Thursday, July 31, 2008


Today a federal district judge ruled that Congress does have a well-established right to force former Bush aides Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten to testify before its committees and produce documents and records. The judge made hamburger out of George Bush's preposterous claim that executive privilege prevents Congress from serving and executing subpoenas on Miers and Bolten.

Previous decisions of the Supreme Court have ruled that the Executive's assertion of unlimited executive privilege is without legal basis or foundation.

Here is the decision of Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.

I will have more to say on this after I have more time to study the court's holdings.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Dohar WTO trade talks collapsed yesterday in Geneva amid fighting and irreconciliable differences between principally the United States and India and China over the insistence by the U.S. and other more developed countries that they must maintain their farm subsidies.

Anthony Faiola and Rama Lakshmi write in The Washington Post today:

"The failure of the talks after nine days of intense negotiations underscored what is likely to be the biggest challenge in coming years to expanding world trade: the reluctance of emerging juggernauts such as India and China to risk their newfound success by offering rich nations greater access to the hundreds of millions of consumers rising out of poverty in the developing world."

So much for the Bush insistence that "free trade" is always beneficial and an unalloyed bonum. If that were really the truth, the U.S. would have compromised by unraveling its farm subsidies. This sticking point in the Dohar talks has always been the dirty little secret of free-trade agreements. We (i.e. Americans) want you (i.e., the rest of the world, especially, less developed countries) to allow our goods, especially agricultural ones, and our other products into your societies without import tariffs, but we refuse to end our subsidies to our farmers and manufacturers. In other words, "free trade" really is a one-sided agreement. Trade with us Americans and accept our terms, otherwise we will cut you off. This is the American threat.

Report Faiola and Lakshmi:

"The talks in Geneva at times took on a highly charged, personal tone that immediately cast the negotiations as a power struggle between the developed and developing worlds. Within 24 hours of landing in Geneva nine days ago, Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, infuriated First World negotiators, comparing their efforts to hype their proposed trade concessions to Nazi propaganda. His comments drew sharp reprimands, particularly from Washington's top negotiator, U.S. Trade Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors . . . ."

"Opposition to the talks had been building in India since June, when 35 farmers groups from across that nation gathered at a conference in New Delhi to discuss the implications of the trade negotiations with trade and food policy activists. They called upon wealthy nations to remove their farm subsidies, saying such assistance to First World farmers denies a level playing field to subsistence-farming nations such as India."

India and China and other developing countries would not agree this time to American trade intransigence. Thus the much lamented demise of the Dohar Agreement. It shows how Bush and his other Republican "free trade" enthusiasts view the rest of the world, especially the poorer and less economically developed countries.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Sudan, notorious for its treatment of Black non-Muslims in Darfur, has condemned eight rebels to death by hanging. In a court specifically designed to try these insurgents, the judged pronounced the verdict guilty.

So then, what's the difference between Bush's military tribunal at Guantanamo and the Sudan special court? There is no difference. When a government or regime wants to punish those fighting against it, it sets up a special court and renders a death sentence usually by hanging.

Consider Bush's latest move with the death penalty. He has just approved a death sentence against an Army private for killing and rape.

I don't care whether it is Saddam Hussein or Khalid Sheik Mohammed. The state should not be allowed to impose the death penalty. It is barbaric and cruel and it offends against the Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. under Bush is not all that different from Sudan under Oram al-Bashir or Iran under Ahmadinejad. All three countries approve and utilize the barbaric and cruel death penalty to punish offenders.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


As my readers know, I am adamantly opposed to military action by the U.S. or Israel against Iran on account of its nuclear power development. However, from time to time, I think actions of the Iranian government are reprehensible and cruel. Consider for example the news reports today that Iranian authorities executed 29 criminals this morning by hanging.

The BBC reports:

"The latest hangings were carried out after the death sentences were approved by the country's Supreme Court, IRIB reported. "Twenty-nine drug smugglers and well-known bandits were hanged in Evin prison on Sunday at dawn," the statement said. "These criminals had smuggled thousands of kilos of narcotics in the country and outside the country." "

The only countries to rival Iran as the leading executioners are the United States and China. You might think that more civilized a country is, the less it would utilize the death penalty. But that apparently is not so.

For a state to impose and carry out taking a person's life is barbaric, cruel and without societal benefit. Some argue that the death penalty is a deterrent. If so, why does the world still have people who commit crimes punishable by death?

When the state takes a life, it is just as inhumane and barbaric as any murderer. Every imposition of the death penalty must be condemned whether done by China, the U.S. or Iran.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Barack Obama's speech before the Victory Column in Berlin showed off his oratory skills, but did he need to badger the Germans for help in Afghanistan?

The French, Germans and other Europeans are reluctant to commit troops to the fighting in Afghanistan, and they have good reason. Has any invading and occupying foreign force ever defeated the Afghans. Or has it been an exercise in futility, where the clans and tribes one way or another outwit the foreigners and inflict severe losses and punishment upon them?

Instead of fighting a way in Afghanistan, this should be a police action. Soldiers will never win in that strange land.

So instead of asking for more soldiers, Obama should be figuring a way to extract those already there, and bring this bloody war to a quick end.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Israel should stop the almost total blockade of Gaza, says a report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

"“The agricultural sector in the Gaza Strip is close to collapse, as no exports are allowed, and there is a total unavailability of fertilizer, pesticides and other crucial inputs,” according to the report, released yesterday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)."

By sealing off Gaza and its population from food, power and medicine, Israel is in fact applying a hated collective punishment to the Palestinians living there. And I thought that collective punishment was inflicted only by tyrannical regimes intent on punishing the population for the sins and offenses of the few.

When Tony Blair try to visit the leaders of Hamas in Gaza several weeks ago, he had a sudden change of plans after the Israelis told him of a "death plot." Instead of visiting Gaza and seeing the human desperation and misery caused by the Israeli blockade, Tony Blair made other plans. So Tony Blair was scared out visiting Gaza. Who knows if the alleged plot was anything more than a made-up story by Israelis not wanting Tony Blair to get the other side of the story.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Everytime that Bush, Cheney or one of their minions like Condoleeza Rice threatens Iran, the price of oil and gold go up. Apart from this financial effect, the far worse effect of this war mongering is that these guys might cause a nuclear war in the Middle East.

Instead of using tanks and war planes as the primary instrument of U.S. foreign policy, we need to look on other countries as friends, not "enemies." This means the Obama plan of sitting down and simply talking. No country should be threatened by U.S. bully military power. Every country, including Iran, has the right to peaceful use of nuclear power.

Even Gordon Brown, British prime minister, should back off from the threats. Today he said that Iran was pursuing development of nuclear weapons.

The BBC reports on his speech:

"Mr Brown stressed: "Iran has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear weapons programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response, not just of one nation, but of all nations round the world." "

Gordon Brown shows no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons or that it has a "nuclear weapons programme." To the contrary the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate last December opined that Iran had discontinued any nuclear arms development back in 2002. By saying the opposite without any proof, Gordon Brown throws gasoline into the firestorm being fanned by Bush, Cheney and Rice.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Before committing more troops to Afghanistan, Barack Obama should take a step back and re-think the whole role for the United States in Afghanistan.

First, from a historical point of view, has there ever been an occupying force that invaded Afghanistan and defeated the local inhabitants? If there has, they are very few. Afghanistan chews up invaders, mauls them, bloodies their armies, then spits them out.

Second. If the people of Afghanistan wants to adopt an Islamic fundamentalist government, that is their business, and the U.S. has no right to interfere.

Some will say that Bin Laden's attacks on 9/11 show that the U.S. must of necessity defeat the Taliban. But this is not true. Bin Laden and the rest of the Islamic fundamentalists attacked to right what they saw as an unjust occupation by the Americans of Islamic lands like Saudi Arabia where the U.S. insisted on maintaining bases and non-Islamic troops. Were it not for the presence of Americans in Islamic countries, there would have been no 9/11. If you don't agree with this, ask yourself why bin Laden did not attack Japan or Norway. The answer is because those countries did not and don't try to establish air bases in Egypt or Qatar.

Yes, the U.S. under Obama will pull out of Iraq. But Obama should also call for an end to the Afghanistan campaign. The U.S. must withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the Afghanis will add the U.S. to the list of those foreign "invaders" and "occupiers" who found out when all was said and done that they made a big mistake in lives and money by trying to control that fierce land.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Just when I thought things were improving between the Bush regime and Iran, out comes an op-ed today in The New York Times by Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University. Morris says that Israel will almost certainly attack Iran in the next four to seven months.
Writes Morris:

"Israel will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb."

Everything about Morris's assertions is open to disbelief and doubt. Apart from the near certainty of an Israeli attack which is not that certain, consider some of Morris's other wild claims:

  • Teheran is almost every day making threats to wipe Israel off the map - ". . . Israel — the country threatened almost daily with destruction by Iran’s leaders."
  • Most Israelis fear that their country's life is at stake - "Nonetheless, Israel, believing that its very existence is at stake — and this is a feeling shared by most Israelis across the political spectrum — . . ."
  • Every intelligence agency around the world believes that Iran is intent on making nuclear weapons - "Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power."
  • There is no diplomatic solution but only one option available - the military one - "Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran’s march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial assault by either the United States or Israel."
  • The current leaders of Iran are not rational - "Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war."

Everyone of these reckless statements by Morris is based on conjecture and fear-mongering. Even if Ahmadinejad did say that Iran should wipe Israel off the map (something, he did not at all say, but only that he predicted the Israeli government would topple), are words enough to start a war, much less a nuclear conflagration? Would your kid be justified in beating up another kid for calling his mother a bad name? Since when does a country attack another for mere words?

Second. Morris should show which public opinion polls show most Israelis fearing their very survival because of Iran. Where are the poll numbers? What are the poll questions?

Third. Not every intelligence agency believes that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons. Consider the National Intelligence Estimate released last December that said that Iran had given up such plans back in 2002. Furthermore, Morris, if he is so sure, should have listed the agencies that believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Four. Morris minimizes a diplomatic solution. How like Bush and Cheney he sounds. We have seen how effective the military option is in Iraq and Afghanistan. And how about the Israel fiasco in Lebanon against Hezbollah and in Gaza against Hamas?

And finally, Morris demeans and belittle Iran's leaders by saying that they are not as rational as the leaders in Washington or Moscow. The Iranians seem very rational to me. Having seen what the U.S. did to Iraq over the last five years, would it be irrational for the Iranians not to want a nuclear weapon as protection from the militaristic Americans and their Israeli allies?

Benny Morris sounds like another neo-con war monger, a brother militarist to John Bolton and David Addington. The false assumptions and bad judgments in his article will not stand.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Has anyone noticed the price of oil over the last few days? It has dropped about $20 per barrel. And it is not the market's vagaries that explain oil's decline. Rather, it corresponds with news on the diplomatic front that the Bush administration is sending a high-ranking diplomat to participate in talks between the EU and Iran's foreign minister on Iran's nuclear development project.

Elaine Sciolino and Steven Lee Myers write in today's The New York Times that Washington is doing an about-face on its willingness to participate in the talks with Iran.

"The Bush administration’s decision to send a senior American official to participate in international talks with Iran this weekend reflects a double policy shift in the struggle to resolve the impasse over the country’s nuclear program.

"First, the Bush administration has decided to abandon its longstanding position that it would meet face to face with Iran only after the country suspended its uranium enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council.

"Second, an American partner at the table injects new importance to the negotiating track of the six global powers confronting Iran — France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — even though their official stance is that no substantive talks can begin until uranium enrichment stops.

As I wrote on more than one occasion, the price of oil has risen day-by-day as tensions between Washington and Teheran increase. Every time that Bush or Cheney or Rice threatened Iran with "all options on the table," the price of oil went up.

Now oil is under $130, down from its high a few days ago of over $145. The signal from Rice that the U.S. is now willing to talk with Iran as opposed to bombing Iranian cities surely is the key to this drop. Imagine what would happen to the price of oil and gasoline if Bush seriously made an effort to sit down with the Iranians and discuss their concerns!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today in The New York Times Carlotta Gall and Eric Schmitt describe the recent attack by Taliban insurgents on a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban insurgents who attacked a remote American-run outpost near the Pakistan border on Sunday numbered nearly 200 fighters, almost three times the size of the allied force, and some breached the NATO compound in a coordinated assault that took the defenders by surprise, Western officials said Monday.
"The attackers were driven back in a pitched four-hour battle, and they appeared to suffer scores of dead and wounded of their own, but the toll they inflicted was sobering. The base and a nearby observation post were held by just 45 American troops and 25 Afghan soldiers, two senior allied officials said, asking for anonymity while an investigation was under way.
"With nine Americans dead and at least 15 injured, that means that one in five of the American defenders was killed and nearly half the remainder were wounded. Four Afghan soldiers were also wounded."

In the multi-thousand year history of Afghanistan and its tribes, has there been any successful invasion and occupation? The answer is a resounding NO! The Afghanis have defeated one occupier after another. No one survives as a foreign invading force in Afghanistan.

Look what happened to the Russians when they invaded Afghanistan initially in 1978. Ten years later the Russians were pulling out as fast as they could. The Mujahadeen killed Russians by the hundreds, shot down Russian choppers, inflicted cruel punishment for any Soviet soldier unfortunate enough to be captured alive.

So how does the United States think that Americans will win in Afghanistan? And what is wrong with Barack Obama for saying that the U.S. should send two more brigades? Surely Obama cannot believe that the military force of an invading nation, even the powerful U.S. military machine, can possibly succeed where so many other invaders have failed.

Leave Afghanistan to its people and tribes. Withdraw all U.S. and other NATO forces. Stop the indiscriminate bombing of Afghan civilians.

Afghanistan is a black hole where foreigners are destined to lose.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The BBC reports that nine U.S. soldiers have been killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. This follows a week in which U.S. war planes killed 42 Afghan civilians mistaking them for insurgent fighters.

All this loss of life means that the United States should not be in Afghanistan. Americans should stop the killing of Afghanis and stop, at the same time, the loss of life of American soldiers.

The way to solve seemingly intractable problems and conflicts is not through tanks and bombs but through talk and negotiation. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war has been shown ineffective and life destructive.

Pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Let Afghanis determine their own government and their own society.

Friday, July 11, 2008


The stock market as reflected in the DJIA was down over 100 points today. Oil was up some $5 per barrel at one point. Gold rose $19 per ounce. Some commentators claim it was more financial trouble with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Others explain weakness in stocks by saying it was the fault of a declining U.S. dollar. But hardly anyone mentions the elephant in the room - the Bush/Cheney/Olmert cabal against Iran.

Imagine what would happen if these war mongers get their way and launch an attack and bomb Teheran. Here are my predictions:

  • the DJIA would drop 3,000 points
  • oil would rise to $300 per barrel
  • gold would increase to $2,000 per ounce
  • the United States would sink into deep recession
  • grain commodities would double in price
  • endless war for the next 500 years

As it happened today, the stock market, gold and oil all responded to saber rattling by the U.S. and Israel against Iran. Bush criticizes Iran for testing defensive missiles but says not a peep when Israel under Olmert stages a huge exercise several weeks ago involving hundreds of war planes. Even Condoleeza Rice issues bellicose threats.

Some people justify an attack by saying that the Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would cheer when the attack comes. Of course, the Arabs have a known bias and it is racial and sectarian. Most of the Arab states are Sunnis whereas Iran is mostly Shia. Secondly and equally as important, the people of Iran are not Arabs but Persians. The two have never got along, not to mention the built in animosity between Shia and Sunni. No wonder Bush and Cheney find allies in their militaristic bullying of Iran.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Instead of telling Israel of its unqualified support, the United States should do everything within its power to prevent Israel from attacking Iran.

The BBC reports that Israel's defense minister has once again said that Israel is thinking of hitting Iran:

"Israel's defence minister has warned of his country's readiness to act against Iran if it feels threatened.
Ehud Barak, speaking in Tel Aviv, said Israel had "proved in the past that it won't hesitate to act when its vital security interests are at stake". "

First of all, there is no hard evidence that Iran is building, or plans to build, facilities to develop nuclear weapons.

Secondly, even if Iran wanted nuclear weapons, why must it be deprived while Israel has in storage some 200 nuclear bombs? Israel never joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so why should the U.S. and other countries approve of its nuclear arsenal while at the same time saying that Iran would never be permitted to have nuclear weapons?

Thirdly, the only country in the history of the world that has ever dropped nuclear bombs on populations is the United States. The U.S. incinerated over 100 thousand in both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Then it turns around and tries to appear virtuous and pure in describing Iran as a world threat. What hypocrisy!


Why does the United States reproach Iran for test-firing its missiles but refrains from criticizing Israel for engaging in those massive war games involving hundreds of its war planes several weeks ago?

If you were head of Iran, what would you do? You see Israel staging a mock attack on your country. Don't say that you would do nothing. That does not pass the laff test. Of course you would stand up and tell those guys to back off.

Bush and Cheney have this animosity for Iran. Some say the chances are less than 20% that they will have the U.S. attack Iran before the end of their term. I think that ignores the signals coming from Washington. By emphasizing that "all options are on the table," Bush is signaling that he is likely to attack.

The results would be catastrophic for the United States as well as for the world. there would be war unending for the next 500 years. The U.S. would be forever branded as anti-Islamic. No one would be safe. If Iraq was a huge mistake, Iran would be exponentially worse.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


So Iran has tested long range (2,000 KM) missiles in a show of defiance. Condoleeza Rice, spokesperson for George Bush, decries the threat. So does John McCain who knows nothing apart from military force.

What do these Bushites think Iran would do after Israel deployed almost its entire air force in military games to simulate an attack against Teheran? Iran's reaction is entirely reasonable, given how many times Olmert and Bush declare that "all options are on the table," code for "we're going to attack Iran."

Barack Obama calls it a mistake not to open a dialogue with Ahmadinejad, and bellicose John McCain calls that approach "naive." This tells all of us that if McCain wins, we are condemned to another four years of Bush's "endless war."

Anyone who objects to another 500 years of conflict and war should vote for McCain. In the meantime, the rest of us must stop the crazies such as Bush, Cheney, Rice and Olmert from attacking Iran.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Some are against the War in Iraq although in favor of the War in Afghanistan. I oppose both.

Look at what happened several days ago when U.S. warplanes bombed Afghani "insurgents," who, it turned out, were really innocent civilians travelling to a wedding. The death toll exceeded 20.

How many times has this mistake been made by the U.S. military? The trouble with choppers and war planes is that their pilots really cannot know whom they are shooting and killing. It's merely their best guess that the "targets" are "insurgents." In other words, the U.S.A.F. fires at people knowingly aware of the risk that they could be innocent civilians and many could be children.

What is the solution? It isn't to passively accept these atrocities, with some bromide that things like this happen in every war. The answer is to ground all U.S. war planes and helicopters. The U.S. should not even have an air force. Airplanes should be instruments of civilization, not mechanisms of death.

Stop the killing in Afghanistan. Pull all troops out of Afghanistan. Ground all U.S. war aircraft.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The Washington Post weighs in today with an editorial on Gen. Wesley Clark and his comments about McCain's readiness to be president.

All these secret pro-McCain forces seem to want to put down Clark because he said being a fighter pilot is not sufficient reason to be elected president. This seems self-evident. Surely even John McCain would not dispute that serving in the military does not prepare to lead the country.

For once, let's get someone elected president who is capable and intelligent and smart. Not someone who jokes around a lot and makes wise cracks like the president occupant of the office.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We need to stop this mad rush to war with Iran. ABC reported yesterday that U.S. military officials are predicting that Israel will bomb Iran within the year. This is craziness. There is no proof that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Every country has a right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The CIA and the National Intelligence Estimate reported that there is no evidence that Iran is doing otherwise.

So then, why attack Iran? That's why it is so important to elect leaders who don't try to engage in foreign diplomacy with tanks and missiles. All Bush, Cheney and Olmert know is how to kill "enemies" instead of treating other people with respect and negotiation.

Iran is a great country with a great civilization. To attack Iran would be an even more catastrophic mistake than the foolish and unjustified invasion of Iraq.