Thursday, May 31, 2007


The Bush foreign policy is a disaster. Take the most recent misstep. Placing missiles and missile radar in Eastern Europe bordering Russia. Understandably Russian President Vladimir Putin is upset. From an AP story today on Yahoo news by Vladimir Isachenkov:

"President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia's test-firing of new missiles this week was a response to U.S. plans to build missile defense sites across Europe, and suggested Washington is pursuing an imperialist policy that has triggered a new arms race.

"In a clear reference to the United States, Putin harshly criticized "diktat and imperialism" in global affairs and warned that Russia will keep strengthening its military potential to maintain a global strategic balance."

With one decision, Bush takes the United States back to the Cold War and the Arms Race of the 50s and 60s. The United States naively says that Russia has nothing to worry about because the missiles are not pointed at Russia. How would Americans react if Russia placed missiles in Canada and Mexico? We already know the answer to that. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Americans were furious, Kennedy's inner circle debated nuking Havana and Moscow, the world almost suffered its first nuclear war.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice insists that the U.S. does not understand why Russia is so upset with the U.S. missile plan. The New York Times in a story from the AP reports:

"Russian attitudes are locked in the past, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday, adding that the United States is perplexed by the current fracas with Russia over a planned U.S. missile system in Europe."

Here again, Rice demonstrates she is not up to the job. It is hard to believe she is so sheltered that she is "perplexed" by the Russian reaction.


Nina Bernstein writes in yesterday's New York Times that the new immigration bill if passed and signed into law could drastically change the composition of immigrants living in New York City.

"The proposed law certainly would not end the flow of legal immigration to New York. But it could profoundly alter the currents that have long fed the city’s mom and pop entrepreneurship, its kaleidoscopic diversity, and family networks that nurture and help assimilate newcomers. "

"More of the city’s newcomers, compared with immigrants in other parts of the country, continue to gain entry through the very family visas that the pending bill would restrict or abolish — and that would be replaced with a point system based on skills and education.

"New York was front and center when Congress refashioned America’s immigration system in 1965, replacing quotas based on race and national origin with a system centered on reunifying families. This time, with heated debate focused on illegal immigrants who cross the Mexican border and settle mainly in the West and South, New York’s experience has received less attention."

In other words, the diversity of races, cultures and nationalities now found in New York came about because the immigration system allowed family members of those who gained legal permanent residency to immigrate, obtain a "green card," and achieve that same status for themselves. New York City thus has a high ratio of legal to illegal immigrants, as the NY Times story reports.

But under the new proposed bill, family ties would mean little in deciding who can immigrate to the U.S. Instead, the new bill puts emphasis on a candidate's education and job proficiency and skills.

"“I love what I have now, and everything I have now, I work on it,” said Steven Lai, 46, whose immigration at 23 depended not only on his mother’s sponsorship, but on a long line of male forebears who endured 20-year family separations and exclusion from citizenship as they labored in the United States, first building railroads in 19th-century California. “Family is more important than everything else,” said Mr. Lai whose mother, Oilhang, 66, helps in the store.

"Under the proposed point system, Mr. Lai would have been locked out. The measure aims to reduce chain migration — the practice of one immigrant sponsoring others — and to make room for those the federal government selects as the world’s best, brightest and most easily assimilated. It would end preferences for the adult children and siblings of United States citizens, and eliminate a citizen’s right to sponsor parents. Instead, the government would admit foreigners who scored highest on a scale that values advanced degrees, skills approved by the Department of Labor, and fluency in English, much more than family ties. Only those admitted on points could sponsor their spouse and minor children."

In effect, under the current system, we have "open borders," at least to most close relatives of those already here with a green card. The resultant ethnic mix is what makes New York City so interesting and vibrant. There are various clusters and neighborhoods of Pakistanis, Italians, Irish, Russians and Poles. There are Ghanaians, Kenyans, Koreans and Chinese. In New York City, there is no rule, written or unwritten, that says, speak English. Many immigrants never want to speak a language other than their native language. But look at the second generation. The children all talk English with a New York accent.

And consider the economic effect of such open immigration. New York City is booming because of its immigrants.

"Yet immigrants like Mr. Lai, who learned English and locksmith skills at night school and opened his business 18 years ago with family savings, have been a vital economic engine for the city, said Gary Gerstle, a historian of immigration who teaches at Vanderbilt University. The city’s record, he and others say, casts doubt on the dichotomy being drawn in the debate between family ties and other factors that might lead to economic success.

"“The way that New York has come back is one of the great American success stories of the last 40 years, and immigrants are absolutely central to it,” Professor Gerstle said. “Mom and pop stores in New York have been a very dynamic force in the making of American society, and I would not want to see that possibility foreclosed.”"

This is what I would like to see for all American cities. Not the monochromatic dullness of everyone being from Northern Europe and everyone speaking English. But the vibrancy and diversity of language and culture and color as in NYC.

This is why I am for open borders. Mr. Bush, tear down that fence. Let America be open to every immigrant, no matter how poor, no matter what race, no matter what language. Therefore we need to defeat this new harsh immigration bill that would put up more barriers to open immigration by limiting family sponsorship of new immigrants.


Reuters is reporting the death of three more U.S. soldiers in Iraq bringing the total through May 30th up to 122 deaths, the third most disastrous month since the Bush invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"In the latest deaths, two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb on Wednesday in southwestern Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Two more were wounded.

"Another soldier wounded by a roadside bomb in Baghdad's northwest on Monday died of his wounds on Tuesday."

See fotos of all of the U.S. soldiers killed in the month of May 2007.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Today in The New York Times, (sorry for the absence of HTML links, I am still in NYC on a "foreign computer") Helene Cooper reports that Condoleeza Rice has rejected the observation that Iran has taken three American-Iranians into detention, including the 67-year old scholar Haleh Esfandiari, as tit-for-tat for the Americans taking five Iranian "diplomats" into custody in Iraq this past January.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday rejected linking Iran’s charges against three Iranian-Americans in Tehran to the Bush administration’s capture of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Iraq."

"Ms. Rice said that the five Iranian Revolutionary Guard members arrested by United States forces in Iraq on Jan. 11 were working to destabilize Iraq and were “endangering” American troops there. “The two are simply not linked,” she said.

"Iran maintains that the men are diplomats and should not have been detained."

I have written more than once about the possible motivation of Iran in seizing the three Americans all of whom were on visits to Iran when they were seized. Recall that within the last month, V.P. Cheney prevailed upon the inner Bush circle to keep the five Iranians detained for at least another six months, notwithstanding that there was no credible evidence against them that has been revealed. Their only crime was to have been found in Iraq. Iran claims they are "diplomats." Perhaps this is true.

What is galling to the Iranians is that the United States has arrested these five and there have been no charges or evidence presented. This is like the Iranian seizure of the U.S. embassy personnel in Tehran some 30 years ago. Recall how incensed Americans were as a result. We can only imagine how irate the man in the street in Tehran is now about the American detention of the five Iranians. This is just not an issue of a rogue Iran regime doing bad things to Americans, as Tom Friedman seems to suggest in his op-ed column today in The New York Times. This issue generates ill will towards the U.S. by the Iranian people.

I want Iran to release Ms. Esfandiari immediatedly together with the two other Iranian Americans. But I also want the United States to release the five Iranians. For Condoleeza Rice to say there is no parity is just propaganda for those who are not watching what is actually happening.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I want to call your attention to the insightful and enlightening post today by Juan Cole. (I am in NYC this week and on a "foreign" computer, and am trouble showing HTML links.) Here's the link you can paste in to your browser: (

Juan Cole explains why the United States and Iran should have much in common, and why the meeting yesterday in Baghdad between the American and Iranian ambassadors should have occurred long ago.

"Do the United States and Iran have things to talk about? Yes. They have several common interests, which could be stressed and developed fruitfully.

"1. Shiite Iran is a deadly enemy of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which the US is also fighting. Instead of making up silly charges against Iran, the US could explore avenues of cooperation against these enemies.

"2. Shiite Iran is a deadly enemy of the Iraqi Baath Party and of the radical Salafi Jihadis who are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq and for most of the killings of US troops. There are ways in which the US and Iran could cooperate in defeating these forces, which are inimical to both Washington and Tehran.

"3. Shiite Iran is happy with the Shiite led government of Iraq and wants to see Iraq's territorial integrity maintained. Supporting the al-Maliki government and keeping Iraq together are also goals of the United States."


The Washington Post reports today ( the military reported another eight deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. That brings the total to 110 for the month of May.

Over the Memorial Day week-end, I heard George Bush say that Americans never fight wars unless they are attacked first. Here we have the "commander in chief" trying to conceal his role in starting an unprovoked war in Iraq. He summons up the great American myth that the United States is fighting for freedom and liberty, whereas the countries on the receiving end of the U.S. bombing and shelling are the ones who hate liberty and democracy. Americans should not put up with this myth-making AND bull from George Bush.


I heard NPR's Morning Edition today with a report on a small town in rural Georgia and its chicken processing plant. The hook was how a company copes after its mainly Latino work force departs en masse following a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Must NPR and its reporters refer to undocumented Latinos as "illegals?" That's a word for lawyers, judges and courts. How does NPR know the Latinos were "illegals?" Perhaps a court will declare them to be in full compliance with the law. Perhaps they had done nothing "illegal." Why must we be subject to this put-down of Latino workers. Why must NPR disrespect them by calling them "illegals," or worse, "illegal aliens," as if they just arrived from some far-away planet.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Steve Clemons post on Dick Cheney in The Washington Note ( is must reading. Steve reports that Cheney is angling for a war against Iran and is unhappy that George Bush is listening instead to Condoleeza Rice and Robert Gates for diplomacy rather than missiles.

A war against Iran would be catastrophic. The United States would suffer disastrous consequences for the next 500 years. If Iraq has not in fact already started a new Crusade, a war against Iran certainly would initiate centuries of religious hatred between East and West.


Juan Cole reports on his blog today:

"The US military raided Sadr City on Saturday and arrested a Mahdi Army commander whom they accused of being involved with smuggling weapons from Iran. The arrest provoked clashes, and the army called in air strikes on JAM positions, killing 5 persons. Bombing a city you militarily occupy is probably illegal in international law."

The United States should put its war planes away. There is absolutely no reason to bomb or shell civilian areas, no matter that insurgents may be hiding or taking refuge within.

Furthermore, that the Mahdi Army imports weapons from Iran should not be surprising, because the U.S. has been supplying weapons to the Lebanese Army which fires them into homes in the Palestinian refugee camp outside of Tripoli. The whole weapons and munitions industry thrives on just this sort of dark commerce in blood. My solution: ban the manufacture world-wide of any type of ordnance, and force nations to rely not on cluster bombs or war planes but on diplomacy and mutual respect.


The cycle of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis will never stop as long as one or both sides believes the way to retaliate is with bombs or rockets or war planes. Israel, stop the shelling of Palestinians and their elected representatives of Hamas. Hamas, stop the firing of rockets into Israel. Israel, tear down that hated wall. Palestinians, end the sending of suicide bombers into Israeli towns. Israel, give back the land seized in the past wars and stop the building of settlements on Palestinian land.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I believe everyone should have the right to go anywhere he wants to find a job and build a decent life. I don't believe in borders. No country should have the right to physically prevent a person from entering and leaving freely.

But I am totally against the new immigration bill. For one thing, it proposes building more walls between the U.S. and Mexico. The United States is going to join Israel and East Germany in constructing a wall to keep people out and in some cases in. This would be a wall, hated by those on the other side, and its symbolism of U.S. exceptionalism cannot be missed by the millions of people in South and Latin America who would interpret it as American disdain of those who speak another language or who have darker skin.

Secondly, the immigration bill requires that people in the U.S. without documents jump through nigh impossible hoops to obtain permanent residency and a "green card." They must pay fines, the head of household must return to his/her country of origin to make the initial application, and they must wait too long a time for the process to come to fruition.

Thirdly, the bill allows for temporary guest workers, but after every period of two years, the worker must return to his country and wait one full year before returning and securing another temporary work permit. Furthermore six years of working in the U.S. is the maximum. This plan is unworkable. If a person works for six years in the U.S., it would be cruel to say that he/she could never return. The result would be to raise up an inferior class of workers who have little rights and little hope of acquiring property or possessions in the United States.

For all of these reasons, I hope congress defeats this defective attempt at immigration reform.


Why must Bush & Co. send dozens of navy carriers and war ships to the Persian Gulf within striking distance of Iran?

Is this the extent of Bush's foreign policy - solve all problems with guns, bombs, war planes? Naked militarism?

A better idea - sit down and negotiate with Mr. Ahmadinejad, President of Iran. Let the U.S. talk with Iranian leaders. This is far better than bombing Iran and Iranians.

But as a condition of negotiating, there must be no threats, no ultimatums, no warnings. How would the United States like it if some other country, perhaps more powerful in military weaponry, would dictate terms of negotiation? If Americans put themselves in the place of Iranians, it would be clear that such threats would be instantly rejected as demeaning and insulting. Therefore, it is understandable when Iran rejects threats enunciated by the United States.


The BBC reported today that the United States was sending plane-loads full of armaments for the Lebanese government to continue its attack against Fatal al Islam at the Palestinian refugee camp outside of Tripoli.

What I object to is indiscriminate shelling and shooting at buildings within the camp. This amounts to a war crime and is clearly against the Laws of War. There is no justification for shelling buildings that house innocent civilians. Furthermore, while it has been reported that some 10,000 Palestinians have fled the camp, that implies that there are still 30,000 still within.

Who in his right mind would give orders to shell the camp, notwithstanding that the Lebanese army is pursuing members of Fatah al Islam? Perhaps George Bush. But the president of Lebanon, Siniora?

Similarly why should the United States supply arms, weapons, bombs for such an illegal and immoral undertaking?

The bottom line is that the Bush foreign policy is immoral and unjustified. I guess we will all suffer with this pro-war ant anti-Islam bias till George Bush goes back to Texas in January 2009.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


This piece by Gary Kamiya in Salon is exceptional and right on the mark. Talking about why the Democrats think that it is bad politics to start impeachment proceedings against George Bush, Kamiya observes:

"But there's a deeper reason why the popular impeachment movement has never taken off -- and it has to do not with Bush but with the American people. Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche. The emotional force behind America's support for the Iraq war, the molten core of an angry, resentful patriotism, is still too hot for Congress, the media and even many Americans who oppose the war, to confront directly. It's a national myth. It's John Wayne. To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness -- come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that."

An angry resentful patriotism and a violent self-righteousness - these are powerful words and even more powerful ideas. And they ring true.

The concept of American exceptionalism pervades the American culture. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, as if it applied only to the United States. We must support the president in times of war. Our soldiers are the most noble and the bravest in the world. We are fighting and dying for freedom and liberty.

George Bush should be certainly impeached for this dishonorable and unjustified war. But we all know Gary Kamiya is correct. Bush won't be impeached because that would in effect be the same as bringing charges of impeachment against the entire country, or at least against millions of Americans who believe the bogus claims of American exceptionalism with burning righteousness.


Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report for ABC News that George Bush has established a secret "black" operation to destabilize the government of Iran:

"The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABC"

Why must the United States be engaged in a covert operation against Iran? This is the type of government that repels support and creates hatred among other peoples for Americans. George Bush and Dick Cheney should respect the sovereignty of Iran and quit meddling with secret "black" operations in the internal affairs of Iran.

The ABC story goes on to report on the great risks of such a program:

"Still, some fear that even a nonlethal covert CIA program carries great risks. "I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations."

"And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow," Nasr said."

I believe this action contravenes the Charter of the United Nations that the United States government signed and agreed to. Article Two provides:

"The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

  • The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
  • All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
  • All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
  • All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. "

A secret "black" operation by the United States led by Bush and Cheney to destabilize the government of Iran. This surely is not the utilization of a "peaceful means." The United States by this operation is clearly endangering international peace and security and justice. The United States is violating the Charter of the United Nations in one of its most basic principles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Right after I wrote my post on May 21, 2007, on the failure of the Bush foreign policy around the world, I heard on the news that Bush unconditionally gave his approval to the assault by the Lebanese Army on the Palestinian refugee camp outside of Tripoli.

Bush's approbation justifies my view that Bush has no foreign policy other than the use of military force against those whom he perceives to be "enemies" or "forces of evil." Bush views all Islamists the same, makes no distinction between Hezbollah or Al Qaeda, and considers them all to be "terrorists." Therefore, for Bush, "everything is on the table," meaning air strikes, cluster bombs, civilian shelling. Bush has said the Fatah Al Islam group within the refugee camp must be "confronted," so he puts his blessing on shelling the camp. No concern for civilians, no concern for destroying houses, no concern for loss of life.


We know that many neo-cons and their supporters would like nothing better than a war against Iran, that evil Islamist empire. Here is Juan Cole today demolishing sophomoric arguments in an article in The Guardian by Simon Tisdall on why Iran is the bogey man.

"At a time when Sunni Arab guerrillas are said to be opposing "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia" for its indiscriminate violence against Iraqis, including Shiites, we are now expected to believe that Shiite Iran is allying with it. And, it claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are shelling the Green Zone. The parliament building that was hit to day by such shelling is dominated by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its paramilitary, the Badr Organization. Who trained Badr? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And they are trying to hit their own guys . . . why?

"By the way, the US has 16,000 suspected insurgents in custody. Tisdall should ask how many of them are Iranian. (Hint: close to none. What, do they just run faster than the others?)

"The article even traffics in the ridiculous assertion that Iran is backing hyper-Sunni, Shiite-killing Taliban in Afghanistan. Why not just cut to the quick and openly say that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei is in reality . . . Satan!

"It really is discouraging that Tisdall didn't report instead on what crazy things the US military spokesmen in Iraq told him. US military spokesmen have been trying to push implausible articles about Shiite Iran supporting Sunni insurgents for a couple of years now, and with virtually the sole exception of the New York Times, no one in the journalistic community has taken these wild charges seriously. But The Guardian?"


BBC News on the radio reported this morning that Iran is expelling thousands of "undocumented" Afghanis who live and work in Iranian towns along Iran's eastern border with Afghansitan. Here is the BBC link.

How similar to what many U.S. politicians and their mean followers would like to do with Mexicans and other undocumenteds! The same inflexible feelings of antipathy towards the foreigner, the same xenophobia, the same lack of respect for a different language and culture, exists in Iran as it does in the United States.

The United States has always been the refuge for immigrants, a place of opportunity where if you worked hard you could make it. The same people here in the U.S. who won't give undocumented Latinos and others a chance to find work and feed their families are the very same children of immigrants who came here but a generation or two ago.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The current bloody conflict outside Tripoli where the Lebanese Army is shelling a Palestinian refugee camp with over 40,000 inhabitants is just one more instance of the bankrupt and catastrophic foreign policy of George W. Bush. By siding with Israel in the last Israel Lebanon War and allowing Israel to bomb apartment buildings, homes and even the Beirut International Airport, the Bush regime showed once again that the United States government fails to take seriously the complaints of the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, the U.S. under Bush makes the simplistic mistake of bunching Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda into one bundle, as if they were all terrorists of the same stripe with the same aims and goals. Talk about amateur foreign policy!

Wherever one looks at the work of the United States - Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia - we see the same religious and social and economic upheaval. We see bloody conflicts, civil wars, killing of civilians, destruction of infrastructure, hatred of Americans. And all of this is due to George W. Bush and his off-the-cuff foreign policy.


Hassan M. Fattah and Graham Bowley write on The New York Times web page today that residents of the Palestinian refugee camp outside of Tripoli report dozens of civilian casualties as a result of the shelling by the Lebanese Army.

"Lebanese troops shelled locations within the Nahr al Bared camp on the northern outskirts of this city, which houses about 40,000 Palestinian refugees. Militants belonging to the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam shot back with heavy machine-gun fire.

"Thick smoke rose above the city, and the taller buildings in the camp were visibly pockmarked by bullet holes."

This is madness. As I wrote earlier today, it is like the Allied Forces bombing German cities during WWII. It is indiscriminate shelling, and there are sure to be many more casualties. Nothing will be accomplished by Lebanon by these barbaric tacts which certainly violate the laws of war and the Geneva Convention.

The BBC web page has recent photos.

The New York Times story adds this comment:

"Residents of Tripoli expressed support for the army’s efforts. “This should have happened from the start,” said one man, who stood in a crowd of onlookers as the tanks fired into the camp. The crowd shouted, “God is great, and God protect the army,” with each shell fired.
“We wish the government would destroy the whole camp and the rest of the camps,” said another in the crowd, Ahmad al-Marooq. “Nothing good comes out of the Palestinians.”

"But military experts said a direct assault on the camps would be a grave mistake. “We cannot afford to have that here,” said Elias Hanna, a retired army general, who warned against such a move. “This is not a question of the army’s capabilities or its professionalism. You simply can’t send the army into the camps to arrest 200 people without paying a heavy price in civilian casualties.”"


Why is it necessary for the Lebanese Army to shell a Palestinian refugee camp? This is akin to the carpet bombings of German cities during WWII by the British and American war planes, or to the Israel carpet bombing of southern Lebanon by the Israelis with cluster bombs in the conflict with Hezbollah last year.

It is nothing more than state-initiated terrorism. It is bombing and shelling civilians only as a terroristic tool to force the Palestinians in the camp into submission.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


David Broder's column in today's Washington Post confirms more than ever that he is past his prime and should be look for something else to do. Talking about the joint news conference of George Bush and Tony Blair last Thursday, Broder writes:

"History will record that both of them saw the threat to the West posed by terrorism and responded courageously. The wisdom of their policy and the conduct of their governments are not likely to be judged as highly."

Bush and Blair responded courageously? This is more than any reader should suffer. Both Blair and Bush are dangerous statesmen. They used the military power of their governments to illegally invade Iraq. Because of these two, more than 650,000 Iraqis have perished. More than 3,000 U.S. soldiers have died, as well as several hundred plus British troops. The state of Iraq is failed. There is a civil war raging with bombs and guns. And Broder says Bush and Blair are courageous. What a piece of %$#*@!


The New York Times has an editorial today on the recent immigration deal arrived at in the Senate that has Bush's approval.

I fully agree with the NYT's position:

"It is the nation’s duty to welcome immigrants, to treat them decently and give them the opportunity to assimilate. But if it does so according to the outlines of the deal being debated this week, the change will come at too high a price: The radical repudiation of generations of immigration policy, the weakening of families and the creation of a system of modern peonage within our borders."

However, I must be even more pessimistic about the current agreement. I think it is unworkable because it contains a requirement that heads of households engage in a "touchback," i.e., returning to their countries of origin and making official application there for permanent residency. The New York Times calls this provision "foolish." I believe hardly any head of household will do this, because 1) it will separate them from their families for at least a year, maybe two or three, in the process of waiting for their applications to be processed; and 2) people will be afraid that once they leave the U.S., the law will change and they will never be allowed back.

The New York Times talks about the "awful" rules on temporary workers:

"The agreement fails most dismally in its temporary worker program. “Temporary means temporary” has been a Republican mantra, motivated by the thinly disguised impulse to limit the number of workers, Latinos mostly, doing the jobs Americans find most distasteful. The deal calls for the creation of a new underclass that could work for two years at a time, six at the most, but never put down roots. Immigrants who come here under that system — who play by its rules, work hard and gain promotions, respect and job skills — should be allowed to stay if they wish. But this deal closes the door. It offers a way in but no way up, a shameful repudiation of American tradition that will encourage exploitation — and more illegal immigration."

This agreement will spawn a permanent class of subsistence laborers who will work only in dead-end jobs and have no economic security or hope to better their lives. To say that a worker may work for only two years and then either go back or apply for another period of two years, with a maximum of six, is wrong and will create huge social upheaval for the laborers. What does a worker do after his term of six years in the United States has been used up? I doubt that such workers will want to go back permanently to their home countries. They will stay in the U.S. one way or other.

This is a bad immigration package. The Congress should reject it or change it. Bush is so eager for anything which will cause his "legacy" to look good that he will sign any immigration bill. But apart from preventing Bush any credit, the terms are on balance anti-immigrant. Congress should let this one go, and wait till the country has a Democratic president in the White House who will take a more principled stand than Bush in protecting immigrant rights.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


The AP reports that former president Jimmy Carter said in a story that appeared Saturday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the presidency and administration of George W. Bush has been the worst in the history of the United States.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions.

"The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.""

The response of the Republican National Committee was inane and meaninglessly ad hominem. When you don't like the message, attack and slime the messenger.

""Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War.""

A question for the RNC spokesperson: why does she think that Mr. Carter's statement is a "reckless accusation?" How is it reckless? And how is it an "accusation?" The answer is it is neither reckless (meaning having a duty of care but still taking known risks) nor is it an accusation, as is self-evident. So much for the Republican non-response.


Abby Goodnough writes in today's The New York Times that the government's star prosecution witness, Yahya Goba, was one of the Lackawanna Six to plead guilty to attending a "terrorist training camp."

What this has to do with Jose Padilla is another matter. Mr. Goba did not know Mr. Padilla, was not at the camp with Mr. Padilla, and has no first-hand knowledge idea what happened to Mr. Padilla or what Mr. Padilla did when Padilla was in Pakistan.

“If we are not allowed to put this evidence in,” a government prosecutor, Brian Frazier, told Judge Cooke on Friday before the jury was brought in, “our knees are cut out from under us.”

"As the defense forcefully pointed out and as Judge Cooke agreed, Mr. Goba has no material connection to Mr. Padilla or his co-defendants, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, who are charged with recruiting Mr. Padilla for terrorist training.

“What Goba did is not relevant to anything in this case, period,” William Swor, a lawyer for Mr. Jayyousi, argued before the jury came in.

"Judge Cooke allowed Mr. Goba to describe just his experience at the camp and the form he filled out. To the government’s frustration, she instructed the jury not to draw any inference from Mr. Goba’s testimony that Mr. Padilla attended the camp."

So Mr. Goba is not testifying that he saw Jose Padilla at the camp. Goba has no first-hand knowledge that Padilla was, before or after his time, at the same camp. Goba does not know if or why Padilla travelled to Pakistan.

So where is the evidence of the prosecution that Mr. Padilla did anything wrong? Or that he did anything against the law of the United States or that attended a "terrorist training camp?"

The reporter in The New York Times adds:

"Mr. Goba has also testified for the government at trials of terrorism suspects in Australia, Idaho and New York.

"Under cross-examination, he testified that he expected to enter the witness protection program after his 10-year prison term. He conceded that “muhajid” means “brother who fights for Islam,” and does not necessarily connote physical fighting.

"He also said his training at the camp was not “terrorist training,” but, as Michael Caruso, a lawyer for Mr. Padilla, said, “strictly military training, similar to a boot camp.”"


Once again, we see the old Bush line from Tony Blair that Iran is creating problems in Iraq. Al Jazeera has a story today on Blair's comments while visiting Baghdad.

"Blair said: "The future of Iraq should be determined by Iraqis in accordance with their wishes and it is important that all the neighbouring countries understand and respect that.

""We know it is important to work with Iran but Iran has to understand it cannot support terrorism and want to work with us at the same time.""

So Iran is guilty of supporting terrorism? If so, it is guilt by innuendo. There has been no proof, absolutely no evidence, that Iran is supporting terrorism in Iraq. And Tony Blair has given no proof for implying that Iran is supporting terrorism.

Consider this - Iran is composed of a majority of Shia. Most of the terroristic acts and suicide bombings taking place in Iraq today are directed against U.S. forces and Iraqi Shia police, and originate from the Sunni areas. Shia and Sunnis do not like one another in Iraq.

So why would Iran be a sponsor of Sunni terrorism when it has Iraqi Shia as its fellow co-religionists? The obvious answer is that Iran does not support Sunni terrorism. Iran has as much interest as any other country including the United States in achieving a stable and peaceful Iraq. Otherwise, an out-of-control Iraqi Sunni mob spilling over into Iran might threaten and endanger Iran's Shia-dominated religious leadership.


Some reader have experienced problems posting comments. I hope I have solved the problem. Try posting again now if you wish. If there is still a problem, e-mail me and let me know.


In an interview with the BBC, former president Jimmy Carter criticizes soon-to-be former prime minister Tony Blair for his subservience to George Bush and the disastrous Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"Mr Carter told the BBC Mr Blair's backing for US President George W Bush had been "apparently subservient". He said the UK's "almost undeviating" support for "the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq had been a major tragedy for the world". "

See my post on May 18, 2007, on the embarrassing adoration apparent in the eyes of Tony Blair for George Bush. No wonder British newspapers refer to Blair as "bush's poodle."

The BBC reports:

"Mr Carter said that if Mr Blair had distanced himself from the Bush administration's policy during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq it might have made a crucial difference to American political and public opinion . . . . "So I think the combination of Bush and Blair giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made the opposition less effective and prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted." "

Friday, May 18, 2007


From the Washington Post web site, here is a video of Dana Milbank commenting on the Blair/Bush press conference yesterday. Given what I wrote of how Tony came across as utterly subservient to the macho George, take a look and see what you think.


I don't understand how The World Bank could have agreed to allow Paul Wolfowitz to remain president until June 30. If he has indeed resigned, then The World Bank should require that he clear out his desk and leave immediately. As president for another 45 days, Wolfowitz can do a lot of additional damage to The World Bank.

Peter S. Goodman in The Washington Post writes that The World Bank will issue limitations today on what Wolfowitz may or may not do in his remaining time.

"According to bank and Bush administration sources briefed on the negotiations, the White House on Wednesday demanded that Wolfowitz be allowed to stay for three months, fearing that otherwise an acting president would be put in place from within the bank. That could threaten the traditional American prerogative to select the head of the institution.
"They don't want to lose control," a bank official said.

"Most of the board, and particularly the Europeans, wanted Wolfowitz to leave immediately, asserting that he has lost the trust of the staff. The administration ultimately settled for a compromise, the June 30 departure date, fearing that otherwise a caretaker president might be inserted by the board over American wishes . . .

"A bank official briefed by board members said the board would today issue a second statement asserting that Wolfowitz is immediately barred from making personnel and policy decisions, assuaging the fears of some that he might otherwise fire those who have rallied against him. But in a nod to the interests of the Bush administration, the board will assert that Wolfowitz is to stay on officially in his post and will not go on administrative leave, as many staff members had hoped."

Goodman also writes of the jubilation of staff and employees of The World Bank when they received the news of Wolfowitz' resignation:

"Staff members described a celebratory mood inside the World Bank's headquarters near the White House, with people embracing, singing songs and hoisting flutes of Champagne."


Watching some of the Blair/Bush news conference yesterday, I was disgusted by the fawning adoration on Tony's face every time he looked at George. It was like a school boy admiring his hero. Or the scrawny kid in the glow of the school star athlete. Yes, Bush does have some fans, obsequious Tony being front and center. It was disgusting.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Marty Lederman at Balkinization writes today about the outrageous adoption and acceptance of the use of torture by most of the Republican presidential candidates at the debate last Tuesday in South Carolina:

"Don't let the fast-moving Comey affair distract you from the other outrage of the month -- the fact that at the same time high-ranking military leaders are disclaiming torture and abuse in the strongest possible terms, most of the leading presidential candidates of the Republican Party have been tripping over themselves in an effort to be the candidate who will commit to greatest number of war crimes, treaty breaches and statutory violations if he should be so fortunate as to be elected Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy."

Apart from John McCain, the other Republicans, especially Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, seemed to heartily endorse the idea, as in, "what do we do when we catch a terrorist and want to know the details of a forthcoming terrorist operation so that we can prevent another 9/11?"

I have a question for torture's proponents: would you personally confess if you were subject to water-boarding or other "enhanced interrogatory methods?" Or take a technique from the Inquisition and volunteer to be the person accused of heresy. Then suffer something fort et dur, like being compressed between two planks with the screws tightening every 10 minutes. Or being held under water for increasing longer periods, something similar to water-boarding. I am sure you can think of other "effective" methods.

Okay, let's leave Mitt and Rudy out of this. Let's test these methods on George and Dick. Would they confess to being part of Al Qaeda? Would they admit they were planning to set off a dirty bomb? Would they sign a confession no matter what it described?

The answer is yes, even George Bush, even Dick Cheney, would confess to being part of the worst terrorist organization if they were subject to interrogation using torture. They would tell and admit anything they thought their interrogators wanted. And that is the trouble with these methods. A person will say anything to stop the pain, whether physical or mental. Torture as a method does not work and will never work.


I can't believe that the Department of Justice refuses to turn over to the Senate Judiciary Committee more than one e-mail from Karl Rove regarding the firing of the nine U.S. attorneys.

Paul Kane writes today in the Washington Post:

"The Justice Department told Congress yesterday that a search of e-mails sent over 2 1/2 years turned up a single message in which the department's senior officials communicated with White House adviser Karl Rove about the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

"In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a senior Justice official said the department scoured its computers in response to a subpoena and found just the single e-mail chain written earlier this year. It already had been released publicly.

"The possibility that Rove had a role in the removal of the U.S. attorneys has become a central issue in Congress's investigation."

The DOJ can find but a single e-mail? This is preposterous and clearly a case of refusing to turn over documents requested by a Congressional committee. Destruction or concealment of documents is a serious offense when the subject of a court order or request by a panel of Congress.

The response of the DOJ is reminiscent of Nixon refusing to turn over tapes of White House conversations involving the Watergate burglary. Things can only get worse for Bush & Co. and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as this matter develops.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I watched The NewsHour tonight. I thought The NewsHour did a good job with the story on The World Bank and Paul Wolfowitz. Also I appreciated the update on the new War Czar, three-star General Lute. But I was disappointed with Betty Ann Bowser's story on the Northern Lights.

For me, Bowser's story was more on education, i.e., how schools get students interested in science by means of the Northern Lights. An okay story, but really just "filler."

Moreover, I was disappointed that The NewsHour allows Bowser to refer to youth or children as "kids." I hear the same term innumerable times on local TV news, but for The NewsHour I don't think it is appropriate.

As the Dominican nuns taught me at St. Thomas the Apostle grammar school in Queens, New York, a long time ago, a "kid" is a young goat. The term henceforth has always seemed so low class when used to refer to children. Why must The NewsHour allow Bowser to get away with this? Or are all standards of proper English dumbed down to the lowest denominator even on The NewsHour?


Former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Thanks to Dan Froomkin in his White House Watch today for providing links to the testimony and to a video.

Comey describes an improbable scene at the intensive care sickbed of John Ashcroft after the president called Ashcroft's room to say that he was sending over Alberto Gonzales, then White House Counsel, and Andy Card, Chief-of-Staff to get Ashcroft's signature on extending the secret domestic spying and wiretap program. Comey rushed to the hospital because Ashcroft had handed over his AG powers to him, and they had both previously agreed that the domestic spying program was illegal. Comey knew that the White House was trying to take advantage of the disorientation of the sick Ashcroft in having him sign off on the legality of a program which the DOJ considered problematic.

Even though Card and Gonzales were pretty annoyed at Comey for refusing to sign off, after Ashcroft rose up from his bed to tell them that Comey was then the acting AG, Comey testified that the White House still went ahead and implemented the program for up to three weeks, during which time the authorization lacked the DOJ's and the AG's authorization.

So now we have it. Bush and Cheney continue a spying program which their own Department of Justice considers illegal.

This raises important and troubling questions. How many other illegal programs does the White House implement? What are these programs? How long are they been in existence?

It is necessary to stand back and put the testimony of Comey in perspective. If Bush and Cheney & Co. would continue an illegal spying program for up to three weeks without DOJ's sign-off, then we can better understand the mentality of the president and vice president in establishing and operating prisons like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and those other secret sites. Then we can evaluate the claims of torture and extraordinary rendition. Then when Gonzales comes out and tries to take away lawyers from those inmates, we can better appreciate the destruction of basic constitutional rights engineered by Bush/Cheney aided and abetted by many of their Republican followers in Congress and even by some Democrats.


I want to point out a disturbing article in The Daily Telegraph today on John Bolton and his statements/views that the United States should attack Iran before it gets a nuclear bomb. Toby Harnden writes:

"Iran should be attacked before it develops nuclear weapons, America's former ambassador to the United Nations said yesterday.

"John Bolton, who still has close links to the Bush administration, told The Daily Telegraph that the European Union had to "get more serious" about Iran and recognise that its diplomatic attempts to halt Iran's enrichment programme had failed."

Harnden quotes Bolton as to the United States going it alone in attacking Iran:

"If we can't get enough other countries to come along with us to do that, then we've got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like, because that's the circumstance most likely for an Iranian government to decide that it's safer not to pursue nuclear weapons than to continue to do so. And if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force."

I find it amazing that there are people like John Bolton out there who believe the way to solve all world problems is with guns and bombs. This is what makes the United States government, as it now exists with Bush and Cheney at the top, so dangerous to world peace and order. Has anyone ever told these guys that war planes can never provide the answer? Instead of making enmities that will last centuries, the United States should sit down and negotiate with countries like Iran, instead of constantly demonizing and bombing them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Robin Wright in today's Washington Post reports on Iran's detention of the Iranian-American scholar 67-year old Haleh Esfandiari. I have previously posted comments about this unfortunate situation. See my post on May 11, 2007, and my post on May 12, 2007.

My point was and is that it should come as no surprise that Iran is retaliating against the United States for holding and detaining five Iranian "diplomats" seized in Iraq this past January. Especially after recent news reports that Vice President Cheney won out in his argument that the U.S. should hold these Iranians for at least another six months and not release them even though there is no real evidence against them for spying or aiding Iraqi insurgents.

But the linkage of the five Iranians with the case of Ms. Esfandiari seems non-existent to supporters of the Bush regime, for example, Condoleeza Rice. Robin Wright reports:

"In Moscow, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for Esfandiari's release. Her arrest and detention revealed "the nature of the Iranian regime," Rice told reporters. "She ought to be released and she ought to be released immediately.""

How must the detention of the five Iranians appear to people in Iran? Does it reveal "the nature of the [Bush] regime?"

Yes, Ms. Esfandiari ought to be released and she ought to be released immediately. But so should the five Iranians locked up by Cheney till at least July.


I have just been reading the Second Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Executive Directors of The World Bank on the Wolfowitz matter dated yesterday May 14, 2007.

One of the findings was that Mr. Wolfwowitz, although he was willing to recuse himself from supervision of Ms. Shaha Riza with whom he had a sexual relationship, was not willing to cut off all professional contact at with her at The World Bank. This is in violation of the ethics rules and specifically Staff Rule 4.01, Section 5.02.

"Staff Rule 3.01, Section 4, Supervisory Relationships, provides:

"4.01 Supervisors shall at all times treat staff in a fair and unbiased manner. Treatment of staff shall not be influenced by personal ties between a supervisor in the staff member nor shall it be influenced by race, nationality, sex, religion, political opinions, or sexual orientation of the supervisor or staff member.

"4.01 A sexual relationship between a staff member and his/her direct report, or direct or indirect manager or supervisor is considered a de facto conflict of interest. The manager/supervisor shall be responsible for seeking a resolution of the conflict of interest, if need be in consultation with management, who will take measures to resolve the conflict of interest. Failure to promptly resolve the conflict of interest may result in a finding of misconduct.

"Staff Rule 4.01, Appointment, Section 5, Spouses and Domestic Partners, provides

"5.02 The spouse or domestic partner of a staff member who meets the normal selection standards may be employed by the Bank Group. A husband and wife or domestic partners may be assigned to the same vice presidency or department, if neither supervises the other, directly or indirectly, AND THEIR DUTIES ARE NOT LIKELY TO BRING THEM INTO ROUTINE PROFESSIONAL CONTACT. (emphasis added). They may not be assigned to the same division or equivalent unit . . . "
(PP. 8-9)

Mr. Wolfowitz also wanted to keep The World Bank's General Counsel and other members of the Bank's Legal Vice presidency in the dark about the negotiation of terms of Shaha Riza's salary. Wolfowitz choose not to disclose "matters that had the potential to expose The World Bank to legal and reputational hazard.) (P. 49)

The Ad Hoc Committee concludes that Wolfowitz violated the Code of Conduct of The World Bank, as well as Staff Rules 3.01 (Standards of Professional Conduct), 5.02 (Consideration of Promotion for External Service), and 6.01 (having to do with the amount of salary raises allowed to employees). (P. 46 ff)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Messrs Bush and Cheney continue to think the United States can solve all national problems by bombs and missiles. How else explain the move by the U.S. to implant missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland? There must be some flaw in the American psyche that causes Americans to want to control everything at the barrel of a gun. That's why Mr. Cheney said in campaigning for the 2000 elections that he would beef up the U.S. military. I am sure that promise had a a positive effect on those many Americans who think war is the answer to all problems.

So I can understand Vladimir Putin's concern over American militarism. He and most Russians must think that missiles placed in European countries adjacent to Russia are a direct affront to Russian sovereignty and self-defense. American proponents of the missiles claim they are defensive as against Iranian or North Korean aggression. But this is made up of whole cloth. Iran does not have a missile that can reach Europe, much less the United States. And it has no nuclear weapons. North Korea has its hands full just putting bread on the table for its citizens.

Furthermore, why must the U.S. constantly treat Iran as the enemy? I want the U.S. to sit down with Iran as well as with North Korea and negotiate from a friendly non-belligerent posture. How come Russia befriends those "evil-doers" Iran and North Korea? Why don't both countries constitute an "imminent" and "deadly" threat to Russia? Why is the United States the only country that believes itself the target of these "enemy" countries? Instead of American foreign policy being paranoid, let's dump Bush/Cheney and establish a sane foreign policy that believes in friendly negotiation rather than bellicose missile rattling.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Damien Cave writes today in The New York Times that five soldiers died and three were reported missing in Iraq yesterday.

"A coordinated attack on seven American soldiers and an Iraqi Army interpreter Saturday morning south of Baghdad left five of them dead and three missing, the United States military said.

"The attack occurred near Mahmudiya, a rural area that is a stronghold of militants in Al Qaeda, and military officials said they were not sure if the interpreter was among the dead. That suggested that the five bodies found at the site of the attack, near two burned vehicles, were unrecognizable."

And Bush claims the United States is making "progress" in Iraq. What a load of bull. As Harry Reid said, the war in Iraq is lost.

If Bush and Cheney think there is "progress," I suggest they both volunteer their children for the U.S. military. Surely the Army will ship them off to the streets of Iraq. Let's see how they like being sacrificed on the altar of IEDs. Better yet, both Bush and Cheney should take up residence in Baghdad. We then can all observe how they fare.

One of the silliest comments about Iraq was made today by Sen. John Mc Cain on Meet the Press. Here is how Steve Benen at Talking Points Memo described McCain's comments:

"It was a credibility-killing moment for John McCain. Last month, the senator insisted that there are parts of Baghdad are (sic) safe for Americans to go for a stroll and that General Petraeus travels around the city "almost every day in a non-armed Humvee." Obviously, that was wrong. McCain took this to the next step, of course, when he went to a Baghdad market, surrounded himself with 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships, and then told reporters that was able to walk freely in Iraq's capital.

"Tim Russert asked him about this on Meet the Press this morning. McCain responded:
"I'll be glad to back to that market -- with or without military protection and Humvees, etc.""

Oh yeah, sure! John McCain walking in a Baghdad market all by himself. That would be something to see. Any one want to wager how long he would last?

Saturday, May 12, 2007


David Sanger writes in today's The New York Times that Vice President Dick Cheney warned Iran that the United States was prepared to use its military might if Iran tried to develop nuclear weapons or if it tried to dominate the Middle East.

"Vice President Dick Cheney used the deck of an American aircraft carrier just 150 miles off Iran's coast as the backdrop yesterday to warn that the United States was prepared to use its naval power to keep Tehran from disrupting oil routes or “gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.” . . ."

"“With two carrier strike groups in the gulf, we’re sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike,” he said, according to an official transcript of his remarks. “We’ll keep the sea lanes open. We’ll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic threats. We’ll disrupt attacks on our own forces. We’ll continue bringing relief to those who suffer, and delivering justice to the enemies of freedom. And we’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.”"

This is an amazing paragraph. Take the last three words, "dominating this region." Why does the United States care who dominates the Persian Gulf? If the answer is oil, then why must the U.S. continually resort to military force instead of diplomacy to get what it wants? One would think that Bush and Cheney might have learned a lesson from Vietnam that a nation, no matter how large its inventory of war planes and incendiary bombs, cannot dictate to the rest of the world by use of its military force.

Nothing is ever permanently won by military force or aggression. The secret to good foreign relations is the use of diplomacy. In other words, why can't the United States befriend Iran? The Iranians are like everyone else. They want peace and good foreign relations. I am sure they resent being threatened with military force by Cheney and Bush.

We cannot permit Bush or Cheney to start a war against Iran. Given Cheney's speech from the aircraft carrier quoted above, I have no doubt that Bush and Cheney would like nothing better than a war with Iran. Bush sees everything in stark terms of good versus evil. But suppose it is really Bush and Cheney and the Americans who are the evil mongers? The problem is we don't know for sure. Perhaps Iran is the shining beacon of pure light. Then a war by the U.S. against Iran would mean forces of evil starting a bloody war against the forces of good.


I watched Margaret Warner's discussion last night on The NewsHour with her two guests Lee Hamilton and Karim Sadjadpour about Iran's holding 67-year old Ms. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, after she went back to Iran to visit her ailing 93-year old mother. As I indicated in my post on May 11, 2007, on the same subject, I am against Iran taking Ms. Esfandiari into custody and detention without any evidence she did anything wrong.

I am also against a decision by Bush and Cheney to arrest the five Iranians in Iraq in January 2007, and in deciding to keep them in custody even though there is no evidence they did anything which would justify their imprisonment, other than being Iranians.

I think the way to secure the release of Ms. Esfandiari is for the United States to sit down and negotiate with Iran over these detainees.

I heard nothing from Margaret Warner or her guests remotely suggesting this diplomatic stategy. Nor did anyone mention the obvious connection between the detention by the U.S. of the five Iranians with Iran's detention of Ms. Esfandiari.


I repeat here a complaint I made on March 5, 2007, about Nightly Business Report (NBR) and its airing videos corresponding to whatever subject at hand it discusses. NBR continues to serve up videos of everything from airplanes taking off, to cars rolling off the assembly line, to Intel fabricating chips, each one corresponding to NBR's story on airplanes, cars or microchips. The videos have nothing to do with the particular story. For example, NBR airs a clip of a Delta commercial aircraft taking off if the story has to do with, say, Delta's bankruptcy.

"A story about Intel, and we must see computer chips being manufactured. A story about Delta, and NBR forces us to watch aircraft landing and taking off. NBR must think that its viewers are village idiots. Here's a tip to NBR - just present the story. Eliminate the dumbed-down videos."

NBR must think its viewers are all dumb yokels who require constant visual stimulation in order to understand the points of some business story. This is dumbing down beyond all reason. I say to NBR - present the business news, your viewers are capable of concentrating on the point at hand without the dumb videos.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I agree with Senators Obama, Mikulski and Cardin that Iran should release the 67-year old scholar, Haleh Esfandiari, taken into custody while she was on a trip to Iran visiting her 93-year old mother. I think it is unjust for Iran to be detaining this lady, just as I think it is cruel and unjust for the United States under Bush and Cheney to be arresting and detaining the five Iranian diplomats picked up in Iraq in January. See my post on April 14, 2007 on their arrest and detention.

As to Ms. Esfandiari, Robin Wright in the Washington Post writes today:

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and three senior lawmakers today called for the immediate release of Haleh Esfandiari, the American scholar imprisoned in Iran this week after being under virtual house arrest for more than four months.

""The Iranian government's detention of this 67-year-old grandmother and scholar shows its complete disregard for basic human rights," Obama said in a statement. "If the Iranian government has any desire to engage the world in dialogue, it can demonstrate that desire by releasing this champion of dialogue from detention."

"In a joint statement, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both Maryland Democrats, urged Iran to make a "gesture of goodwill" to the American people by immediately releasing Esfandiari, who is director of the Middle East program at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a resident of Potomac."

This is not complicated to solve. The United States detains and arrests five Iranians. Iran detains and arrests Ms. Esfandiari. Both countries believe the arrests on the part of the other are unjustified and unwarranted. I call upon Bush and Cheney to work for the release of Ms. Esfandiari by sitting down and negotiating with Iran as to the release of the five Iranians. There is no reason why the U.S. should consider Iran an "enemy" or "adversary." But the arrest of Ms. Esfandiari should not be considered to be out of the blue or unexpected, given the detention of the five Iranians since January 2007.


BBC World News on our local TV station had an update on Madeleine McCann, the three-year old who was kidnapped from her bed eight nights ago in Portugal at Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, where her family was vacationing. has an update today on Madeleine. And here is BBC's Search for Madeleine in Pictures. BBC reports:

"The toddler is believed to have been taken from her bed while her parents were eating at a nearby restaurant and regularly checking on her and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie."

This is a story that needs to appear on The NewsHour and on NPR news. So far I have seen and heard nothing about this sad story on American public and/or commercial broadcasting. We need to get American child-disappearance experts and criminal profilers on this case.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Alissa J. Rubin writes today in The New York Times that Vice President Dick Cheney told the troops in Iraq that their fight was an integral part of the War on Terror.

"Mr. Cheney framed the troops’ efforts as part of the fight against global terrorism and made no promise that an end was in sight.

"“We’re fighting a war against terror,” the vice president said, according to the prepared text of his remarks. “We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war.” "

This is just more bluster and spin from one of chief architects of the worst foreign policy mistake in United States history. Cheney's wants so much to justify the administration's Iraq catastrophe that he illegitimately conflates bin Laden's Islamist campaign against the West with the Iraqi insurgency. Let's get this straight once and for all, Mr. V.P. There is no connection between Osama's tactics of terrorism and the Baathists fueling the insurgency that your guy Bremer threw out of the government and civil service.

Iraq is not part of the "global War on Terror." No amount of spin or outright lying can change this fundamental reality. Soldiers of the United States are currently occupying a proud Arab country, whose history and culture far surpass that of America. The reason Iraqis are trying to kill American soldiers has nothing to do with Bush and Cheney's War on Terror. It has everything to do with hatred of a foreign occupier and national pride.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


The BBC reports today another 21 civilians were killed by U.S. air raids on civilians houses in Afghanistan.

"US-led forces have killed at least 21 civilians in an air strike in southern Afghanistan, local officials say. Helmand provincial Governor Asadullah Wafa said civilian homes were bombed in Sangin district, where foreign and Afghan troops are battling the Taleban . . ."

"Wednesday's reported deaths came a day after the US military said it was "deeply ashamed" over the killings of 19 Afghan civilians by US Marines in early March."

U.S. military action in both Iraq and Afghanistan shows the futility of relying on bullets, bombs and fighter jets to "win." Killing people will never be a successful way to achieve political ends. If the political goal of the United States is to make the people of Afghanistan friendly to the U.S., dropping napalm bombs on villages will always result in just the opposite - Afghanis who hate the United States and will do anything to take revenge.

Militarism can never be the answer for U.S. political problems. Beefing up the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines Corps, spending billions on new carriers, developing the smartest weapons - all these expressions of a militaristic view of the world will never succeed in making enemies of the U.S. its friends.


The Washington Post yesterday printed the guest list for the White Tie Dinner for Queen Elizabeth at the White House. There were 134 persons on the guest list. Some of the names on the list cause questions.

Why were four of the guests working White House journalists? Blogger Will Bunch asks this question and answers it by pointing out how inappropriate it was for these four journalists and their friends/spouses to attend. How can these reporters be objective and act at arms length the next time they ask their host (Bush or his spokespersons Perino or Snow) a question critical of the administration?

"They are Richard Wolffe of Newsweek; Robin Roberts of ABC; David Gregory of NBC News; and Steven Holland, a Reuters reporter. Wolffe, Gregory and Holland are White House correspondents, while Roberts is co-anchor of the news program "Good Morning America." I single them out because they were guests last night -- but dozens of other Beltway journalists have attended these swank White House affairs in the past, dating back into prior administrations."

"In fact, the reporters at last night's state dinner are among the best in the business -- but that doesn't matter, because the message they send to the viewing and reading public when they don that white tie and tux is all wrong. From the CIA leak case to the horrific coverage of the run-up to war in Iraq, we have all seen time and time again the hurtful effects of when journalists see themselves as catering to powerful people they cover instead of the humble masses they are supposed to serve. "

"Journalists should not be a part of a royal class in America. Staying away from state dinners would be a small first step."

Some of the other surprises. According to Mary Ann Akers in her blog, The Sleuth in the Washington Post, "All Tied Up for Queen's Dinner at White House," the official White House guest list has Lynne Cheney as "The Honorable Lynn Cheney." How did she ever get that title? Is she an officer of the United States? Of course not. Here is a good example of all these hangers on in the Bush regime seeking honorable status and titles.

And speaking of Lynn Cheney, why were her brother (Mark Vincent) and sister-in-law (Linda Vincent) invited? Also her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Philip Perry? How do they have any connection with the Queen? All told, counting the VP, there were six Cheneys at the dinner for the Queen.

And those who were not there. Where was former president Bill Clinton? Where were the current presidential candidates, both Republican and Democratic? Where was Bush 41?

Take a good look at this list. It is top heavy with Bush cronies and contributors.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


So VP Dick Cheney is leaving today for a trip to the Middle East. Tom Raum of the Associated Press (published today in the Washington Post) reports the countries Cheney plans to visit:

"Cheney's first stop will be Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Other announced stops include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Cheney also will visit the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in the Persian Gulf."

Tom Raum explains the purpose of Cheney's visit:

"Vice President Dick Cheney is reaching out to moderate Arab leaders for help in bringing stability to Iraq, a mission that will include pleas for postwar support for minority party Sunnis."

Consider this: Cheney plans to visit Arab countries with a population made up of Sunnis. There are no countries on Cheney's itinerary that have a majority of Shia. The resulting question must be how can Cheney effect any change in the catastrophic situation and civil war in Iraq if the only governments he will be visiting are Sunni regimes? Iraq is predominantly Shia. The minority Sunnis and the majority Shia in Iraq are in the throes of a fierce civil war. What does Cheney think he can accomplish? Get the Arab Sunni governments to tell their Sunni counterparts in Iraq to cool it, and thus expose themselves to the guns and bombs of their Shia enemies?

This Cheney trip exposes the desperation of Bush & Co. over the looming American defeat in Iraq. A stinging defeat self-caused by Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and Tenet and all those other neo-cons like Wolfowitz and Perle and Feith.