!" he cried. "Allow yourself the conceit to believe that the flame of democracy will never go out as long as there is one candle in your hand."

While others were campaigning last week, Moyers was tending the flame of democracy. In doing so, he unwittingly made himself the candle holder-in-chief for those who seek to spark a new progressive era.
Read the entire speech at Common Dreams.

Arthur Miller: What I've Learned

The famed playwright offers up his list of wisdom, gleaned over 87 years. A sample:
I've always done things physical. When I was about six, I made a go-cart. You couldn't steer it and you'd be doing thirty miles an hour down the street, but I remember telling my brother, "Pretty good for my own making." He always used to kid me about that sentence.

* * *

Some failures are right. And some people fail because society isn't ready for them. That's what makes it so difficult.

* * *

To write any kind of imaginary work, you gotta fall on your sword. You gotta be ready to be blasted out of existence. Lots of times, the blood is on the floor.
(Via Cursor)

Eggs: The final frontier for marketers?

Marketing seems to have weaseled into every nook and cranny, public or private, from billboards over urinals to Got Milk stickers on bananas at the supermarket, e-mail spam to cellphone text messages announcing Madonna's new concert tour. As BadAds reports, now even our ovoid proto-chicken friends are fair game for mini-billboards: Quebec-based Egg Ads Media has begun selling ad space on eggs. Get a load of their spiel:
Egg Ads Media offers you a cutting-edge visual contact solution aimed at increasing the spontaneous memorization of your brand.

The very symbol of the egg triggers positive associations, including health, simplicity, purity, speed, and versatility. Though we may be unaware of the impact, these common, everyday associations are known to attract and reassure the consumer, thereby promoting the spontaneous memorization of an advertisement message.
Uh. Right. They claim the distinguished ability of being able to apply polymer labels onto 100 million eggs a year. What unexplored frontier might marketers tackle next? Walnut shells?


Kucinich and the family farm

I'm liking Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich more and more. Not only has he introduced a Resolution of Inquiry forcing the White House to substantiate it's claims of Iraq's WMDS ("The President led the nation to war, and spent at least $63 billion on that war, on the basis of these unfounded assertions.”), but he's also making corporate control of agriculture a campaign issue. Focusing on family farmers, he vows to break corporate farm monopolies by banning meat packers from also raising livestock. Other elements of his ag policy:

- Providing incentives for farmers to join collective bargaining units to deal with large agribusinesses.

- Labeling food that contains genetically modified ingredients.

- Focusing the Department of Agriculture on family farms, rural communities, the environment and consumers.

- Establishing new air and water quality protections.

- Investing federal money in rural schools, hospitals, libraries and parks.

Jack Balkin on WMD

Jack Balkin ponders the WMD issue (scroll down to June 5):
If the Administration did not deceive the American people about the existence of WMD in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, then the possibility that these weapons have already proliferated and spread to terrorist groups becomes much greater. And that should be troubling for any Administration that insists it is acting to make the American people safer. (Which raises an interesting question: should we be happier if it turns out that the Administration was merely dishonest because it misled the public about WMD's in Iraq or incompetent because it let the WMD's fall into the hands of terrorists?)

Many people have defended the recent war on the grounds that even if weapons of mass destruction were not found, it's worth the price because we have freed the Iraqi people from a terrible tyrant. I agree that this is a very good thing, especially as we learn more and more about how terrible Saddam's regime truly was, although I wonder whether we are now prepared to invade Burma or Zimbabwe, or any other country ruled by a terrible tyrant, in order to free those people as well.

But what is more important is the question whether we would be willing to free the Iraqi people if we knew that the price would be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their placement in the hands of terrorist organizations. No one who has supported the war on the grounds that it freed the Iraqi people has come to terms with *that* question.
(Via Sivacracy.)

More on the F-word

In the new issue of Adbusters, James MacKinnon interviews Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk on "The Early Signs of Fascism." Defining fascism as "the convergence of military and economic power on behalf of an ultranationalist ideology that views its enemies - internally and externally - as evil and subject to extermination or extreme punishment," Falk describes one of the harbingers of fascism's rise:
A disillusionment with representative democracy as a path to change. For example, if the Democratic Party in the United States doesn't elect a candidate who will challenge these policies, I think it would lead an increasing number of people to become disenchanted with normal politics and be more inclined to feel that the only way change can come about is by more extreme political tactics, which in turn would lead the government to feel justified in expanding its powers of control over the citizenry.

On a personal note, I've got two pieces in the July/August issue that are currently unavailable online, a conversation with Siva Vaidhyanathan and an update on ad-creep in the music industry. Buy onlineor pick up a newsstand copy and support a one-of-a-kind publication. (And me.)

Terrorists for Jesus

Is accused bomber Eric Rudolph a Christian terrorist? If the answer's "no," why not?

New UNICEF study on children's health in Iraq

According to a UNICEF study released yesterday,
The number of children in Iraq suffering from diarrhoea and related diseases appears to have risen dramatically in the past year... The incidence of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid was 2.5 times higher this May than for the same month last year, said Unicef spokesman Geoffrey Keele, quoting from a limited survey.


Gay Shame: Justice department bans Pride event

Another first for the Bush Administration! For the first time in history the Department of Justice has barred its employees from holding its annual gay-pride event, DOJ Pride. A tradition since the mid-1990s that draws hundreds of DOJ employees, the event was canned because, unlike President Clinton, Bush never formally declared June Gay Pride Month. Remind me again: why would anyone who's gay also be Republican?

Sen. Byrd on WMD

Sen. Robert Byrd seems to be the only one in Congress with much to say about Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction. I recommend you read the whole speech, but here are a few excerpts:
What amazes me is that the President himself is not clamoring for an investigation.  It is his integrity that is on the line.  It is his truthfulness that is being questioned.  It is his leadership that has come under scrutiny. And yet he has raised no question, expressed no curiosity about the strange turn of events in Iraq, expressed no anger at the possibility that he might have been misled.  How is it that the President, who was so adamant about the dangers of WMD, has expressed no concern over the where-abouts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Indeed, instead of leading the charge to uncover the discrepancy between what we were told before the war and what we have found – or failed to find – since the war, the White House is circling the wagons and scoffing at the notion that anyone in the Administration exaggerated the threat from Iraq... 

* * *

...Such weapons may eventually turn up. But my greater fear is that the belligerent stance of the United States may have convinced Saddam Hussein to sell or disperse his weapons to dark forces outside of Iraq.  Shouldn't this Administration be equally alarmed if they really believed that Saddam had such dangerous capabilities?

Saddam Hussein is missing.  Osama bin Laden is missing.  Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are missing.  And the President's mild claims that we are "on the look" do not comfort me.  There ought to be an army of UN inspectors combing the countryside in Iraq or searching for evidence of disbursement of these weapons right now.  Why are we waiting?  Is there fear of the unknown?  Or fear of the truth?


More on WMDs

Did the vice president lean on the CIA to dress up their evidence of WMDs? Could be, says the Independent. Apparently, Cheney and his chief of staff paid several visits to the CIA in the months leading up to the war, which some analysts see as him putting on the heat. As some in Congress are pushing for an investigation, Ray McGovern, a member of Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (IPS), said that intelligence used to sell the war "was manipulated, forged or manufactured."

As to whether Bush and Co. lied to justify war, TomPaine.com says, "Judge for yourself."



McDonald's has sued one of Italy's top food critics for raking its restaurants over the coals, but the critic says he has no intention of going back on saying its burgers taste of rubber and its fries of cardboard.

It really is the oil, stupid.

6/4 Update: Via Cursor, apparently The Guardian botched the translation of Wolfowitz' statement. According to CalPundit, the correct English translation should've read: "Look, the primarily (sic) difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage..."

Last month, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair that "for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on: weapons of mass destruction." Now he's exposing the real reason for war with Iraq--the one we suspected all along. Why attack Iraq and not North Korea? "Let's look at it simply," he said at a Singapore security conference this weekend. "The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Clock watchers

You've heard of the US National Debt Clock--now well over $6.5 trillion (a record high!). Now there's the Cost of War clock. As of this second, we've spent $59,151,217,003 in Iraq.


We used to impeach liars

"We used to impeach liars," writes William Rivers Pitt. Not in 2003, and certainly not with a Republican Congress. Pitt runs a lengthy list of proclamations by Bush and his advisors on Iraq's alleged weapons programs, from Dick Cheney's August 26, 2002, declaration that "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction" to Bush's own State of the Union address in late January, during which he got pretty detailed:
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
Five. Hundred. Tons!? Whether a vial of sarin is uncovered or a nuclear warhead is dug up or a mobile lab possibly used for the production of biological agents is found, it's clear: this guy's been lying to us. Through his teeth. And the scale is collossal.

Pardon my French, friends, but a stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress--a thousand stains--is nowhere near the scale of this deception. Do the math: between 5,430 and 7,046 civilians, maybe more, were killed in a war over "weapons of mass destruction" of which the administration had "no doubt." Add the Iraqi soldiers and paramilitaries that were killed, as many as 45,000 lives, according to The Guardian. How much will it cost in dollars? No one seems to be keeping track, but a study in February estimated the cost of war and reconstruction of Iraq at a trillion dollars. And don't forget the incalculable costs: the effects of depleted uranium on our troops and their children, the lasting environmental effects in Iraq, the skyrocketing costs of occupying a country less and less fond of our presence there, the mushrooming costs of defending the nation againsts terrorists who've grown more pissed off--not less--from our little war.

As the bumpersticker says: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. But what to do? Join the thousands who are calling for a vote on Bush's impeachment. Or, more realistically, pressure your Congressional representative. Urge them to reconvene the Office of the Independent Counsel and call on the administration to appoint a special prosecutor. Then get all your friends to do the same. It's about time Bush gets the Ken Starr treatment.

We Interrupt Your Normal Show to Bring You an Important Message from Michael Powell and the FCC:

"Go to Hell, Americans!"

Krugman: Lie Another Day

Bush is a liar, says inimitable Times columnist Paul Krugman. About Iraq's WMDs, about tax breaks. An excerpt:
Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq war gain credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.

Am I exaggerating? Even as George Bush stunned reporters by declaring that we have "found the weapons of mass destruction," the Republican National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits "everyone who pays taxes." That is simply a lie. You've heard about those eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo. In total, 50 million American households — including a majority of those with members over 65 — get nothing; another 20 million receive less than $100 each. And a great majority of those left behind do pay taxes.
(Thanks, John.)


Kids in Iraq

According to UNICEF's recent rapid assessment survey of conditions in Iraq, children in the country are doing worse now than before the war:
The results showed that acute malnutrition among children had almost doubled since before the war, jumping from 4 per cent to 7.7 per cent. Children who are acutely malnourished are literally wasting away, and for severe cases their condition can be fatal. Acute malnutrition sets in very fast and is a strong indicator of the overall health of children.

Dishonesty Matters: A Benedictine nun on the false path to war

Writer Gordon Livingston wrote today that "each of society's institutions is a crystallization of the dominant values of the culture. If so, we appear to be living in the time of the lie." In the National Catholic Reporter, Joan Chittister raises the same issue this way: "Is there anything left that matters?"
The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. Either we made a huge — and unforgivable — mistake, an arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the world watches in horror or in ridicule.

If Bill Clinton's definition of "is" matters, surely this matters. If a president's sex life matters, surely a president's use of global force against some of the weakest people in the world matters. If a president's word in a court of law about a private indiscretion matters, surely a president's word to the community of nations and the security of millions of people matters.

And if not, why not? If not, surely there is something as wrong with us as citizens, as thinkers, as Christians as there must be with some facet of the government. If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday — as over 70% of U.S. citizens did before the attack on Iraq — suddenly become "right" the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?

Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of "liberation" and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?
Read it all. (Via Cursor)

Central Casting: The Times covers Sinclair

Today, as the FCC votes to relax media ownership rules, The New York Times writes about "central casting," the format Sinclair Broadcast Group uses to simulate local news. From their offices in Maryland, the company uses a stable of on-air talents--from the weatherman who pretends to be in Flint to a corporate VP who offers right-wing commentaries to close off a newscast--to provide content to 62 local news stations (you might have read about it here or here).
To the company, it is an efficient way to cut the costs of local journalism, bringing news to small stations that otherwise would go without.

But to opponents of a proposal before the Federal Communications Commission to loosen media ownership rules, the set in Maryland is a frightening sign of things to come.

Today the commission is expected to enact new rules that will allow media companies to increase the percentage of the national television audience they can reach from 35 to possibly 45. It is also expected to make it easier for companies to own two or even three stations in a single market--or a newspaper and television station in a single market.

Traitors and Sympathizers

"If you do not support our President's decisions, you are a traitor," proclaims the website ProBush.com. Its "Traitor List" includes the usual cast--Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon--but also a few surprises: Dr. Patch Adams, artist Laurie Anderson, guitarist Bill Frisell, dancer Bill T. Jones, Jimmy Carter, and James Abourezk. Who? Abourezk is a senator from South Dakota, and he's not pleased about being included on the list. According to The Progressive, he's suing the website and its editor/publisher, Michael Marino, for defamation. He's seeking $2 million in actual damages, $3 million in punitive damages, plus attorney's fees and the removal of any reference to Abourezk on the website. "They've impugned my integrity and my patriotism," says Abourezk.

Tom Tomorrow makes an excellent point about the logic of the likes of Marino--or, rather, his cousins who defame anti-war activists like Sarandon and Noam Chomsky as "terrorist sympathizers." Refering to those who feel for the plight of accused Olympic Park pipe bomber Eric Rudolph, he writes, " I wonder how soon the vociferious denunciations of these actual terrorist sympathizers will begin":
Betty Howard made many people happy today, and it was not for her daily special. Around noon, Mrs. Howard walked outside, glanced up at the sign in front of her diner and decided to change the lettering on the marquee from "Roast Turkey Baked Ham" to "Pray for Eric Rudolph."

"Bless his heart," Mrs. Howard said. "Eric needs our help."

* * *

"I didn't see him bomb nobody," said Hoke Henson, 77. "You can't always trust the feds."
Concluded Tomorrow: "Except when it comes to WMDs in Iraq, and then you can trust the federal government implicitly because they'd never lie. Speaking of which, it appears that--at least, according to the hard right NewsMax site--Paul Wolfowitz is now floating the idea that Saddam was not only the mastermind behind 9/11, but was also responsible for Oklahoma City and the 1993 WTC bombing. Wonder if the folks in Peachtree are gonna trust the feds on that one."

Selected Fictions

The Jessica Lynch Story: Despite eyewitness accounts stating its falsehood, NBC will air the US government's version of the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch. Calling the Pentagon's story "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived," the BBC reported that, contrary to Pentagon assertions, there were no Iraqi soldiers present, no shots were fired, Lynch sustained no gunshot or stab wounds, and that Iraqi doctors had arranged two days earlier for Lynch to be picked up by an American ambulance. While Lynch can't recall any details of the "rescue," her father commented, "We're really not supposed to talk about that subject."

Vanishing WMDs:There's still no trace of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, 73 days into the search, and it's beginning to get a bit embarassing for George Bush and Tony Blair. With accusations piling up that Blair "sexed up" intelligence briefings to justify war, he announced that he stands "absolutely 100%" behind the evidence of WMDs the US and UK presented prior to the war. US News writes that Colin Powell wasn't so glowing in his assessment; he was reportedly so frustrated with poor evidence he was given to convince the UN of Iraq's WMDs that he declared: "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit." Malcolm Savidge, one of 73 MPs calling for the publication of the government's evidence on WMD, said: "I cannot conceive, in fact, of a more serious accusation than that parliament and the people could have been misled into being brought into a war on false pretences - that to me is more serious than Watergate."

Liberate Iraq! For some time now I've wanted to, under cover of darkness, alter those "Liberate Iraq!" signs to include the subhead "End the occupation!" While the pro-war folks might feel we liberated the country, the opposite is apparently true. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers are threatening suicide attacks against US troops if they don't leave soon. With US soldiers still taking fire, and some dying, it's not hard to imagine a return to all-out war. When US soldiers are no longer dying in Iraq (or killing Iraqis), then I'll take down my "No War with Iraq" sign and stop seeing the bitter irony in the signs that are now inadvertently calling for the end to American occupation.