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By Dave Lindorff
What is all this nonsense about us electing a “commander in chief”?
Okay, I mean we all know it’s President Bush’s favorite title. He thrills to being a “war president,” and loves strutting around in front of guys in uniform and getting saluted. But really, what is this all about?
The Constitution says that the President is the commander in chief of the army and the navy, and of the militia if it is called to national service. But that is really just for the sake of having a civilian at the top of the food chain.
In an unscheduled rally appearance at the University of California-Los Angeles' (UCLA) Pauley Pavillion, California's First Lady, Maria Shirver, surrounded by her cousin Caroline Kennedy, best friend Oprah Winfrey, and co-political spouse, Michelle Obama, publicly announced her endorsement of Barack Obama for President of the United States. With today's endorsement, Shriver now joins a long list of her Kennedy relatives who are endorsing Barack Obama.
Ralph DiGia, World War II conscientious objector, lifelong pacifist and social justice activist, and staffer for 52 years at the War Resisters League (WRL), died February 1 in New York City. He was 93.
DiGia was "without pretensions, one who wore his radicalism in his life, not on his sleeve," said his long-time WRL colleague David McReynolds.
In addition to his decades at WRL, DiGia's activism took him through countless arrests and a stretch in federal prison, thousands of meetings and hundreds of demonstrations, hunger strikes, a bicycle ride across Europe, relief work in Bosnia, and not a few New York Mets baseball games.
80 Years of Activism
Born in the Bronx to a family of Italian immigrants in 1914, DiGia grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side. A 1927 rally for Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
By Dave Lindorff
With the presidential race now effectively pared down to four candidates, thanks to the departure of John Edwards and the imminent departure of Rudy Giuliani, we’re left with a really “B-grade” contest: a bomber (John McCain), a bummer (Hillary Clinton), a betrayer (Mitt Romney) and Obama (that’s Barack with a B).
McCain, the bomber, wants to “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” ensuring not just mayhem in Persia, but chaos, bloodshed and disaster across the Middle East and surely retaliation here at home for a generation to come. Here’s a guy who made his name by getting himself shot down while committing war crimes against the people of a backward nation in Southeast Asia, who glommed onto Sen. Russ Feingold’s clean government initiative after carting off wheelbarrows of cash from Charles Keating in the savings and loan scandal (McCain was one of the infamous Keating Five), and who claimed to be a renegade Republican and “straight talker” until he decided in 2004 to cling tightly to President Bush and become the mad Texan’s biggest apologist during his second benighted term. And, after months of pandering to the Christian right and the neocon loonies, he now wants us to believe he’s a maverick and “middle-of-the-roader.”
In the two years following the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush and his right-hands—Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—made at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Judge Wants Answers on CIA Videotapes | ABCNews.com
Judge Orders Bush Administration to Explain Evidence Handling in CIA Videotapes Case
A federal judge said Thursday that CIA interrogation videotapes may have been relevant to his court case, and he gave the Bush administration three weeks to explain why they were destroyed in 2005 and say whether other evidence was destroyed.
By Dave Lindorff
The first government response to America's sinking economy was denial. We were told as recently as a month ago by administration officials and Wall Street charlatans that the economy was robust and that there would not be a recession. Now we are told that the economy is in trouble, but that the government is taking decisive action to shore it up.
We saw how effective the first "decisive" proposal was. Bush announced a plan to give every adult taxpayer (no poor people, thank you) $800 in a tax rebate this April. The stock market responded to this idea by dropping a few percent. The idea, as I wrote in my last column, was stupid to begin with because, with the US no longer producing much of anything, all that bonus borrowed cash would end up getting spent on imported goods anyhow, doing next to nothing for the US economy.
The Doo Dah Parade
Three weeks ago, on January 1, 2008, the White Rose Coalition (WRC), a diverse consortium of pro-peace/pro-impeachment patriots, challenged the simplistic Happy New Year message of the 119th Pasadena Rose Parade by penetrating the festivities and infusing it with critical issues of war, war criminals, and Constitutional accountability. Three to four hundred patriots brazenly appeared on the scene to infiltrate one of Southern California's most conservative communities for one of America's most conservative events. The WRC wore Revolutionary era clothing, displayed signs reading "Impeach Bush & Cheney," and held as prisoners bobbleheaded semblances of war criminals George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, dressed in prison stripes with requisite balls and chains.
To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 21st, instead of going shopping, we'll be at the Bethesda headquarters of war profiteer Lockheed Martin, and we invite you to join us, the peacemakers of PeaceAction Montgomery.
A couple of days ago, the Washington Post reported that Lockheed's shares rose more than 14 percent in 2007. The defense budget for fiscal 2008, which began Oct. 1, is $471.2 billion, or 12 percent more than 2007 -- excluding the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Post story stated that the new spending planned for next year by the Bush Administration may boost the value of Lockheed shares by 12 percent. Dealing in death appears quite profitable for Lockheed, but what is it doing to our country and the world?
By Dave Lindorff
When you hear a number like $100 billion (the amount Bush is proposing to give back to people in the form of tax rebates, at about $800 per adult family member) or $145 billion (that $100 billion, plus another $45 billion in business tax breaks—mostly accelerated deductions for capital investment) bounced around, it sounds like a lot of dough, and you might think it would be a good shot in the arm for an economy that is falling into a dead faint.
On Tuesday, January 15th, four free speech/fair election patriots visited the set of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (and guest, Bill Maher, who was coincidentally appearing), to voice their displeasure over NBC, MSNBC and parent company General Electric's refusal to allow Congressman Dennis Kucinich to debate his fellow Democrats in MSNBC's televised Presidential debate to be held that evening. The four First Amendment advocates, Carol Barbieri, Jennifer Epps, Eva James and Mark Lipman, "interrupted" the Tonight Show airing, exercised their Constitutional rights, and used the people's airwaves to inform conglomerate G.E. of its failure to appropriately inform American voters of the views and policies of ALL candidates vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party.
Since their brazen challenge to G.E., NBC and MSNBC via their Tonight Show "presence," there has been wide media speculation as to who the "visitors" were and why they had made so vocal - and perhaps disruptive an "appearance." The following is their OPEN LETTER in their own words to Jay Leno, Bill Maher, MSNBC, conglomerate General Electric, and the American public to provide an in-depth and informative explanation. (Please view the youtube link of their Tonight Show "appearance": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDWsxgVOSk8)
I know these patriots personally and respect their love of nation and their fearlessness. I've been provided this letter and substantiating data to publish on their behalf. I'm delighted to do so:
By Dave Lindorff
Well, now we know. Scientists have documented that the Bush/Cheney administration has been a greater threat to Americans’ health and safety than Osama Bin Laden and his terror band.
Specifically, The New York Times, in its science section today, reports that a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has found that while the risk to Americans of dying at the hands of a terrorist was roughly equal to the chance of “drowning in a toilet,” the risk of cardiovascular disease among people who are frightened about the threat of terrorism is 300-500% higher than for people who are not worried.
Post Prelude: I've bolded a few paragraphs that I found particularly ironic, and frankly, Orwellian doublespeak given the current state of the federal assault on American citizens' civil liberties. I
scratched out a few thoughts of my own, too. Now, on to the article...
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- President Bush said Sunday that Iran is threatening the security of the world, and that the United States and Arab allies must join together to confront the danger "before it's too late."
Have we seen this movie before?
Bush said Iran funds terrorist extremists, undermines peace in Lebanon, sends arms to the Taliban, seeks to intimidate its neighbors with alarming rhetoric, defies the United Nations and destabilizes the entire region by refusing to be open about its nuclear program.
"Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terror," Bush said in a speech he delivered about midway through his eight-day Mideast trip that began with a renewed push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace pact -- an accord he said whose "time has come."
Bush also chided U.S. allies who have withheld civil liberties, saying governments will never build trust by harassing or imprisoning candidates and protesters. But his rebuke was general, and he did not single out any U.S. partner in the region for oppressive practices.
"You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government,"
Really? No kidding? Bush said. "And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms." Which "modern, confident nation" are you referring to, Mr. Bush?
Sunday morning John Kerry appeared on ABC's 'THIS WEEK" with George Stephanopoulos, where he trumpeted Barack Obama as the man who should be president. Kerry posited that Obama would be a transformational president who wouldn't fall prey to swiftboaters. Kerry promised to FIGHT to ensure that NO Democratic candidate is swiftboated in 2008. He swore that during his own candidacy in 2004, he fought back quickly and adequately against his swiftboat accusers with a "counter press conference" immediately after the assaults began. Kerry maintained that his defense was consistently strong, but not carried by media due to a lack of funds.
This is NOT true!!! John Kerry didn't fight back during his campaign. Nor did he challenge the highly questionable results of the election!!
John Kerry is the arbiter of bad judgement and the bastion of backing down. He's deluded himself into believing that Americans have forgotten his disastrous candidacy and forgiven him for it. This may be the case for some - but for those who value peace, social justice, and the moral standing of America, the mere mention of John Kerry is cause to recoil. Even the most cursory observation of America's decline since 2005 should rekindle disgust toward John Kerry. Any presumption that his endorsement of Barack Obama is an asset to Obama's campaign is ludicrous. Weakness can't cultivate strength. Kerry's endorsement is il bocio della morte -- the proverbial kiss of death. Kerry, himself, is persona non grata and should stay away from this election.
How do you not notice when 308,000 barrels of oil go missing?
That's the question government auditors were asking after they looked into the Department of Energy's management of oil received for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a critical program to assure energy stability in the U.S. in case of an oil crisis.
This week, the Sunday Times lifted the lid on one of the most important stories of the last quarter-century: how American officials sold nuclear arms technology to illegal proliferators -- including ideological allies of al Qaeda -- in return for bribes and other inducements. This widespread corruption has been protected from exposure by the highest levels of the U.S. government, which has gone to enormous lengths to protect the truth from coming out. The entire planet has been put at grave risk by the greed -- and geopolitical gamesmanship -- that lies behind this criminal enterprise, which actually is even more extensive, and goes back further in time, than the newspaper's remarkable revelations.
Private-security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, which protects U.S. government officials in Iraq and faces scrutiny over its role in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians, has ramped up its lobbying representation on Capitol Hill.
Law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice was tapped by the company, whose chairman is Erik Prince, a Holland native. They've been hired to lobby the government on contracting and other issues, according to the form posted online Tuesday by the Senate's public records office.
The L.A. National Impeachment Center's Peter Thottam and other local citizens passionately denounced Rep. Waxman's excuses for not impeaching the Bush Administration. During the question and answer period, Rep. Waxman is bombarded with question after question concerning impeachment. He attended a town hall meeting at the Westside Pavilion Landmark Theater building in Santa Monica, CA, where he spoke to over one hundred attendees, then answered questions.
By Dave Lindorff
The news from the "Live Free or Die" state was bad. It was bad for peace and the anti-war movement (such as it is), and it was bad for progressives and progressive issues in general.
The two candidates who won, John McCain on the Republican side, and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, are both fervent supporters of the Iraq War and of American militarism. Clinton talks of permanent US bases in Iraq. McCain says the US will be in Iraq for a century. What could the voters in New Hampshire be thinking?
Former US senator and presidential contender in 1972, George McGovern, criticized the Bush administration for driving the United States to war with the entire Arab and Muslim world --more than a billion people.
Spread the word!!!
Dana Center at St Anselm's
Rally at 8 pm tonight to protest ABC excluding Dennis Kucinich from the Democratic Presidential Debate.
Dennis will speak at the rally!
Shut down ABC's NH affiliate WMUR's phones...for 24hrs!
If you are angry about decision to bar Kucinich from this Saturday's debate in New Hampshire... then call or fax any or all of the numbers listed by the station for 'feedback':
WMUR-TV Broadcast Center
100 South Commercial Street
Manchester, NH 03101
FAX: (603) 641-9005
WMUR-TV Lakes Region Bureau
Inn at Bay Point
Meredith, NH 03253
WMUR-TV Portsmouth Bureau
One Harbour Place
Portsmouth, NH 03801
The instant it was reported that John Edwards placed second in the Iowa caucus, I ran to my purse, grabbed my wallet, pulled out my credit card, and donated to the Edwards campaign. Not for the first time. And likely for not the last. I don't have much money to give, but with this nation in peril, it's necessary. There's too much to lose if I don't ante up. America NEEDS John Edwards!!
After my little donation, this is the message I got:
Rep. Robert Wexler writes:
..... I wrote how your support for our efforts to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney has helped us get some attention from the mainstream media. My editorial was recently published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and newspapers from coast to coast have covered our success. 175,000 supporters have now signed up at WexlerWantsHearings.com and the number continues to build.
The real message of the Iowa caucus yesterday was that the long-operative Clintonian/Democratic Leadership Council assumption that the independent or unaffiliated voter bloc is composed of conservative-leaning, dim-witted and easily manipulated people has got it all wrong.
In fact, in Iowa, where unaffiliated voters are free to participate in either a Democratic or Republican caucus, 41 percent of those people voted not for the conservative, tough-talking “centrist” Hillary Clinton. They voted instead for the black, nominally anti-war candidate, Barack Obama. Another significant percentage of independents went for another progressive-sounding candidate, John Edwards. Clinton only got an embarrassing 17 percent of the unaffiliated vote.
2003 letter told CIA: Trashing tapes would harm image
Rep. Harman discloses her warning against disposing of interrogation videos.
By Greg Miller and Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON -- More than two years before the CIA destroyed interrogation videotapes, top officials were urged to preserve them by a senior lawmaker who warned that disposing of the recordings would "reflect badly on the agency."
The warning came in a February 2003 letter from Rep. Jane Harman of Venice, then the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The letter was released publicly by Harman's office on Thursday, after its contents were declassified by the CIA, and one day after the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes.
The existence of Harman's letter had been reported; but its precise contents, previously unrevealed, provide details on then-classified discussions between the CIA and senior members of Congress about the tapes and the agency's desire to get rid of them.
Harman wrote the letter after learning in a classified briefing that the CIA planned to destroy the tapes. She urged the agency to reconsider. "Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future," she wrote.
Lawmaker Urged CIA in 2003 Letter to Preserve Torture Tape; CIA Passed Buck to White House on Torture Policy & Legal Issues
Lawmaker Had Urged CIA in February 2003 Letter to Preserve Tape; Calls for Investigation to “follow the facts wherever they lead.” January 3, 2008
Washington, D.C. Representative Jane Harman (D-Venice), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, today released a copy of a letter she sent on 10 February 2003 to then CIA General Counsel Scott Muller, urging the Agency to reconsider its plan to destroy videotape of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah – a high-ranking al Qaeda operative and close associate of Osama bin Laden. The text of her letter and the CIA response follow below.