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Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Luck of the GOP

Look at the luck of the Republican Party:

With luck like this, how can the Republicans not win the election of 2008?


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Byrd in Flight

It was an astounding sight! Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), a one-time grand kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan, stood in the US Senate to rail against Dr. Condoleezza Rice, a black woman, who was nominated to be secretary of state.

In the good old days, Byrd would have worn a sheet and urged a lynching. In these modern times, he just fulminates. That is progress!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

EXPELLING THE US FROM IRAQ

Iraqi elections will be held on January 30. The immediate issue facing the new government of Iraq after the elections will be how quickly to expel the US from Iraq.

That the new government will invite the US to leave is certain. Since it will be a majority Shiite government, it will have to win support from the Sunis and from the insurrectionists/terrorists in order to govern. It can only do this by ridding Iraq of a US military presence. The only question is how soon the new Iraqi government will act on this decision.

Our view is that it will act quickly. Current Pentagon plans to remain in Iraq through 2007 will have to be dumped.

Or will the US try to stay in Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi government?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Kerry Dancing

There is an old Irish song: "Oh, the days of the Kerry dancing...."

The song applies to Senator John Kerry (D-MA), even though he is not Irish (he claims he is, of course, for purposes of running for office in Boston).

Back in Washington, still bitter from his defeat and uncomprehending of the reasons, he is trying to assert his position as shadow president with the aim of assuring himself the Democratic nomination for the 2008 election.

So, he popped up at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. And he made a fool of himself, showing again why he did not win the election last November.

He said that Dr. Rice was qualified for the position and that President was right to appoint her. But he added that he would vote against her confirmation.

So, there is the Kerry Dance: he is on both sides of the issue. The man who cannot make up his mind, who is ambivalent about everything, indecisively endorsed Dr. Rice even as he voted against her. It was all a reminder of why he lost last Novermber's election.

Could we have tolerated him the White House? Could we tolerate him running again in 2008?

Kerry will keep dancing: that is his character and nature. But he will not dance his way to the presidency.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ted Kennedy Babbling

Reporters asked Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) about any lessons learned from the victory of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in the November elections. Here is Kennedy's answer:

"Why don't we ask Osama bin -- Osama Obama -- Obama what -- since he won by such a big amount."


Is this man babbling? Is his mouth connected to his brain? (The frightening thought is that it MAY be!).

What is a more frightening thought is that Senator Kennedy has announced he plans to run for re-election!

Well, he can join Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), and they can babble on together. The US Senate may become the Tower of Babble!

Where are term limits when we need them?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Prince Harry in Uniform

London's tabloid, The Sun, splashed the picture of Prince Harry around the country and the world. There he was in Nazi regalia. The third in line to the British throne wearing a swastika armband and Afrika Corps uniform.

So, we recommend he go on the TLC television show, What Not to Wear. That could improve the ratings of the show and the prince.

In any case, his handlers should simply describe the episode as a "costume malfunction." It worked for Janet Jackson. So why not for the prince?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Romney and the Presidency

It is clear that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney plans to run for president in 2008.

This forecast is not based on his following in his father's footsteps. Nor on his being a red-state governor of a blue state.

No, the sure sign is that he is proposing that the legislature adopt the death penalty. The death penalty establishes the hard-line bona fides that a presidential candidate needs these days to win. Look at Bush, Kerry, Clinton, etc., all proponents of the death penalty.

So, Romney's campaign for capital punishment is the opening gun in his presidential bid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Chertoff and Civil Liberties

So, President Bush has chosen as Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, a judge of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is not his judgeship that defines him. It is that he ranked third in the Ashcroft Justice Department. In that position he showed a notable impatience with the Bill of Rights as he crafted the hardline reponse to 9/11. He was responsible for most features and provisions of the Patriot Act. Terrorism became the enemy, and all things were permitted to fight it.

With Gonzales at Justice and Chertoff at Homeland Security, the forces that support torture and want the Bill of Rights short-circuited will be in command in the Bush Administration. All in the name of counter-terrorism!

And don't relax. Chertoff, after a year or so in office, will be a perfect candidate for nomination to the US Supreme Court, after Gonzales becomes Chief Justice!
Rather: the Functional Equivalent of Being Fired

The report is out on the CBS News debacle over President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Some firings are the result, but they are limited. The president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward, and Dan Rather have survived. Many people think saving these two damages the integrity of CBS News even more than the original story did. (See http://www.ratherbiased.com and http://www.rathergate.com).

But read the comments of CBS Corporation chairman Leslie Moonves to get a different view:

In Mr. Moonves's official statement, he said, "Dan Rather has already apologized
for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He
voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the 'CBS Evening News' in
March of 2005." He added, "We believe any further action would not be
appropriate."


The statement is clear: Moonves thinks Rather has, in effect been fired too. Rather's agreement to a set date for retirement is the functional equivalent of being fired. He was allowed to save face. But the story that he will continue on as a reporter for 60 Minutes is a transparent fiction. When Rather leaves the CBS Evening News anchor chair in March, he will be gone for good. As gone as Walter Cronkite was when he stepped down.

"Retirement" is often a refined synonym for "fired."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sudan: Peace without Justice

There is rejoicing around the world over the signing of the Naivasha Protocols in Narobi that are intended to bring to an end twenty years of war in southern Sudan.

But don't rejoice too soon. The agreement, even if it were to work as written, will lead to peace in Sudan, but not justice. There are no provisions for bringing the perpetrators of the genocide to justice:


There is, however, an important flaw in the deal. Under the terms
of the Naivasha agreement, senior members of the Sudanese government responsible for heinous policies and abuses in southern Sudan get off scot-free.
There are no provisions for any kind of justice mechanism in the north-south peace accord-no truth commission or compensation for the many victims.

Genocide is the ugliest crime in the world, one that all nations should unite in prosecuting and expunging. In ignoring the crime of genocide, this agreement shocks the conscience of the world. It also assures that the settlement will not work bbecause, in the long run, the victims of the genocide cannot accept the agreement.


Sudan: Peace without Justice

There is rejoicing around the world over the signing of the Naivasha Protocols in Narobi that are intended to bring to an end twenty years of war in southern Sudan.

But don't rejoice too soon. The agreement, even if it were to work as written, will lead to peace in Sudan, but not justice. There are no provisions for bringing the perpetrators of the genocide to justice:


There is, however, an important flaw in the deal. Under the terms
of the Naivasha agreement, senior members of the Sudanese government responsible for heinous policies and abuses in southern Sudan get off scot-free.
There are no provisions for any kind of justice mechanism in the north-south peace accord-no truth commission or compensation for the many victims.

Genocide is the ugliest crime in the world, one that all nations should unite in prosecuting and expunging. In ignoring the crime of genocide, this agreement shocks the conscience of the world. It also assures that the settlement will not work because, in the long run, the victims of the genocide cannot accept the agreement.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Outsourcing Torture

It's called "rendition." And it is practiced by the US government.

It is, of course, a word worthy of Orwell's lexicon, a word meant to conceal rather than communicate. It is a slick substitute for "outsourcing torture."

Government agencies - including the CIA - are allowed to send detainees to other countires for interrogation. The countries selected have no bothersome rules like the Bill of Rights to restrain their enthusiasm for vigorous interrogation. These contries routinely torture victims in order to extract information or force confessions. These countries do the dirty work that US law would prevent the US from doing at home. They include Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and others.

This issue may now hit the US courts. An Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was picked up by the US in Pakistanand then sent to Egypt by the US for interrogation on the grounds that he was born in Egypt. He alleges that while there he was systematically and brutally tortured by being hung by his arms from hooks, beaten, nearly drowned, and subjected to electric shock. He is now in Guantanamo, the US gulag in Cuba, and is being threatened with return to Egypt for more inerrogation. He is asking the courts to prevent his return to Egypt.

Outsourcing torture is not quite what the proponents of globalization had in mind when they extolled the advantages of outsourcing. But in the name of fighting terrorism, all things are permitted. A nice way to assert that the US does not torture prisoners. Orwell would be so proud!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

NO to Gonzales

The US Senate Judiciary Committe wil soon hold hearings on the appointment of Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General. The committe should say NO to this appointment.

Gonzales was the White House counsel who penned a memo supporting torture for those accused of terrorism. His justification for that memo reads like a a farce:

He says that after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government had "fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to a country, is not a party to any treaties, and -- most importantly -- does not fight according to the laws of war."

All his promises now that he will do differently in the future are fraudulent. When the issue came down, he supported torture. That any official of the US government would do so is a disgrace. We know where he stands, and that is in opposition to US values. He stands with the necon subversion of US democracy.

He should be soundly rejected by the Senate!

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