Friday, October 26, 2007

Condi and Hillary - Separated at birth?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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The more I hear Hillary on the stump trying to explain why she won't commit to pulling the troops out by 2013, the more she sounds like Condoleeza Rice. Now we are dumping gas on the fire by banging war drums for Iran and again Hillary is lining right up with Bush on the issue - seemingly trumpeting whatever talking points Condi gave her.

It is a damn chorus of destruction.

To make matters worse, the Hymn to Pakistan was taken out of the songbook. Pakistan is the country to REALLY worry about. They ARE an Islamofascist country WITH WORKING nuclear weapons. Why aren't we worried about Pakistan? Well it seems because Rumsfeld says so.

From The Guardian:

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz headed the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which concluded in July 1998 that the chief threat - far greater than the CIA and other intelligence agencies had so far reported - was posed by Iran, Iraq and North Korea: the future Axis of Evil powers. Pakistan was not on the list, even though just two months earlier it had put an end to the dissembling by detonating five nuclear blasts in the deserts of Balochistan.

It was also difficult not to conclude that Islamist terrorism was escalating and that its epicentre was Pakistan. The camps that had once been used to train the US-backed mujahideen had, since the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, morphed into training facilities for fighters pitted against the west. Many were filled by jihadis and were funded with cash from the Pakistan military.

It was made clear to the new president, Bill Clinton, that US policy on Pakistan had failed. The US had provided Islamabad with a nuclear bomb and had no leverage to stop the country's leaders from using it. When he was contacted by lawyers for Barlow, Clinton was shocked both by the treatment Barlow had received, and the implications for US policy on Pakistan. He signed off $1m in compensation. But Barlow never received it as the deal had to be ratified by Congress and, falling foul of procedural hurdles, it was kicked into the Court of Federal Claims to be reviewed as Clinton left office.

The entire article needs to be read from beginning to end. It should be a MUST READ for anyone wondering why we are at war with the Middle East.

And what is Hillary's position on Pakistan? They are a valuable ally in the war on terror.

Now would be a good time for Al Gore to start hogging a microphone.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hot Buttery GOP Action

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Honestly, it has been what seems like FOREVER since we have had another GOP sex scandal. I have mentioned my expectations before about randomly switching on CSPAN and seeing Representative Howard Coble, in the Well of the US House blowing a horse - but what else might be possible?

When will one of the Chris Hansen's Dateline pedophile stings snag a Congressman? Who will be the first Republican to be discovered as having a diaper fetish? OH GAWD, that is what Tivo was made for!

In the last two years, the GOP has run the gamut of sex scandals. Damn near every scenario has been exposed - dirty emails to pages, hookers, random booty calls in public restrooms. It all makes Clinton look boring.

Maybe that is why the GOP have a love/hate relationship with Giuliani? They identify with him because of the multiple marriages and mistress scandals - oh, and the celebratory cross-dressing. And that is maybe why they also hate him. The Religious Right sees too much of themselves in Rudy?

So here I sit, tapping my foot - waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The "Hitler Comparison"

The "Hitler comparison" should be shouted from the rooftops, as should the Goebbels comparison, the Himmler comparison, the Mengele, Stalin, Torquemada, Beelzebub comparisons and all the rest. If it struts like a Nazi, talks like Nazi, tortures like a Nazi and wages aggressive and illegal war like a Nazi... it's not a duck.

Eighteen months or so ago I wrote a post comparing Bush, Cheney and the boys from PNAC to Hitler, to the Nazi hierarchy and to the wonderful folks who gave the world kristallnacht, the terror bombings of Guernica, of London and conducted history's magnum opus of human carnage, the holocaust, the destruction of two thirds of the Jews in Europe and millions of other "undesirables."

I took a moderate amount of heat for what one local (Dayton) commenter called my "classlessness," and received a few surly EMails from people who are probably, to this day, driving around with "Bush/Cheney" bumper stickers on their Cadillac and Lexus SUVs but since I want so badly to be loved and admired, (or at least not ignored) I resolved to try to avoid using the "Hitler Comparison" after that.

I saw it used by others on the blogs and, guardedly, in the MSM, witnessed their reception of similar treatment and I realized that a taboo (see Godwin's law) had been created. "Disrespectful to the office of the President," some cried, "diminishes the horror of the holocaust and the brutality unleashed on Europe's Jews by the real Hitler," cried others, "the ultimate ad hominem attack," wrote one academic seeking to show that such comparisons were childish , demeaning to those who offered them and "kills dead," scholarly internet discussions.

As the months dragged on and the war escalated, the deaths, the casualties, the carnage mounted, the attacks on dissent increased, civil liberties began to erode and disappear, as the regulatory bureaucracy and the judiciary were stripped of independent professionals and replaced with ideological partisans, as tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayers cash simply disappeared into the black hole of "privatization" and reason itself came under constant attack, I couldn't help myself, I began to use the "Hitler Comparison" more often in my various rants.

I don't pretend to scholarship, or journalism, I'm an old carpenter, not an academic, I'm content to be a pamphleteer. As long as the feedback tells me that people are reading my electronic leaflets, not ripping them from under their wiper blades and kicking them to the curb, if I sense that they are following the links, I find a small measure of hope, not a lot, just enough to make me look forward to coffee and another batch of leafleting in the morning.

The war..s continue, and as the fervor grows for another, in Iran and more evidence of official "misdeeds," of lies, of outright criminality, of incompetence, rampant cronyism and fraud continue to seep out from under the closed doors of what has developed into the most secretive, insular, antidemocratic administration in the history of the Republic, the "Hitler comparison" has grown in my mind and, I believe, much of the public's to the point that we need to repeal the "Godwin law" and popularize the idea in the hopes that by holding up the mirror to the tyrant we may drive him from our shores. I'm serious, we need "Hitler Comparison" T shirts, by the millions.

Sunday night I watched Naomi Wolf on PBS as she was interviewed about her recent book by "guest interviewer" Viet Dinh, a former Assistant Attorney General, and principle author of the Patriot Act, greatly admired by none other than Rupert Murdoch, in other words, as Adol George W is wont to say, no cream puff. Ms Wolf more than held her own, after all, she knows her book and the research on which its based and defended it well against a wholly predictable neo-con cross examination.

Her book may represent, albeit in a much more scholarly and reasoned way, the ultimate in "Comparisons," (I confess I haven't yet read it) She says that she charts the closing of various previously open societies, from Hitler to Stalin to Pinochet and on to our current rapidly closing system, and finds the comparisons striking, the trends frightening, ant the peril, imminent enough to cause her to run around the country like a latter day Paul Revere shouting that the redcoats brown shirts are coming, while making astute "comparisons" between current and past events, motives and personalities.

It is, of course, a book tour and yes, the object is to sell the book but there is much more here, I hear a clarion call in her voice and feel truth in her message.

Would that several million people, Germans perhaps, in 1933, 34 or 35 had been possessed of the poor taste and "classlessness," had been willing to succumb to the gaucherie of loudly and publicly comparing Adolph Hitler to... well ..what the hell, lets go for it.. Adolph Hitler, I wonder what result might have ensued. Or, back in the USSR, had Russians stood up and said "hey this Stalin guy is becoming a real Hitler or maybe even a Stalin," how many of the fifty million Russian dead might have been spared, the cold war, arms race avoided, at least greatly reduced.

There is a responsibility of those who govern to speak truth to the governed, but, when they fail in that responsibility, there is a greater responsibility on the part of the governed to speak truth to power, to spit in its eye and to dethrone it as necessary to insure the continuity of the rights, freedoms and welfare of the public, for that is what finally matters, not the government, nor the corrupt interests of the criminal oligarchs that it represents.

I listened to the GOP candidates a bit the other night, a little goes a long way with these birds, and heard the words "personal responsibility" several times, a phrase which is nothing more, on Republican lips, than a code word for racism, sexism and a continuation of the war they have waged against the "lesser classes' for all of modern history.

I agree with them in this sense, it is time for a large percentage of the population to take personal responsibility for themselves, for their country, to unite in the name of freedom, in the name of economic, political and spiritual liberty, to rise up and seize control of the whole package, the big damn shebang, to wrest control from the five percent who have kept them enslaved, who have enforced ignorance and poverty and to throw aside the twenty percent who guard the prison.

It may be "classless" and a violation of "Godwin's law to "Compare" George Walker Bush, the arrogant young scion of eastern establishment wealth and power, grandson of Senators and son of Presidents, cowboy of windshields and owner of chainsaws, to the beer swilling gutter scum of the beer halls of Munich and Berlin but I'm afraid it is unavoidable, it is inescapable, obvious, and it is historically necessary.

Terrorism? 9/11? The attack on the World Trade Center was their Reichstag fire, the invasion of Iraq, comparable to the blitzkrieg into eastern Europe. They share the same motives and ideology, the same vision, they exhibit the same compassion, and wield power with the same ruthless disregard for the lives, for the welfare and dignity of common humanity.

Make no mistake, these people, the architects of the last six years of international turmoil, of domestic division, of war and death, of crushing despair and hopelessness, are Nazis, perhaps not yet in the full bloom of adulthood, not yet grown to the evil proportions of their twentieth century predecessors, but they have emerged from their larval stage and are prepared for full flight, They have all the weapons, they lack nothing, nothing, but to complete their rewriting of our laws and of course, they need those handsome uniforms.

The only thing that can prevent them from fulfilling their wretched and terrible goals of oligarchy, universal slavery and domination of the world is your voice, your derision, your hand, raised in resistance, your lips mouthing a simple no.

Hurry, I think the uniforms have been ordered.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Al Gore’s Real Risk

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Dear Al Gore,

Americans want you to run and we can be sooo annoying at times, I know. But I doubt any of us will shut up anytime soon - you know how we can be.

The Blue States are yours already, the Purple States are yours too because they look back at what could have been if things had gone differently in 00, that and they feel bad - they feel you need your chance to pull us out of the Hell-hole we are currently in. The Red States (what there is left of them) are a toss up. Nothing you can do about the blind political rage they have.

I know another run for the Presidency may not seem like a fun thing to do right now and in a strange sort of way WINNING the election will totally suck. It will be on your shoulders to fix the multi-layer putrid mess we are in. You know what to do, global warming-wise, but it will also be up to you to fix our debacle in Iraq and what ever mess Bush starts in Iran. Oh and there is that open sore called Afghanistan we should put some compute cycles into.

And did you know the economy is a wreck? Remember that high-falutin' job I had under Clinton / Gore? It went extinct in 2001. The dollar also is lower than a Dick Cheney Dirty Trick™.

So I know you would rather not get sucked into the slime pit known as politics, but we need you.

Few men in American history have been called by a nation for the singular purpose of becoming President. Our founding fathers loved to hide out on their farms and wait for the worst of the hand-wringing to pass when it was their turn to sit and helm the nation that is America. Well, they didn't live in a world that included the Internet, blogs and mass email campaigns. So no matter how far out in the woods your farm may be, I am sure the Internet is available.

Few have been called and you should be warned we will keep dialing.

P.S. If you get a chance, please take my Blog Reader Survey. Thanks!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Naomi Wolf: Blueprint for Tyranny

Zedaker says this is a must see, and I agree. In this lecture Wolf lays out the central argument of her new book, The End of America. She explores the blueprint, the ten steps taken by would-be despots to close down open societies, and shows how these techniques -- employed and perfected by Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin -- are being employed in this country right now.

There is a growing awareness, in this country, that we are slip-sliding into tyranny. It is less and less considered a thoroughly outré notion, that there are parallels between what is happening here and what happened in Nazi Germany, as discussed here and here. As Wolf described in her blog on The Huffington Post, people are aware and they are frightened.

I wish people would stop breaking into tears when they talk to me these days.

I am traveling across the country at the moment -- Colorado to California -- speaking to groups of Americans from all walks of life about the assault on liberty and the 10 steps now underway in America to a violently closed society.

The good news is that Americans are already awake: I thought there would be resistance to or disbelief at this message of gathering darkness -- but I am finding crowds of people who don't need me to tell them to worry; they are already scared, already alert to the danger and entirely prepared to hear what the big picture might look like. To my great relief, Americans are smart and brave and they are unflinching in their readiness to hear the worst and take action. And they love their country.

But I can't stand the stories I am hearing. I can't stand to open my email these days. And wherever I go, it seems, at least once a day, someone very strong starts to cry while they are speaking.

It was apparent to me, shortly after 9/11, that I was watching my country slide into a dystopian, positively Orwellian, nightmare. I quickly surmised that Bush was a Hitler wannabe. I was very lonely, but the awareness is dawning for many now. Bottom line, we have to stop thinking of what is happening in this country, in terms of our own history, because there really is no precedent; not the Nixon years, nor even McCarthyism. We need to look at what happened in Italy and Germany as their democratic governments were subverted by the tyranny of Mussolini and Hitler. It is an ugly reflection, but we had better start looking at it now before that looking glass is pressed to the tips of our noses.

Thompson, God and the Republic Party

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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During the Family Values Voters Summit in DC last week, Fred Thompson received the only standing ovation of the night - that includes all the GOP candidates. The thing that bugs me is he got the standing ovation for being unprepared and not having a moral foundation.

From ABC News...

I know the first hour, I would go into the Oval Office and close the door, and pray for the wisdom to know what was right...

I shouldn't be surprised that Fred Thompson, a 65 year old Republican man that claims a belief in Jesus, still doesn't know right from wrong. He has to pray to know what is right? He doesn't know? Not yet? Maybe if he studied the teachings of Jesus he wouldn't need to pray about it.

Thompson also said he didn't know what he would do for his first 100 days in office. What great news to rejoice over! Yet another Republican wanting to be President who doesn't have the slightest inkling about what to do once they get into office. The nation is in the most trouble it has been in since the Civil War and Thompson doesn't have a plan for his first hundred days? We certainly don't need another slacker in office. Most other candidates and even a few of from the GOP have their first 100 days mapped out. Kucinich for example will start the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, cancel NAFTA and withdraw from the WTO. That is his FIRST DAY. Much more productive than Thompson's waiting for his plan to be downloaded from a celestial golden throne.

The people who gave Thompson the standing ovation are probably the same dead-enders that are still supporting Bush. Leave it to the Republic Party
to support and encourage stupidity.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Interview With Iranian Expert and Journalist Barbara Slavin

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as The Peace Tree, the Independent Bloggers Alliance and Worldwide Sawdust.

Barbara Slavin, senior diplomatic correspondent for USA Today since 1996 and author of the recently published book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation (St. Martin’s Press), writes that,

“Iran and the United States are like a once happily married couple that has gone through a bitter divorce. Harsh words have been exchanged – husband and wife have come to blows and employed others to inflict more punishment. Apologizing is hard and changing behavior even harder. This relationship is unequal, with one side or the other feeling more vulnerable at any given time and afraid the other will take advantage of concessions.”
Currently, the public faces of both nations, presidents George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been content to throw rhetorical bombs and raise the diplomatic temperature – increasing the likelihood of war. Indeed, at times it appears that conservative hardliners in both countries are eager for conflict as a means to maintain their respective grips on power.

The journey from the CIA backed coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected leader Mossadeq in 1953 and replaced him with the Shah, to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and current tensions is replete with ill conceived schemes that damaged both nations. Slavin, using her extensive contacts among the powerful inside Iran and the United States, documents missed opportunities for reconciliation between both countries during the administrations of the first President Bush as well as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The combination of her remarkable access to people such as Madeline Albright, Condelezza Rice, Iranian reformers like former President Mohammad Khatami, longtime establishment figures such as Ali Rafsanjani, as well as dissidents like Akbar Ganji and everyday citizens, allows Slavin to shed sunlight on a nation most Americans know very little about. She is also the first newspaper reporter from the United States to interview Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Slavin has accompanied three secretaries of State on their official travels and reported from Iran, Libya, Israel, Egypt, North Korea, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Syria. She is also a regular commentator for U.S. foreign policy on National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting System's Washington Week In Review and C-Span. This month, she joined the U.S. Institute of Peace as a Jennings Randolph fellow, to continue her research on Iran. Slavin also serves as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prior to joining USA Today, Slavin was a Washington-based writer for The Economist and the Los Angeles Times, covering domestic and foreign policy issues, including the 1991-93 Middle East peace talks in Washington. From 1985-89, she was The Economist's correspondent in Cairo. During her career, Slavin has traveled widely in the Middle East, covering the Iran-Iraq war, the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya, the political evolution of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. Earlier in the 1980s, Slavin also served as The Economist's correspondent in Beijing and reported from Japan and South Korea.

Prior to moving abroad, she worked as a writer and editor for The New York Times Week in Review section and a reporter and editor for United Press International in New York City.

Slavin agreed to a podcast interview with me about her book, Iran and their turbulent relationship with the United States. Please refer to the media player below. Our conversation is just under thirty minutes. This interview can also be accessed via the Itunes Store by searching for “Intrepid Liberal Journal.”