Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rush Limbaugh, Michael J. Fox, and Parkinson's

So Rush Limbaugh declared on the air the other day that Michael J. Fox exaggerated his Parkinson's tremors in some campaign ads he did for Democratic senatorial candidates. Now, I don't give a shit about Limbaugh or any other rightwing babblers who are at best morons and at worst poltroons and hypocrites, and I am as staunch a free speech advocate as they come. I also have Parkinson's tremors that make reading and sometimes even typing difficult and I'll be glad to pass them off for a day to any blathering idiot who thinks they are exaggerated or fake. It is long past time to call all hypocrites to account.

And while I'm at it, I have a simple plan for Iraq. Send Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice, Wolfie to the Green zone and withdraw all troops. Let them cut whatever deal they can. Let them clean up their own mess. If they survive, we'll ship them to the Hague to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And Justice for None

There's a report in today's L.A. Times and from the Associated Press that military defense teams are being threatened with reprisals if they continue to report on abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo. The chief defense counsel for the Marine team, Colonel Carol Joyce, ordered Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey and Sergeant Heather Cerveny to stop talking to the press and public about the routine beating of prisoners, ostensibly to ensure the two lawyers abide by "professional standards for military attorneys." Would they be the ones that say good soldiers--lawyers included--are to ignore evidence of torture or, better, join in the action? Oops, wrong word: the beatings aren't torture, or cruel or humiliating treatment. They are appropriately calibrated taps intended to move the bulkish, rebellious evil-doers along.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Is Lost, take 2

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions forbids torture, degrading and humiliating treatment of prisoners. It also mandates that proper judicial procedures be followed in trying and sentencing prisoners.

Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 7 of the same: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Article 9 of the same: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10 of the same: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

There are also articles forbidding arbitrary arrest and mandating fair trials and to prompt hearings so that a court may decide without delay the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is illegal.

Finally, for now, there is the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

Part I
Article 1
  1. For the purposes of this Convention, the 'term' torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful actions.

Article 3
  1. No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
It is the obligation of the State to punish torturers—a group that includes those who order torture. There is no disagreement over what constitutes torture. The Bushies have declared themselves torturers and practice that vile "art" in defiance of all human decency and international treaty. Along the way they have violated other fundamental human rights and tried to immunize themselves against prosecution. They must be brought to justice before the U.S. can rejoin the world community from the ranks of rogue states the Bushies have had it join.


It used to was that newspaper stories were counted among the raw stuff of history, the on-the-spot accounts one used, albeit with caution, as primary sources. They were contemporaneous with events, after all, and journalists putatively strove to speak the truth. With Watergate and Vietnam investigative reporting in what's now called the mainstream media entered its golden age--a short period that came to a close by 1988 with the Miami Herald's stakeout of Gary Hart and subsequent photos of him with Donna Rice on the Monkey Business. But when it comes to the 'war on terror,' including the deadly fiasco in Iraq, time after time the exposes have largely come in books, not infrequently by reporters--Bob Woodward in State of Denial, Thomas E. Ricks in Fiasco, and Ron Suskind in The One Percent Doctrine, among others. I would hope that they are not deliberately withholding information. I think they are not; rather, I think the material is being kept out of the mainstream media for a host of reasons inherent in contemporary American political journalism, particularly the tendency to view every issue in dualistic terms--Republican-Democratic; conservative-liberal; Bush as president-opposition to Bush; support current Iraq policy or favor cutting and running. Putatively, both sides are given equal measure; in practice, the Bushy himself and his minions usually define the terms of debate. The rest is catch-up because the mainstream media, afraid of being accused of bias, prints the propaganda and lies of the Bushies, often without even attempting to set the record straight. Thus does a profession ostensibly devoted to Truth become party to deception.

The phenomenon is clearly on display at Bush press conferences, such as the one on Wednesday, October 11, where he repeatedly asserted that Kim Jong Il's detonation of an atomic device was due to the Clinton Administration's failed diplomacy, as if Bush has not been in power the last nearly six years, the same Bush who, according to Woodward, asked the Saudi Prince Bander--on the eve of the 2000 campaign--why he should care about North Korea. Or there was Bushy declaring that the terriors must be defeated on the battlefield--and not through police work, then without missing a beat, claiming that U.S. investigators were front and center with their British counterparts in breaking up the plot to blow up transAtlantic flights, when, according to reports, the U.S. jumped the gun for political reasons. Police work cracked that "case," if case it was. Or there was Bushy condemning the Senators who voted to deny him the authority--legal cover--to torture and voted to preserve habeas corpus. Bushy claims the dissenters refused to give the CIA interogators the tools they need to protect the "homeland." I won't even talk about his rejection of a new study estimating 600,000-plus Iraqi's dead because of his delusiions

Just as it was the responsibility of those Senators to filibuster the torture bill, so it is the responsibility of the media to pursue truth and accuracy by not blandly repeating lies. Book authors and the best bloggers have been successful in doing so precisely because they are not bound by allegiance to false objectivity. Bloggers operate from an identifiable perspective that, for the best, becomes transparent in a way that enhances their veracity. That's finally why many of the corporate powers who rule the mainstream media fear bloggers--not all of whom, I well recognize, rise above the level of self absorption. The problem with the lag time is that it allows Bushy and his crowd to stay a step or five ahead of being publicly called to account for their perfidy--and I say publicly because the Congress will never do it.

After watching Bushy's performance at his most recent press conference, for example, it seems to me fair and proper for journalists--and long past due--to investigate the man's sanity. Thanks to Suskind, we have known since the last election that Bushy doesn't occupy a "reality based world," and there have long been rumors--whispers, if you will--of continued drinking. If the Mark Foley case shows anything, it is that there is too much "wink, wink, nod, nod" over officials' 'private' behavior, too much pretending that it has no effect on their performance. Bunk. The issue of Bushy's competence is of a paramount importance, yet except when an hhistorian weighs in, it is largely ignored--ignored while people are tortured and are killed in the name of his delusions. Similarly, journalists must stop giving Bushy and his minions, especially his Dark Lords a free pass on their lies and misrepresentations. If reported, a correction should immediately follow in the text--and not as something "Democrats" said. Thee rules apply to everyone, oof course, not just the Bushies. Anyone who follows this route will initially be called biased--look at the opprobrium Keith Olbermann on MSNBC receives--or worse, but there is no other choice.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I'll keep this short since in the upcoming election I'll be voting for my congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, because she voted against the Bush torture bill. I will not vote for Bill Nelson, one of Florida's two feeble senators who voted for the legislation, nor clearly will I vote for Nelson's demented opponent.

Re the hypocritical deviant, Mark Foley, I can say that those of us with long memories were waiting for the Bobby Bauman Defense-no links, but I think you can use wikipedia if you don't know--and that I admire the "priest-made-me" defense--i am now following early anglo-saxon non-rules of grammar, which persisted until the 17th century--well eve beyond--blame it on Fowler and now the Chicago Manual of style. [those are parkinsonian double letters.] anyway Gina sd all in a blog

My first and final note is this: Why for five years have Democrats failed to challenge the Bushies on 9/11 and national security, to say, as all available evidence says, "Listen, you bushbuckers. 9/11 happened on your watch because you weren't paying attention. You fucked up"

But then I say, these are the same feebs who can't mount a filibuster against a bill that allows torture and guts the Geneva conventions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What they knew, take 2

Condoleezza Rice said she never met with George Tenet and Cofer Black on July 10, when they voiced their concerns to her about the looming threat of an al Qaeda attack in "weeks or months"--a meeting reported in Bob Wodward's new book, State of Denial. Members of the 9/11 commission said they were never told of such a meeting, as I mentioned in Sunday morning's blog. They've changed their tune now, saying, yes, the meeting occurred. Tenet told us about it, said he said the system was blinking red but didn't say Rice blew him off. Stories are everywhere, including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Reporting from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel, and John Walcott day that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft received the same briefing on July 17. They continue to report that Rice didn't brush aside Tenet and Black's warning, which, nonetheless didn't specify where or precisely when the expected attack would occur and thus no one knew what specific action to take. That bit of fine parsing can't disguise what can only be called a failure of leadership.

There is no guarantee that ordering increased security at major airports--since there were abundant indications that planes would be involved--redoubling efforts to find and kill bin Laden, and refocusing intelligence gathering and investigative agencies would have thwarted or disrupted the attacks of September 11, 2001. But we know the result of inaction.

The 9/11 commission missed the importance of the July 10 meeting because it chose to, is my guess, in order to produce a consensus report. It published a corking good narrative that nonetheless obscured the full depth of the Bushies' failure and thus helped to keep the man in power, doing great harm.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What they knew!

I thought I was having a visual illusion when I read this unbylined story from tomorrow's Washington Post--it's a brief excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, detailing an extraordinary meeting on July 1, 2001, between then CIA director, Gene Tenet, his chief deputy on counterterrorism, J. Cofer Black, and then national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Tenet and Black delivered, according to the article, an explicit warning that Osama bin Laden--al-Qaeda--was planning a major attack, quite possibly within the U.S. Immediate action was needed to thwart his plans, they reportedly told her.

But Rice seemed more interested in the missile defense system--which still works only rarely in rigged tests--and, like her boss, Bushy, had no interest in "swatting flies." The 9/11 commission's executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, who as a University of Virginia professor had once collaborated on a book with Rice, knew of the meeting, Woodward says, but apparently did nothing with that knowledge. Cryptically and suggestively, he adds that Rice hired Zelikow as a "top aide at the State Department" in 2005.

Writing in Think Progress, Peter Rundlet, former counsel for the 9/11 commission says it was never told of the meeting. Something smells foul.