Judge Mukasey is apparently afraid of tipping his hand on whether waterboarding is torture. He does not want to incriminate those CIA agents and other federal agents who inflicted waterboarding and other methods of torture on suspected terrorists. (See story today by Dan Eggen in The Washington Post.)
Any CIA agents or government employees who engaged in waterboarding should be prosecuted. Republicans like to talk of "personal responsibility," and it should apply here a fortiori. Just because a CIA agent receives an instruction from a superior to subject a suspect to waterboarding is not justification for that agent to inflict this cruel harm. An agent can always quit. He or she can always refuse this unlawful order.
We all know waterboarding is a form of torture. It has a long unsavory history, dating back to at least the Inquisition where it was used on suspected heretics. It produced the results desired, namely, the "heretic," after nearly being drowned, always confessed to being allied with the devil.
As I have written in previous posts, Mukasey should volunteer to be the "suspect" in a test of waterboarding. Surely after the test, Mukasey can have a better idea of the nature of the "interrogation."
The same waterboarding should be the punishment for the CIA agents who are convicted of having inflicted it upon their captives. Surely if it is not cruel and unusual punishment and not "torture," then it would be a fitting penalty.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Judge Mukasey is apparently afraid of tipping his hand on whether waterboarding is torture. He does not want to incriminate those CIA agents and other federal agents who inflicted waterboarding and other methods of torture on suspected terrorists. (See story today by Dan Eggen in The Washington Post.)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Judge Mukasey refuses to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee whether he considers "water-boarding" to be a form of torture. Dan Eggen writes for The Washington Post:
"Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats today that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is "repugnant," but he does not know whether the interrogation technique violates U.S. laws against torture."
Remember water-boarding has been around since at least the Inquisition as a method of making heretics confess they were in league with the devil. And, frankly, it succeeded in getting people to admit their connection with Satan.
If Judge Mukasey does not have enough information to tell whether it is torture and thus illegal, I have a suggestion. Your Honor, experience it for yourself. Have some CIA agents come around to your chambers with a board with straps for you to lie on and be strapped down. Then have someone put a towel over your nose and mouth and head. Then pour water on top of it so that you are ingesting and breathing in the water. Undergo this "experiment" for at least five minutes.
I am sure that after this test, Judge, you will be most certainly an expert on whether water-boarding is torture. You then will surely testify that water-boarding is illegal both under U.S. and international law because it inflicts terrible psychological pain and destruction upon the victim.
In the meantime, the Senate Judiciary Committee should refuse to vote to let your name out of committee.
Sometimes articles appear that cause me the reader astonishment. Such is the article by Richard Cohen in today's The Washington Post. Called "Bush's Legacy of Cynicism," it starts out bemoaning Bush's policies which have cause the lack of credence put in government many of us share.
So far so good. But then Cohen goes on to say how real the "threat" is from Iran and from the Revolutionary Guard. So Cohen's article is not about the duplicity of George Bush and Dick Cheney and their minions. It is really a call to arms against Iran. Here's Cohen:
"But the true realism is that Iran is a menace -- potentially a great one -- and that its Revolutionary Guard is engaged in the dirty business of killing Americans and others. The fact that the Bush administration says so does not make it otherwise."
Cohen apparently was gung-ho for the war against Iraq. Now he is breathless for a war against Iran. He says we have "evidence."
"As the resolution states, the American military has "evidence" -- the word is Gen. David Petraeus's -- of Iranian activity. "This is not intelligence," the general told Congress. "This is evidence, off computers that we captured, documents and so forth." Petraeus didn't get his stars for nothing. He knows the level of well-earned cynicism that the word "intelligence" now engenders in Congress. Evidence! He's talking evidence."
Mr. Cohen, you talk about "the true realism . . . that Iran is a menace." And then you talk about "evidence." If Bush, Cheney or Petraeus had hard evidence, they would be besieging the news media morning, noon and night with it. There is no "evidence" that Iran is supplying IEDS or EFPs. Any garage in Baghdad is capable of fashioning these explosives, and probably do. Just because Petraeus says we have "evidence" does not make it so, any more than Bush, Cheney and Rice claiming Saddam had WMD.
You would take us to war with Iran over non-existent evidence? You would have the U.S. Senate endorse a resolution saying that Iran is killing American soldiers solely on the basis of what some Bush loyalist says or claims?
No thanks, Mr. Cohen. This time, I for one am not buying into your pie-in-the-sky demonization of Iran and Iranians. Instead of attacking or bombing Iran, let's sit down and begin to talk with them. I remind you, this is the year 2007, not 1007.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I like to direct my readers to Glenn Greenwald at Salon. com. Glenn has received several e-mails from Col. Steven Boylan, public relations aid to General Petraeus in Baghdad. The bizarre element to this exchange of e-mails is that Col. Boylan seems to say that he did not send them and that they are forged fakes.
"There are only two possibilities, both of which are self-evidently newsworthy. Either:
(1) Col. Boylan sent me that first polemical, blatantly politicized email and then falsely denied having sent it, or,
(2) someone has the extraordinary ability to fabricate emails which have every appearance -- even to advanced computer experts -- of being authored by and sent from the computers of some of our highest-ranking military officials in Iraq (or, worse, to obtain direct access to their Centcomm computers), a possibility about which Col. Boylan expressed total indifference and then refused to address.If someone really is able to replicate emails from high-ranking military officials in Iraq, think about what a serious breach that is. Can the fabricators also send emails to commanders in the field or to political decision-makers in Washington?"
From comparing the e-mail addresses and route information on the "Boylan e-mails," they seem to be the same as that originating from e-mails that Boylan does admit to have sent. After reading the e-mails sent to Greenwald, perhaps one explanation of Boylan's reluctance to accept authorship is that they are full of mean put-downs and irrational non-sequiturs. It is one think to argue a point with legitimate argument, another to personally disparage the person with whom you argue.
Read the "Boylan e-mails" and then come to your own decision about Boylan's style and modus operandi. I think you will agree with me that the author of the "Boylan e-mails" sent to Greenwald is most comfortable when he can disparage and demean.
Al Jazeera.com reports that Egypt under Hosni Mubarak is engaging in building several nuclear power plants.
Writes Al Jazeera:
"Egypt is to build several civilian nuclear power stations around the country. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, said on Monday that a decree to establish a higher council for the peaceful use of nuclear energy will be issued in the next few days.
""I declare before you the decision to start a programme to build a number of nuclear power stations to generate electricity," Mubarak said."
Egypt once before initiated plans for nuclear technology development but put it aside after the nuclear disaster at Chenobyl.
"The announcement relaunches a nuclear programme that was halted more than 20 years ago.A nuclear energy programme started by Egypt in the 1970s was abandoned in 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.
"Mubarak said the programme will take place "within a framework of transparency and respect of commitments to the nuclear non-proliferation system".
And it appears that George Bush and the United States are putting up no objections to Mubarak's nuclear plans. Consider the difference in U.S. policy towards Iran. Egypt is a moslem nation, mostly Sunni. Iran is a moslem nation, mostly Shia. Both Egypt and Iran have unenlightened attitudes to freedom of the press and individual rights. However, Egypt is much more draconian in its penal and police systems. The U.S. has sent suspected terrorists to Egypt to be interrogated, meaning through methods of torture. Yet the U.S. has no objections to nuclear power developed by Egypt while it threatens to start a world war to keep nuclear power away from Iran.
Writes Al Jazeera:
"Amr el-Kahky, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo, said while the announcement was not wholly unexpected it did come as something of a surprise after 12 months of silence on the nuclear issue.
""Egypt has spoken to the United States about it, and talked to the regional powers here, explaining exactly what they need," he said.
""They need nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes, for energy generation, especially with Egypt's energy needs growing year after year with the ever-growing population".
El-Kahky said that Egypt's population of 76-77 million needs at least 10 per cent increases in power annually.
""This is very demanding and Egypt has to live up to the challenge. The United States has never said no to that, so long as it is peaceful", el-Kahky said."
Today's The New York Times has both an editorial and a Paul Krugman op-ed that mention Iran's nuclear program. I think the premise in both of them is wrong - that the West cannot allow Iran to continue to develop its nuclear program and in the process secure the know-how to build a nuclear weapon.
This premise will help war-mongering U.S. neo-cons justify an attack upon Iran. Already Norman Podhoretz is clamoring for the bombing of Iran as soon as practically possible. Bill Kristol on FOX also seems to take every opportunity to urge Bush/Cheney to take military action.
So why is the premise wrong?
First, Iran has every right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is given this right under that treaty.
Second, even if Iran is developing a nuclear weapon in contravention of the NPT, it is totally understandably given the militaristic history of Bush/Cheney and their disastrous invasion of Iraq. Look at the history of the U.S. when it comes to mounting an attack on another country. North Korea had a nuclear arsenal; Iraq did not. The U.S. attacked Iraq, not North Korea. Having a nuclear war chest is insurance against being attacked by the United States. So Iran has every rational inducement to obtain technology to build a nuclear weapon.
We can live with a nuclear Iran. Just as we live with Pakistan, India, France, Russia, China, North Korea, Great Britain and Israel. Iran has shown no inclination, in contrast to the United States, with invading, attacking and/or occupying other countries. We should be more afraid of the policies of Bush/Cheney than those of Iran.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Now Israel pledges not to cause a humanitarian crisis as it reduces power and fuel to Gaza. See the story reported by the BBC. I guess Israel is just going to cause minor inconvenience when Gaza residents have electricity only a few hours a day or they suffer fuel rationing for their autos.
Someone please explain to me why this is not collective punishment? It is just as bad when a grade school teacher holds the whole class back because of the disruptions of a few. It makes no sense, and besides it is unethical. It is also immoral and illegal.
Israel cannot cut off power to a whole population because it wants to punish the acts of the few who fire rockets into Israeli cities. Unless collective punishment is moral and legal. Cutting off water and power now, what will be the next step? Kill half the population as the Romans did two thousand years ago when they wanted to get revenge for seeing their soldiers killed , or as the Nazis did in Italy after popular uprisings.
Whoever suggested cutting the power to Gaza should be dismissed from the Israeli government. And whoever went along with this immoral collective punishment should be booted out of office by Israeli voters.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The BBC reports heavy fighting in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. And who is doing this fighting? Ethiopians. These are invaders and occupiers of Somalia, much like the United States is in Iraq.
The result is heavy casualties for residents of Mogadishu. Writes the BBC:
"Some of the heaviest fighting in months has broken out between Ethiopian forces and local insurgents in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Residents said that at least 10 people had been killed amid shell and machine-gun fire as the Ethiopian forces launched an offensive. Somalia has seen a surge in violence since Ethiopian-backed government troops ousted Islamists last December."
Ethiopians need to get out of Somalia. They need to stop firing upon civilians. They need to hold their fire and spare lives of Somalians.
And George Bush needs to stop inciting the Christian Ethiopians from attacking and killing Somalians. Since the Somalians are mainly muslim and the Ethiopians christian, Bush thinks it is morally justified to encourage the Ethiopians, notwithstanding the destruction and loss of innocent life the Ethiopians are causing.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Why are Bush and Cheney so enamored of a missile defense system based in some of former Soviet bloc countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic? It is as if they are obsessed with Iran.
Putin is right. There is no need for a missile defense system. First of all, it does indeed threaten Russia. If I was Putin, I too would be completely against the United States on this hair-brained idea.
Furthermore, there is no threat from Iran. The Iranians would be our friends if we agreed to sit down with them and talk to them as equals instead of the Bush/Cheney SOP of hectoring and threatening them with missiles and bombs. The Iranians have no reason to act hostilely towards the U.S. There are many Iranians who live in the U.S. and who go back and forth regularly to Iran to visit relatives. Why would the government of Iran launch an attack against a country that is the home to many Iranian ex-patriates?
It is the U.S. that has threatened Iran, not Iran the U.S.
Bush and Cheney should back off their war mongering against Iran. And the costly missile defense system that they propose against some imaginary Iranian threat should be discarded in favor of respect, diplomacy and negotiation
NAMING IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD "TERRORIST" ORGANIZATION BRINGS THE U.S. ONE STEP CLOSER TO STARTING WORLD WAR
Vladimir Putin is right. The U.S. and George Bush/Dick Cheney are like mad men running around with razor blades in their hands looking for someone to cut up. By declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorist organizations, Bush and Cheney have moved the U.S. one step closer to war. After making a catastrophic mess by their unjustified war in Iraq, now these American "leaders" really want to start a new world war.
I have a better way. Let the Americans sit down with the Iranians and talk to them. Each side could communicate its aspirations and fears. The U.S. needs Iran as much as Iran needs the U.S. Both countries have citizenry that can contribute to peace in the world.
So George Bush and Dick Cheney. Stop the war mongering and the threats of war. Americans want a peaceful relationship, and so do the Iranians.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We have just returned from hearing David Sanger of The New York Times give a lunch-hour talk at Salt Lake Community College.
I specifically asked Sanger if he were satisfied with his sources for his story in the NY Times on October 13, 2007, about the Israeli air raid on what some people say was a Syrian nascent nuclear weapons plant. Steve Clemons in his The Washington Note expressed some doubt on whether the "nuclear" development plant was more accurately a plant to weaponize Syria's missiles with non-nuclear warheads. Sanger did not quite answer directly yes or no to my question on his sources. He pointed to photos in today's NY Times of the supposed nuclear plant. I personally found the photos not convincing and not corroborating.
The real purpose of George Bush and Dick Cheney in designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as "a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction" is to demonize the Iranian military in preparation for an attack against Iran and the Iranian people.
Here we see the Bush/Cheney doctrine for what it is - a ruthless desire to eliminate, literally, any country that fails to go along with the hegemonistic policy of the Bush government by attacking it with bombs and missiles.
The same threat is implicit in the Bush/Cheney policy towards Venezuela, Cuba and Syria. Do what we say or else. Don't call George Bush "the devil." Either you with us or against us. And if you are against us, we'll kill you with our tanks and bunker-busting bombs.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In today's The New York Times, Philip Shenon writes that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Panel have signed a letter to Judge Michael Mukasey, Bush's nominee to be Attorney General, asking him to retract his statement about the legality of water-boarding.
"All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, on Tuesday for a clear-cut statement that the interrogation technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning and has been used by the C.I.A. against terrorism suspects, is illegal.
"In his confirmation hearings last week, Mr. Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, declined to say if waterboarding was torture or was otherwise illegal; he insisted he was not aware of how the technique was carried out."
Mukasey should be rejected unless he answers truthfully and directly. To think a former federal judge on the Court of Appeals would not know if water-boarding was torture is simply beyond belief. Mukasey was obviously defending the practices of Bush and Cheney, the people who are appointing him.
By refusing to answer and say that water-boarding is torture, Mukasey becomes a dangerous nominee. The president for all his powers does not have the power to violate the Constitution and all our other laws. The president may not violate an individual's rights under the Bill of Rights. In other words, the president may not make torture a legal action on his say-so because the president is subject to the rule of law just as the rest of us. Because Mukasey fudges and obfuscates on this central principle of American democracy, he does not deserve to be the chief law enforcement official of the United States.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
We see clearly the priorities of George Bush. He vetoes health insurance for children costing some 35 billion over five years because it would be too expensive, and then a day or two later, he proposes 80 billion more in defense spending, bringing the year's total to 200 billion. More money to kill people and yet no money for children's health insurance. As he said, let them go to the emergency room if they are sick.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Dan Froomkin writes today in washingtonpost.com about the reaction to Mr. Cheney's bellicose war-mongering speech given to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy yesterday in which he made threats against Iran. Froomkin identifies the audience as a "pro-Israel think tank."
Froomkin quotes Fareed Zakaria writing in Newsweek:
"Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek: "The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is 'like Hitler . . . a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.' For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.
""Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on? . . .
""We're on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country's vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to us -- just as Iraq had become in 2003.""
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Matthew Barakat reports for AP that Dick Cheney is at it again - threatening Iran with dire consequences for causing trouble in the Middle East.
"The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.
""Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions," Cheney said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.
"He said Iran's efforts to pursue technology that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that "the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time."
"If Iran continues on its current course, Cheney said the U.S. and other nations are prepared to take action. The vice president made no specific reference to military action."
A suggestion to Dick Cheney and George Bush. Enough war-mongering against Iran. You guys are intent on starting another war in the Middle East. Haven't you done enough damage in Iraq? Iran has the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes. You have no evidence Iran is working on developing a bomb. And even if it were, the U.S. has thousands of nuclear weapons and war heads. So does Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan, China, England and France. If you were serious in being against nuclear weapons, then take the initiative and renounce them for the U.S. In the meantime, stop this war posturing against Iran.
Cheney calls Iran "a terror-supporting state." Yet there is no evidence that Iran is supporting terrorists or terroristic acts. Nevertheless, Cheney and Bush never cease to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism. But it is the United States that has supported "terrorism," when it supports those regimes that throw people in prison for merely criticizing government leaders. Look at Egypt and Jordan. Furthermore, it is the U.S. that believes in torture and degradation of its prisoners, as in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
So, Cheney and Bush - leave Iran alone, take care of your own abuses and abusive practices.
Today we have another reason to try and convict George W. Bush as a war criminal. The BBC reports that the U.S. military killed women and children in its raids against "criminals" within Sadr City today. Of course, the U.S. military said it was unaware of civilian casualties, although it made much of the body count of the dead "criminals."
Writes the BBC:
"Forty-nine Iraqi "criminals" have been killed in three separate raids in Sadr City in the capital, Baghdad, the US military says.
""The operation's objective was an individual reported to be a long-time Special Groups member specialising in kidnapping operations," it said.
"Iraqi sources said women and children were among those killed, but the US said it was not aware of this."
We could all predict what would happen if Bush invaded and occupied Iraq. Tens of thousands, no, hundreds of thousands, of innocent Iraqi civilians would be killed and wounded. But Bush insisted he knew best. Therefore, he should be responsible for these deaths and he should face the International Court of Justice for these crimes.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The negative reaction to Judge Mukasey's testimony on torture this past week before the Senate Judiciary Committee has not only not died down. It has increased. There were five letters in today's The New York Times, all decrying Mukasey's hedging, and both David Luban and Brian Tamanaha comment critically about his testimony on water-boarding in the legal blog Balkinization.
"I had lunch today with a prominent German Constitutional scholar who was flabbergasted about something that I could not adequately explain. He asked me how the candidate to become the top legal official of the U.S. government could say that he does not know whether water-boarding constitutes "torture" (as Judge Mukasey stated yesterday in his confirmation hearings). My colleague insisted that in Germany any person who uttered such a statement would be finished. He found it shocking that a person could say this in America and still become our Attorney General.
"At first I was surprised at his genuine disbelief; and then I felt a bit ashamed that I did not also react with disbelief. I have become so cynical about the Bush Administration on the torture issue that this strikes me as ordinary stuff. Seeing the astonishment through the eyes of an outsider made me realize how far we have deteriorated in our moral sense about the impropriety of torture.
"For Mukasey to say that he first must study whether water boarding is "torture" is a disgrace."
And Luban presents an easy test for Mukasey and anyone else who equivocates on whether water-boarding is torture:
"So: does waterboarding inflict severe suffering? If you want to do a quick, common-sense reality check, try this. Blow all the air out of your lungs. Then stare at your watch and try not to inhale for ninety seconds by the clock. Then take one quick half-breath and immediately do it again. Now imagine that you’re tied down while you’re doing it and water is pouring over your head and rolling up your nose. Or, if you’re really ambitious, get in the shower and turn it on and try the same hold-your-breath-with-no-air-in-your-lungs experiment with your head tilted up and the water pouring up your nose. Then decide for yourself whether it’s severe suffering."
And here is a letter to the editor printed in today's NY Times by George I. Gordon:
"To the Editor:
"How can the United States hope to regain its position as a respected world leader on the great issues of human rights if its chief law enforcement officer cannot even bring himself to acknowledge the undeniable verity that waterboarding constitutes torture, applying any conceivable definition of that term?"
George I. Gordon, Bronx, Oct. 19, 2007
"The writer served as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1958 to 1961 and was chief appellate attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for that district, 1960-61."
Friday, October 19, 2007
It strikes me as more than ingenuous for Judge Mukasey to claim that he is not familiar enough with "water-boarding" to opine whether it is torture or not. It does not take much legal thinking to see that it is cruel and inhuman. It makes the prisoner think he is going to drown and die. It causes the most excruciating psychological torment. And Judge Mukasey cannot give his opinion on whether he thinks it is torture.
One of the primary canons from the code of legal ethics is for the lawyer always to tell the truth in court. Lawyers can argue zealously on behalf of their clients, but they cannot deceive the court or dissemble to it. In other words, a lawyer cannot withhold evidence or create fictitious evidence or argument.
If this applies to lawyers in court, then a fortiori it must apply to appellate judges testifying to congress. Judge Mukasey has a duty both as a sworn witness and as a lawyer/judge to present his opinions honestly before the senate judiciary committee. He may not dissemble, nor may he deceive the congress.
However, when Judge Mukasey says he does not know for sure whether "water-boarding" constitutes torture, he leaves himself open to those who do not and would not believe him.
Marty Lederman has a post at Balkinization in which he marvels that a jurist of Judge Mukasey's stature cannot say for sure whether he thinks "water-boarding" is a form of torture and therefore unconstitutional. Mukasey has been an appellate judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. So this is someone who has had lifetime tenure as a federal judge under Article III of the Constitution. Yet he is not prepared to say that water-boarding is cruel and unusual and therefore illegal.
I have a suggestion for Judge Mukasey. Try it out on yourself. Ask some CIA agents to come over to your office and perform it on you. Let them tie you to a board, put a cloth over your head and face, and then pour water on it and you. Then you will be better prepared to say whether it is torture.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The House failed to muster enough votes to override Bush's veto on S-CHIP. Aliza Marcus reports in Bloomberg:
"The 273-156 vote today fell 13 short of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a veto. The measure would have added $35 billion over five years to the 10-year-old State Children's Health Insurance Program."
Think Progress reports on Steve King, R-IA. calling S-CHIP a program for illegal aliens and their kids - “Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents . . .”
Think Progress adds:
"Earlier this week, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) told USA Today that he refers to SCHIP as “Socialized, Cuba-style Health care for Illegals and their Parents.”"
Think Progress correctly points out:
"For the record, SCHIP stands for the “State Children’s Health Insurance Program” and does not cover undocumented immigrants. Not surprisingly, King voted today to sustain Bush’s SCHIP veto."
So today is a day when children lose out on medical care and health insurance. Imagine if we had a leader in Washington instead of Bush. We could provide health coverage for all children and, at the same time, end the disastrous war in Iraq.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Bush called another press conference today. He gives reporters only an hour or two notice. Why does he not give them more time? Because he does not want reporters prepared to ask him the tough questions.
Dan Froomkin reports in his White House Watch on washingtonpost.com that Bush was asked for a definition of torture.
"Newsweek's Richard Wolffe asked Bush exactly the question I would have asked:
"QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A simple question.
"QUESTION: What's your definition of --
"BUSH: It may require a simple answer.
"QUESTION: What's your definition of the word torture?
"BUSH: Of what?
"QUESTION: The word torture, what's your definition?
"BUSH: That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture.
"QUESTION: Can you give me your version of it, sir?
"BUSH: No. Whatever the law says."
Bush has consistently refused to say what he means when he says "we don't torture," rendering the phrase essentially meaningless. Saying "whatever the law says" doesn't clear things up at all. It just means that if we do it, his lawyers have found a way not to call it torture."
Also Bush continues to threaten Iran. Now he threatens World War III. Again Dan Froomkin reports:
"For the first time in public, Bush warned of the risk of "World War III" if Iran gets nuclear weapons.
"I believe that the Iranian -- if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace. It would -- this is -- we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. And I take this very -- I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously."
Bush seems intent in attacking Iran before he leaves office. Tell me Mr. Bush, where has an Iranian leader announced that he wants to destroy Israel? Secondly, even if Mr. Ahmadinejad had said rather that Israel (meaning its government) should not exist, why are mere words of the Iranian leader sufficient to start a war against Iran and rain bombs and missiles down upon the Iranians? The Iranians have not started wars against their neighbors or invaded other countries. Only the U.S. has done both of these on multiple occasions within the past 50 years. Think of Panama, Granada, Korea, VietNam, Iraq.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
What is Hillary Clinton thinking? She now threatens Iran with military force on account of its nuclear program. Here's the report by Suzanne Goldenberg in today's The Guardian:
"Hillary Clinton today moved to secure her position as the most hawkish Democrat in the 2008 presidential race, saying she would consider the use of force to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear programme.
"In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine intended as a blueprint for the foreign policy of a future Clinton White House, the Democratic frontrunner argues that Iran poses a long term strategic challenge to American and its allies, and that it must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons.
""If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table," Ms Clinton said."
There's no way I am going to support Hillary Clinton for president if she makes threats like these. I don't want anyone for president who is like or even remotely like George W. Bush. The way to maintain a peaceful world is not through threatening military action but through diplomacy and friendship. Voters must repudiate Hillary's war-mongering. For her military threats, Hillary Clinton deserves defeat in the election.
Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury in W's first two years, writes an interesting op-ed in today's The New York Times proposing universal catastrophic medical insurance for all Americans.
"The two organizing principles would be that the costs of catastrophic care would be spread across the population through insurance, and that while the high costs of serious medical problems would be covered, there would still be large deductibles for most Americans for initial care. (These could be paid out of pocket, or consumers could take out supplemental insurance to cover them.)"
But why can't we as an affluent society provide not only catastrophe insurance but universal health care to all? Instead of wasting billions on the disastrous war in Iraq every month, we could provide not only children, not only seniors, but everyone with both hospital and doctors' care, including universal coverage for prescription drugs.
The only thing stopping such universal health care are the Republicans, like George W. Bush. He has called the S-CHIP program a step towards "socialization of medicine," and "nationalization of health care." The other Republican presidential candidates, like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, mimic Bush's fear of universal coverage. Heck, they would rather have kids go to the emergency room and wait five hours for care rather than allow universal health care. Of course, Bush, Romney and Giuliani all have super health care, government provided from their times in office.
Vladimir Putin might be a dictator and an authoritarian, but he is right in saying that countries like the United States should not use military force against Iran. George Bush and Dick Cheney are itching to lob some missiles at Iran before they leave office. The result of such militaristic foolishness would destroy world peace and order for at least the next 500 years. At least Putin has some common sense.
Nazila Fathi and C.J. Chivers report in today's The New York Times on Putin's speech in Teheran:
"President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia told a summit meeting of five Caspian Sea nations in Iran today that any use of military force in the region was unacceptable and in a declaration the countries agreed that none of them would allow their territories to be used as a base for launching military strikes against any of the others.
"“We should not even think of making use of force in this region,” Mr. Putin said.
"Mr. Putin’s comments and the declaration come at a time when France and the United States have refused to rule out military action to halt Iran’s nuclear energy program, which they believe masks a desire to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for peaceful purposes."
Monday, October 15, 2007
I see where Pres. Bush has justified his veto of the S-Chip bill by claiming that including more needy children under health insurance coverage would be promoting the nationalization of health care. This is too ridiculous to comprehend. Bush is against the federal government helping needy children who would do without care of physicians and hospitals were it not for federal health insurance.
Bush and anyone who supports this mean and cruel veto should be voted out of office. If the federal government cannot intercede and provide needed health care for children who would never obtain it if it were not for S-CHIP, then what is the purpose of having any government whatsoever?
It just goes to show how mean Bush and many Republican ideologues are. To hell with the kids, let them go without medical care. We Republicans must stand firm against these attempts to get the federal government to help.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
As reported in The New York Times today by Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, here is the most ridiculous and hypocritical statement from the mouth of Condoleeza Rice.
"Ms. Rice met with civic and human rights advocates at the American ambassador’s residence here and then, meeting with reporters, indirectly chided Mr. Putin for overseeing a steady erosion of the independent media, the courts and the legislative branch.
"“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development,” she said."
By the way, how did Condi Rice ever deserve to become Secretary of State? It is mystifying. She is way in above her head. Oh, yeah, I forgot, she is a friend of W's.
Now to her statement. Forget about Putin's power. Condi's statement rings more true when we consider the power of George W. Bush. For the first six years of Bush's presidency, there has been no "countervailing institutions." The Republicans controlled both House and Senate, and just rubber-stamped Bush's violations of the U.S. Constitution. Truly the excesses of George Bush were "problematic," as Condi says "for democratic development."
Bush has established torture as the way to interrogate prisoners, established Guantanamo to take prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq and deposit them in no man's land half way around the world, encouraged practices such as went on in Abu Ghraib, spied on citizens without obtaining warrants, initiated an unjustified and illegal war in Iraq that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, politicized the U.S. Justice Department, and on and on.
George Bush is a disaster for American democracy.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Condi Rice is complaining that the Kremlin has too much power, according to a BBC report.
"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has voiced concern about Russia's direction by saying too much power is concentrated within the Kremlin. Her comments, made during a visit to Moscow, will be seen as a thinly veiled criticism of President Vladimir Putin."
How about Condi taking a look at the U.S. hegemony under George W. Bush if she wants to see dictatorial absolute power! The danger to world peace and stability is not Russia and Putin but the United States and George Bush.
Look at what Bush has done to Iraq. The country is a shambles. There is no effective civil authority, there are no services, there is no infrastructure. And all because of Bush's illegal and unjustified preventive war and occupation.
So Condi, stop complaining and whining about Putin. You yourself are part of a government that works havoc throughout the world. Look to George Bush if you want to single out the number one danger to world peace and stability.
Vladimir Putin may be an authoritarian autocrat, but he still deserves credit for standing up to George Bush and Condi Rice on the subject of putting missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland. These missiles are of their very nature destabilizing to surrounding countries. More missiles and armaments are not the answer. Raining down missiles on Iran will solve nothing. So thanks to Putin for objecting and resisting Bush's militaristic push to arm countries in the former Soviet bloc. No missiles in Poland. No missiles in the Czech Republic.
Friday, October 12, 2007
The awarding of the Nobel peace price to former VP Al Gore is well deserved, but I sense that the award is also a way for the Nobel committee to criticize George W. Bush for his head-in-the-sand attitude about global warming. So the Nobel prize awarded to Al Gore is also an "anti-Nobel prize" awarded to Mr. Bush for his manipulation of science and his stubborn refusal to recognize the problem because of his preconceived political views.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"Former president Jimmy Carter is once again lambasting the current occupants of the White House. In one interview yesterday, Carter accused President Bush of abandoning the basic principles of human rights, engaging in torture, and lying about it. In another, he called Vice President Cheney a disaster for our country and a militant who is "trying again to promote once again what might well be a counterproductive and catastrophic military venture.""
Froomkin also provides a link to a video of Carter's interview on the BBC. Writes Froomkin:
"Here's the video of Carter's interview with the BBC's Matt Frei, discussing Cheney's preference for force over diplomacy.
""As usual, Dick Cheney is wrong," Carter said. "He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world. And here he's trying again to promote once again what might well be a counterproductive and catastrophic military venture. . . .
""You know, he's been a disaster for our country. I think he's been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he's prevailed.
""One of his main commitments was to go into Iraq on false pretenses and he still maintains that those false pretenses are accurate.""
I still cannot get over Hillary's vote to designate the Qods division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist" organization. We know that Joe Lieberman has been agitating for resolutions like this one in order to enable Bush and Cheney to launch a military strike against Iran. To learn that Hillary has gone along with this is simply sickening. As John Edwards points out, if there is a Bush/Cheney attack, Hillary is liable to claim that her vote was justified based on faulty intelligence provided by the administration, just as she claims that her vote for the military authorization bill preceding the invasion of Iraq was justified on the basis of what she knew then.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Russian president Vladimir Putin says Russia sees no evidence that Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. Putin may be an autocrat but here he is speaking the truth. There is no creditable evidence that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. Reports the BBC:
"Moscow has no information that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. But he said the Kremlin shared the West's concern that Tehran's nuclear programme should be "transparent". "
The rush of the neo-cons into war with Iran must be stopped. Bush and Cheney will make up any evidence they can however specious and flimsy to justify an Iranian attack. Consider this story on words of Glenn Beck, the personality on CNN Headline News, as reported by Think Progress.org and Digg.com. Beck uses Law & Order to fabricate some specious reason to bolster a strike.
"Iran has long been the puppet master in the Middle East. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just watch any episode of Law & Order. Use the thinking, you know, that helps them solve all the tough cases. Iran has the means, the motive, and the opportunity to try and destroy our American way of life by controlling the Middle East."
So thanks to Putin for speaking the truth. There is no evidence to claim Iran is making a nuclear bomb.
I don't understand Hillary Clinton's position on Iran and the Qods force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. She voted last week to ask the State Department to declare the Qods force a "terrorist" organization.
As former senator John Edwards has pointed out, Hillary's vote plays right into the hands of the neo-con war mongers who would like nothing better than to launch a military attack against Iran. Bush and Cheney then can justify their bombing and missile attack by saying that it was aimed at "terrorists," meaning ordinary Iranians.
There is no proof or creditable evidence that the Iranian government or Iranian military forces are engaging in acts of terrorism. In fact, when the U.S. military claims Iran is supplying IEDs and EFPs to Shiite insurgency groups, it has presented no evidence showing that these explosive devices were made and then supplied by the Iranian government to Iraqi insurgents, and why these arms were not and could not have been made by local Iraqis or people in countries other than in Iran.
So when Hillary casts her vote on the Qods force, all this does is to give George Bush cover to claim that by attacking Iran he was just following the logical progression of the Senate vote.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Afghanistan has resumed imposing the death penalty. The BBC reports that Hamid Karzai's government executed 15 people on last Sunday evening.
"Fifteen people in Afghanistan have been put to death for crimes including murder, government officials say.
"They say that the firing squad deaths are the second confirmed executions since the fall of the Taleban in 2001.
"Officials say the 15 were shot at Afghanistan's largest prison Pul-e-Charkhi. The last such executions were in April 2004. "
And I heard the BBC Radio report within the past several hours that Karzai has defended these executions by saying that other nations too have and impose the death penalty, obviously referring to the practice in many states in the U.S.
Here we see the cruelty of Karzai. Just because other states impose the cruel and inhumane penalty is no excuse for Karzai and Afghanistan to take a person's life. Just as I oppose Iraq as well as any other state, including the United States, executing prisoners, no matter how heinous their crime, so I vehemently oppose Karzai in this barbaric act.
The Washington Post runs a story today by Rick Weiss on flying drones armed with miniature cameras that look just like dragon flies. People have observed the drones flying above political events and demonstrations, leading to the suspicion that the U.S. government is using them to spy on participants. Bush and Cheney can justify anything in their "war on terror."
Reports Weiss quoting an observer:
""I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "
"That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security."
The next thing to expect is that the government will arm these insect-like drones with miniature weapons and bombs. That has been the progression of flying machines since the Wright brothers. Take a new technology of flight and make it an instrument for killing your enemies. Arm the unsophisticated bi-plane with lethal cannon and drop fiery explosive devices on the enemy. What should benefit mankind is turned demonically by government leaders into a new way of killing others.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Reports today indicate that there were anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrations at Teheran University. Iranians are not all supporters of the Iranian president.
The BBC reports:
"A rare anti-government demonstration has been held in the Iranian capital during a speech at Tehran University by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There were scuffles as hundreds of supporters and opponents of the president gathered outside the venue. Eyewitnesses said police used tear gas to hold the demonstrators back. Student leaders had challenged Mr Ahmadinejad to meet them after he spoke at Columbia University in the US of the freedoms enjoyed by Iranian students. The BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran says all gates to the university were locked and journalists were prevented from entering."
But imagine what would happen if George Bush and the U.S. military carry out a strike against Iran and/or its nuclear installations. The whole Iranian people would be instantly unified against the U.S. and American aggression. An attack by Bush would immediately make all Iranians determined to retaliate against America and Americans where ever they might be. There would be everlasting enmity between Iran and the U.S., and this would last for the next 500 years. The one thing George Bush could do that would be more catastrophic and more boneheaded for American policy and world peace than the unjustified invasion of Iraq would be an attack against Iran.
Furthermore there is no reason to use military force against Iran. Consider what would happen if Iran did obtain or fabricate nuclear weapons. Would it use them against Israel? No way, unless the whole Iranian nation were on a course of self-immolation. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and would instantly use them against Iran. The same is true if Iran gave a nuclear device to one of its agents for use in the U.S. Therefore, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, it is not the end of the world. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. So does India. So does China, Russia, England and France. And don't forget about the huge nuclear arsenal of the U.S.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Now we have the top general himself, David Petraeus, coming out and accusing Iran or meddling in Iraq and killing U.S. soldiers.
Dean Yates of Reuters writes in The Washington Post:
"General David Petraeus, speaking at a U.S. military base about 30 km (20 miles) from the Iranian border on Saturday, said Iran was giving advanced weaponry to militias in Iraq.
""They are responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed U.S. soldiers," Petraeus told a small group of reporters when asked if the Iranian government was responsible for killing U.S. troops."
Petraeus said he was sure that Iran was involved:
""There is no question about the connection between Iran and these components, (the) attacks that have killed our soldiers.""
Once again we see and hear these charges from U.S. generals and administration officials, but where is the evidence? Petraeus gives no solid or creditable evidence of Iranian involvement, except to say that Iran is training and arming Iraqi militias.
Writes Dean Yates:
"But Petraeus said he had no doubts about the Qods force.
""There should be no question about the malign, lethal involvement and activities of the Qods force in this country," he said. Petraeus listed the type of weapons he said Iran was supplying to militias in Iraq. He said this comprised advanced rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired "Stinger-like" air defense missiles and 240mm rockets. This was in addition to components used to make explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), a particularly deadly roadside bomb that has killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq."
Let's examine the "evidence" cited by Bush's man, Petraeus.
First the EFPs that Petraeus says are being supplied by Iran. There must be hundreds of cellars and workshops in Iraq that can make and tool these explosively formed projectiles. Most Iraqis hate the U.S. occupation and sympathize with the insurgency of whatever form. There is no way to say that these EFPs come from Iran and not from within Iraq.
Second, how do we know advanced RPGs come from Iran? Once again, the U.S. military just relies on assertions without any creditable evidence backing up their assertions.
Third, how about the stinger-like air defense missiles and rockets? How do we know they do not come from Saudi Arabia rather than from Iran? The answer is, we don't because the Petraeus has not made his case. Furthermore, if Iran were supplying these weapons, every U.S. helicopter and aircraft in Iraq would be in constant danger of being shot down. It is not clear that this is the case.
Petraeus needs to back up his reckless assertions with proof. So far, he has been reckless on his statements but short on the proof. It would seem once again he is being used by Bush and Cheney to demonize Iran and to make it the enemy in preparation for a U.S. strike. We must not allow this to happen
Saturday, October 6, 2007
So Bush has vetoed the Children's Health Insurance Program because he claims it would take children off private insurance rolls and put them on government ones. Oh yeah, sure! This is pure Bush fantasy. Bush says that sick kids who can't afford insurance and who won't qualify for his plan limiting the CHIP program to the poorest of poor kids could just go to the emergency rooms at hospitals for their medical needs.
This is the meanest and most heartless Bush action ever. Let kids go to emergency rooms? Has Bush himself ever gone to a hospital's emergency room for care, or taken his kids to one? Obvioulsly not. Solely on the basis of some antiquated and uncaring conservative political ideological bias, Bush does not want government to insure poor kids. So he vetoes a program agreed upon by both Republicans and Democrats as necessary for children's health in America.
Do Bush supporters really think they can support this mean denial of medical insurance for America's needy children?
Monday, October 1, 2007
I see where John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one of the neo-cons and one of the most bellicose war-mongers, has told a British audience that the U.S. has no choice but to strike Iran militarily.
Ros Taylor reports in The Guardian:
"John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates today that efforts by the UK and the EU to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country."
Bolton goes on to say that Americans, whether Republicans or Democrats, are not inclined to neogtiate and use diplomacy. Writes Taylor:
"There is too much of a view in Europe that you have passed beyond history," Mr Bolton told delegates. "That everything can be worked out by negotiation ... Democrats or Republicans, we [Americans] don't see it that way."
My response to Bolton is, how can you speak for anyone but yourself? You are one of the foremost proponents of bombing Iran, or North Korea, or Iraq. The only way you think U.S. foreign relations can be resolved is raining down cruise missiles on the peoples, countries and governments that don't agree with you.
Well there are other Americans besides yourself who believe war is not the answer. We just need to get past the Bush era (another 16months) before we can escape the danger and catastrophe that your militarism and bellicosity would bring us.