Rumsfeld/Hussein Ads Begin Running Monday

Ads featuring Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein begin running this Monday June 2nd, to pose the question "Who are We Arming Now?" and challenge the Bush administration's marked increase in military aid to human rights abusing
governments. The ads conclude with, "America needs a new foreign policy."

View the ads at

You say, “homophobic discrimination” like it’s a bad thing

In the Republicans’ ongoing battle to abolish civil rights, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law what's being called the Defense of Marriage Act.

But doesn’t Texas already have a law prohibiting a same-sex couple from being married in Texas? Yes, but it didn’t prohibit a same-sex marriage performed outside of Texas from being recognized by Texas. In other words, if a same-sex couple is married in another state, Texas may be forced to recognize that union as a legitimate and legal marriage here as well.

This legislation takes the fact that Texas does not allow same sex marriages one step further. It says Texas does not recognize any gay or lesbian union or marriage from any other state.

In support of DOMA, members of the Constitution Party of Texas brandished signs in public that read “No Homo Marriage.” One of the group’s leaders told a newspaper that homosexuality should be illegal, and based upon Biblical beliefs, ultimately punishable by death.
Well, we know punishing homosexuals by death would be extremely hard in today’s society, but we hope that we can help to drive it underground so in about twenty or thirty years, the punishment can fit the crime.

"The point of the bill is to protect and defend the institution of marriage in the traditional sense we always have in the state of Texas, and that's between one man and one woman," said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, sponsor of Senate Bill 7.
"People talked about discrimination as though discrimination is a bad thing. It is something we do all the time," he said.


"I've never made any statement that this bill did not discriminate," said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who authored the bill. "This bill does discriminate. It allows only for a man and a woman to be married in this state and be recognized in marriage in this state," he said. "This bill does discriminate against any other kind of marriage."

So, what if gay couples living in Texas accept the implication that they simply can’t be married in Texas? Well, the state has taken care of that, too.

U.S. Supreme Court case: Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
The state argued that Texas law must stand in order to protect marriage, something that's especially important because Texas is a community property state. Less unsure, Sen. Santorum told the Associated Press exactly what all this means: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Concerned Women for America are worried that decriminalization of same-sex behavior will lead to equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. If it violates equal protection to prohibit same-sex sodomy, the next case will argue that it violates equal protection to prohibit same-sex marriage."

Although Texas is an at-will state - meaning either employer or employee may terminate employment with or without cause - employees are protected against termination for sex, race or national origin. One can, however, be terminated for being gay. Texas went out of its way to deny homosexuals equal protection from such discrimination.

In a related story
The Houston school district and Houston police are investigating a report in which a Westbury High School student said a teacher's aide assaulted him, eventually breaking his arm, because he is gay. Republicans defended the act as a moral defense of the institution of marriage.
Bush Tax Cut No Relief for Poor

President Bush led off his January 25 radio address with these words:

When I address Congress, I will urge them to pass my plan to strengthen our economy and help more Americans find jobs. The tax relief already planned for later in this decade should be made effective this year, including income tax reduction, marriage penalty relief, and an increase in the child tax credit. When Congress acts, I will direct the Treasury to return this money to taxpayers right away, which will provide immediate help to our economy.

It's no surprise that Senate Democrats passed an amendment to ensure that all families with children would benefit from the child tax cut increase, and it was cut by Republicans at the last minute. Families who earn between $10,500 and $26,625 per year won't see any benefit whatsoever from the credit increase. This leaves an estimated 11.9 million children, or one out every six children under the age of 17, out of luck. Oh well, maybe they'll learn to vote for Republicans next time!

Call to Action

Send a message to President Bush telling him that his tax cuts for the rich just left millions of children behind.
The Truth About Jayson Blair and Jessica Lynch

We now know that Jayson Blair lied about no less than 36 stories which he reported in the New York Times since last October. Geov Parrish argues that the financial pressures which allowed Blair to get away with storytelling for so long may very well get worse after June 2:

When Michael Powell's FCC opens the door for further corporate consolidation in media next week, by easing or lifting remaining restrictions on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, the result will inevitably be more opportunities for the Jayson Blairs of this world.

Ironically, one of the stories Blair fabricated, Parrish points out, involved "describing (from photographs) a trip to [Pvt. Jessica Lynch's] West Virginia home when he never left the city." Its ironic, because while Blair's story of getting caught is big news in the US corporate media, little or no attention is being given to a more profound story of lying and fabrication.
A BBC (not American) investigation this month revealed that the entire Jessica Lynch story, from beginning to end, was an elaborately planned hoax perpetrated by the Pentagon and the Bush Administration. The pinnacle was a Hollywood-worthy spectacle of Lynch's Special Forces "rescuers" charging into her Iraqi hospital, shooting blanks and shouting as though an enemy were returning fire. There was no enemy -- only Pentagon cameras, which captured and carefully edited the footage to create a heroic and entirely fictitious "rescue" story that dominated American newscasts and headlines for days. That bit of fiction makes anything Blair did look even more like child's play.

By contrast, the revelation that thousands of media reports regarding [Lynch's] entire Iraqi experience were utter fantasy is only the latest instance in an endless string of uncovered Bush Administration lies or hoaxes -- faithfully and unquestioningly parroted by newsrooms from coast to coast which made little attempt to provide context, let alone accuracy.

The "Saving Private Jessica" story is straight out of Hollywood - Jerry Bruckheimer, to be precise. It was Bruckheimer's advice to the Pentagon which helped them formulate their strategy to "to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves." Dr Anmar Uday, who works at the hospital where Lynch was being treated and who witnessed the "rescue," said:
"There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital."

As can be expected, the Pentagon rejects the claim that they stage-managed the rescue, and Lynch has no recollection of what took place "and probably never will." A Pentagon official said:
"The Pentagon never released an account of what happened to Lynch because it didn't have an account. She never told us."
Health Care in America
Bush Vs. Dean

Two years into President Bush's term, the damage he has done to the nation and the world is incalculable. On issue after issue, Bush does what's good for big corporations and right-wing extremists at the expense of the public. The Wage Slave Journal offers this scorecard to help you keep track of all of the evil deeds Bush commits and, more important, to provide a record for your perusal when November 2004 rolls around. Be sure to bookmark this page; Bush keeps it full.

The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights keeps an even more extensive list on issues.

Where we are on health care- Nationally, 30.1 percent or 74,706,000 under the age of 65 have no health insurance. The highest percentage was reported in Texas, with 39.9 percent, while South Dakota had the lowest, at 21.7.

As Congress debates whether additional funding should be given to states to help pay for their cash-strapped Medicaid programs, a report issued today reveals that the Bush Administration's alternative to such funding would cause millions of seniors, children, and people with disabilities to lose health coverage. According to the report, the Bush Administration's alternative proposal-which would convert Medicaid to a block grant-would result in an almost half a trillion dollar loss of public health funds over the next 10 years.

Bush's shortcomings on health care come as no surprise to Texans. As governor, he directed that a $6.5 billion budget surplus be used primarily for property tax relief and public school improvements...rather than tackle Texas' poor health record. In a state with one of the nation's worst public-health records, Bush might have used the surplus to deal with stubborn problems:
* Of the 50 states, Texas had the second-highest percentage of adults and children who lacked health insurance. Only Arizona's percentage was higher, according to 1998 figures by the Kaiser Foundation.
* More than 27 percent of adults ages 19 to 65 lacked health insurance compared with about 20 percent nationwide.

When the Texas House was under a Democratic majority, what it shoved down Bush's throat was health insurance eligibility for a then-estimated 500,000, rather than 300,000, children. It was a big loss for Bush, who spent much of the early session fighting for the lower number...Bush did sign the bill. And he can claim to have supported it. But he drew the eligibility line at 150% of the federal poverty level -- which excluded some 200,000 children of working-poor families from buying low-cost health insurance -- an eligibility level that few states even considered. Yet the governor of the state with the second highest number of uninsured children in the nation was taking a hard line on 1.4 million kids who are often shut out of doctors' offices.

The bottom line seems to be that Bush worked pretty hard to cover as few kids as possible under the CHIPs program. To say that he "embraced [the program] as an opportunity to help deliver health coverage to thousands of uninsured children" isn't just a stretch. It’s lie # 6.

Howard Dean's focus on Health Care

Governor Howard Dean's plan to extend health insurance to all Americans is based on the lessons he learned as a practicing physician and as a governor.  As Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean had an unsurpassed record of success in broadening health insurance coverage, achieving the highest rate of coverage for any state of both children and low-income people.  The Dean plan offers health insurance to all uninsured Americans, at well under half the cost of President Bush's tax cuts. 
In fact if you subscribe to Howard Dean TV (yes, ALL DEAN, ALL THE TIME), the first five segments to download all deal with Dean's plan for health care.
The USA-Saudi Connection

Now you are just beginning to see the light of truth emerge as we observe what is going on now in Saudi Arabia... It becomes much easier as time goes on to see the connection between the bombings (twice) of the World Trade Center - you might call it the Saudi Arabia-USA Trade Center reflecting more accurately the buildings' beginnings. Few have noted that the World Trade Center buildings were designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect who designed most of the government buildings of that era in Saudi Arabia. The buildings' Islamic arches at the lobby and parapet attest to the tribute to both Allah and Capitalism.

The war al Qaeda started is not aimed primarily at the USA; although we are certainly being used, it is aimed at the Saudi Royal Family, whose oppressive and duplicitous policies are now returning home in the form of ultra-fanatic Wahabiist Terrorism and anti-American rhetoric from all but the highest places of authority. Those same authorities who all along have been hypocritically funding the Ultra-Wahabiists on one hand while buying arms and technology from the USA; kowtowing to USA big-oil interests whose technology is vital to the future flow of cheap oil from the region.

The propaganda and public relations disinformation campaign waged by the Bush Administration and the Saudi Government since 9/11/01 has been successful to the extent that it has obscured the nature of the situation in Saudi Arabia and veiled the Bush Administration's truest intent: to safeguard our long-term interest in Iraqi Oil Reserves and gain a larger military presence in the Persian Gulf.

Objectivity and the case of Henry Norr

Its been two months since Henry Norr was fired by the San Francisco Chronicle. He says it was because he took a day off to attend an anti-war protest. His former employer initially said it was because Norr improperly used vacation time. Executive Editor Phil Bronstein, and husband of Sharon Stone, now claims that the dismissal stemmed from a desire to maintain objectivity at the paper. He dismissed protestors at an appearance at Stanford University last Friday.

"They're demonstrating the firing of Henry Norr, the Spanish-American War and the fact that we wrap our papers in plastic."

And he skirted and dismissed this question asked by a local independent journalist at the Commonwealth Club:
"Why did you unilaterally ban your employees from war-related protests but not other equally controversial forms of political speech, why did you fire Henry Norr, and why won't you return phone calls from me or other journalists to discuss the reasons for your decision?"

Bronstein makes sense on issues of interpretive journalism - calling it "narcissism" and the "all-about-me factor in journalism" - as well as the current sensationalism made popular by Fox News - saying people are going through a "Roman amphitheater phase" and that the "pendulum will swing back" soon enough. But the firing of Norr still appears wicked and cowardly, motivated by fear, whatever motivated the Chronicle to do it. The Chronicle's actions made conservatives happy, since they always love to see liberal journalists fall, and it just reinforced the belief held by many Americans that freedom of speech isn't free and dissent always comes at a price.
FCC For Sale: Vegas Vacations Gladly Accepted

A report just released by The Center for Public Integrity reveals that media consolidation is already worse than you could imagine:

The three largest local phone companies control 83 percent of home telephone lines. The top two long distance carriers control 67 percent of that market. The four biggest cellular phone companies have 64 percent of the wireless market. The five largest cable companies pipe programming to 74 percent of the cable subscribers nationwide.

And these media conglomerates have faced little or no opposition from the FCC, thanks to the investments they have made in public relations, i.e. paying for the trips of FCC employees, most popularly to Las Vegas and New Orleans.
The report shows that FCC officials have taken 2,500 trips costing nearly $2.8 million over the past eight years, most of it from the telecommunications and broadcast industries the agency regulates. That was in addition to about $2 million a year in official travel funded by taxpayers.

Surprisingly enough, the mainstream media is picking up this story. Surely someone has told FCC Chairman Michael Powell. With just 12 days left until the announced vote, his position is looking less and less tenable.
Who Will Replace EPA Chief Whitman?

Few environmentalists will miss Christine Todd Whitman. While Whitman appeared to be a voice of reason in Bush's pro-industry, pro-big business administration, her actions proved that her dissent was only relative. Her tenure wasn't without some significant achievements, though.

Rumors last November were that Colin Powell "joked at a Cabinet meeting that Whitman was the administration's 'wind dummy' -- a military term for the object shoved out of the door of an airplane to determine how the wind is blowing over the landing zone." I guess we all know now how the wind blows.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said, "It would be a welcome change if Gov. Whitman's successor not only shared her interest in environmental progress, but were allowed to pursue it." That doesn't seem likely, in fact many environmentalists fear that Whitman's successor could be even worse on protecting our air, water and natural resources.

Four people - Deputy EPA Administrator Linda Fisher, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, Florida Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs, and the auto industry's chief Washington lobbyist, Josephine Cooper - emerged as favorites to replace Whitman.

Fisher is a former vice president at the chemical firm Monsanto.

Engler, now a vice president at the technology firm EDS, proposed to ease state standards for the carcinogen dioxin just before leaving as Michigan's governor.

Struhs works for the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and is the brother-in-law of the president's chief-of-staff, Andrew Card.

Cooper, president of the Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, was an assistant EPA administrator under President Reagan. She was a vice president for both the American Forest & Paper Association and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association.

Regarding the Texas DPS' destruction of documents related to the investigation of Texas House Dems, Josh Marshall in TPM continues to ask appropriate questions and make astute observations of the matter. He also has a column in The Hill in which yesterday he pondered Delay's involvement in all of this. Today he questions a federal regulation the DPS cites as reason for their actions with the above documents:

So it turns out that the Texas Department of Public Safety -- the agency that tried to track down the runaway Dems on the order of Speaker Tom Craddick and even pulled in the Department of Homeland Security -- destroyed the records of the search because of their extreme civil liberties scrupulosity.

So says the DPS at least.

As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday, the day before the runaway Dems returned to Austin, a commander with the DPS sent out an email instructing troopers to destroy all documents and photographs connected with the search.

The explanation provided by the DPS is that this was required by federal civil liberties guidelines.

Or, as this new AP story puts it ...

The Texas public safety department said that it destroyed the records because federal regulations prohibit it from keeping intelligence information that is not part of a criminal case.

Now, I believe part of the issue here is that these were civil, not criminal, arrest warrants. The state constitution gives the Texas House Speaker the authority to have missing legislators arrested and forcibly brought to the chamber. But being absent isn't a crime, thus no criminal arrest warrants.

But let's set that aside for a moment. Does this regulation even exist? In each of the stories I've read this evening, the writer passes on that claim without any comment giving the reader a clue as to whether it has any validity.

Is there really a federal regulation stipulating that nothing that police agencies compile -- pictures, notes, phone logs, anything -- can be kept unless it pertains to a specific criminal investigation? I find it really hard to believe that such a sweeping regulation exists. Now, mind you, my question is not purely rhetorical. I have certainly asked such questions before, with great incredulity, only to find out that yes, believe it or not, the answer is 'yes.' It just doesn't sound true to me, though -- and I think the failure to mention any specific regulation and the, shall we say, diminishing credibility of the source makes me think so even more.

I can imagine that there may be rules against police departments setting up their own private intelligence agencies, and keeping dossiers on people who haven't committed crimes. But that seems like a far cry from what we're talking about here. This is just keeping some record of what took place. Is there usually such haste and punctiliousness about complying with this 'regulation'?

For the moment I'd say that what we have here is, at a minimum, an uncharacteristically rapid and total effort to safeguard the runaway Dems' civil liberties. But the first thing I'm curious to know is whether such a regulation -- applied in anything like the way we see here -- even exists. Or, is it something they just made up on the spot to explain what looks very much like an attempt to cover their tracks.

-- Josh Marshall

I also stumbled upon a curious site, Question W which encourages all of us to seek answers we should have by now on big issues.
The Plot Thickens in Texas

As if the Gestapo tactics used by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) during the Democrat Roundup of 2003 weren't enough to draw attention to themselves, they've gone out and destoyed all documents related to the search.

More Vacancies to Fill for Bush Administration

This has been a banner year so far for the Bush Administration. Big "victories" include invading and occupying Iraq without UN approval, and passing a second massive tax cut to benefit the wealthiest Americans. So why is everyone jumping ship?

US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and National Economic Council Director Larry Lindsey quit in December, as both worried about the cost and effectiveness of more ill-advised tax cuts targeting the rich. Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, was happy to see these non-believers go and thought their replacements would "promote significant policy changes that will emerge in the coming year, particularly in tax policy."

A half dozen diplomats left during Gulf War II, disgusted with the way that the Bush administration squandered its international support for the war on terrorism, choosing instead to go it alone against Saddam Hussein and remove his yet-to-be-found weapons of mass destruction.

This week we say goodbye to Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and EPA Chief Christine Todd Whitman. Both cited a desire to spend more time with their family, but it doesn't take much reading between the lines to guess what was behind Whitman's decision, despite her comments to the contrary:

“I’m not leaving because of clashes with the administration. In fact, I haven’t had any. I report to the president, he has always asked me to give him my best unadulterated advice,” Whitman said in an interview with reporters Wednesday.

Whitman had differences with White House officials early during Bush’s presidency when she advised him in a March 6, 2001, memo that global warming “is a credibility issue for the U.S. in the international community” and “we need to appear engaged” in negotiations. The administration later withdrew from the Kyoto, Japan treaty on the issue negotiated by former Vice President Al Gore.

She also pushed enforcement of a Clean Air Act provision known as “New Source Review,” requiring that any increase in production from older factories, power plants and refineries be accompanied by state-of-the-art pollution controls. Those measures were opposed in Bush’s energy policy initiative.

“Christie Whitman must feel like her own long national nightmare is over,” said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, an advocacy group. “No EPA administrator has ever been so consistently and publicly humiliated by the White House.”

Now word has it that two, or even three Supreme Court Justices (Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor) will be stepping down in July, creating a huge opportunity for Bush to nudge the already right-leaning court just a little further to his side.

The Democrats are now launching a campaign to fight the GOP's special-interest money machine. A letter to Democrats today from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe included these choice bits:

They've held secret fundraisers – one hosted by Former President George Bush - to help pay for a massive disinformation campaign that will try to hide the record of Bush's nominees. [Time, 4/26/03]

They've started "gearing up," watching videos of old confirmation hearings like an NFL team preparing for the Super Bowl. [Wall Street Journal, 5/19/03]

"We're gearing up for the ugliest fight this country has ever seen."
-- Unnamed Republican staffer, Senate Judiciary Committee [Wall Street Journal, 5/19/03]

Seven of the nine Democratic presidential candidates addressed the impending vacancies yesterday, in an event hosted by EMILY's list, warning that tipping the Supreme Court could undermine a woman's right to abortion.
"These judges, some of these judges, that come out of the White House, they will take your rights away," said Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Edwards, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused Bush of trying to load the federal bench with conservative judges. "If we as Democrats don't have the backbone to stand up to that, we don't stand for anything," he said.

Both Lieberman and Braun criticized Bush for nominating Judge J. Leon Holmes of Arkansas to a federal judgeship. Holmes has said women should submit to the authority of men, and he likened pro-choice activists to Nazis.

You can almost hear the Christian Right rubbing their hands together with glee on this one. But they're using fear and loathing to rally the troops, around the holy trinity of "religious liberty, the sanctity of life and the defense of marriage"; simply code for breaking down the barriers between church and state, outlawing abortion and same-sex marriages.

Once-and-future Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer is warning his people against "Supreme Court Armageddon" of all things, i.e. the nomination of "terrible" justices like Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter.

Imagine that suddenly the White House and Senate liberals found themselves facing not one, but two Supreme Court vacancies. Surely Washington, D.C. would see the "mother of all confirmation battles." And that is exactly what Washington's rumor mill is predicting.

Dual vacancies could become a White House political nightmare, as well as an opportunity to bring great change to the Court.  Rehnquist, of course, is 100% conservative and would have to be replaced by someone just as strong or the White House would risk moving the Court further to the left.

O'Connor has been terrible on social issues and her departure could have a tremendous impact on cases involving religious liberty, the sanctity of life and the defense of marriage.

If the Administration does the right thing, future confirmation battles for Supreme Court vacancies will be massive, but each is a fight worth having. The possibility of impending high court vacancies also makes it even more critical for Senate Republicans to quickly and permanently resolve the current stalemate over judicial filibusters.

By the way, I was in the Reagan Administration when O'Connor was nominated. Top officials at the White House assured conservatives that she was "one of us," but, of course, she wasn't on the issues that mattered most and her record made that clear.

The same thing happened in the first Bush Administration with David Souter, who turned out to be even worse. We must not repeat that mistake again.

Already 100,000 Americans have signed a petition telling President Bush that they will "stand up for American values and oppose his right-wing extremist nominees to the nation's highest court."

Sign the petition. Write or call your Legislators. Write a Letter to the Editor. Tell your friends.

Rats jumping a s(t)inking ship?

After news Monday of Ari Fleischer's plan to leave his White House post in July, it was reported the same day that Tony Blair's press spokesman is also resigning.

Today the AP, Reuters, the UPI, CNN & Bloomberg report that Christine Todd Whitman has decided to leave as head of the EPA. She cites spending more time with family as her motivation, stating in her resignation letter, " is time to return to my home and husband in New Jersey, which I love...." Although Whitman didn't achieve much (if anything) she was probably the best hope the environment had under the current administration as she clashed with the Bush White House over environmental issues. Sierra Club spokesman David Willett told UPI, "We think she did her best at the EPA but the administration wouldn't let her do her job." It will be interesting to see who else bails before the 2004 re-(s)election campaign really gets rolling.
Ari Fleischer Will Be Missed?

I heard a lot of buzz today about the announced resignation of White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, 42. Friends and co-workers seemed genuinely pleased by the news of his departure. I certainly won't miss his condescending manner, but I wish I could say that I'm optimistic about what his departure means.

Fleischer wouldn't reveal much of his reasons for leaving in today's press briefing except to say:

"You just reach a point where you have to look into your heart that it's time to go.... I'm looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Becki [Rebecca Davis, a former White House staffer].... I met my wife who worked in this White House. And I'm very much looking forward to relaxing and spending more time with her.... I will be in Washington for the next couple years, maybe do a little speaking, maybe do a little writing, support in any way I possibly can the President so he can run for reelection and win. And then, eventually, head into the private sector; eventually, move back to Westchester to where I grew up.

Ari Fleischer now becomes the role player who leaves the championship team to explore free agency. I guess it's good news for Corporate America that such a desirable player is now on the market. Fleischer stands to make more money, and get more playing time as a starter, now that he's leaving the White House for a lucrative job in the private sector. No doubt, he'll take some cues from other White House Press Secretaries.

A peculiar sidenote: One White House reporter (Goyle) had this to say to Fleischer during today's briefing:

I don't know really how I thank you for your help and support, making me a better journalist. I learn every day from you. And you have been one of the best Secretaries in my 20 years in the White House I have seen. Smiling always, and always available and access to the press. And we will miss you, and especially I will miss you deeply. And I hope maybe we'll meet some day somewhere, and it will be better than here.

Puh-leeze! Who is this person, and why the need for such a sycophantic display? The correspondent from the Financial Times was a little less glowing in his review of Fleischer's 2-1/2 year stint.
"[Fleischer] has served President George W. Bush by providing a low-protein diet of information to a hungry press corps....Mr Fleischer has been the rigid front-man of a self-disciplined White House which prefers to drip-feed information. He has had a fractious relationship with some of the senior White House officials, and often a combative time with the press corps....And, at times, he has given the plain truth a wide berth without stepping quite into the realm of falsehood....On occasion the fast-talking press secretary's mouth would get ahead of White House policy."

I'll leave the last word on the subject to
Jonathan Chait of The New Republic wrote a long biography of Ari last year, stating, "Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom. Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether." Shouldn't we be celebrating in the streets, now that he's going?

Nah. Not only is he likely to be replaced by his ideological stunt double, Scott McClellan, but we'll see the old boy again. Ari stands to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on the speaking circuit during the upcoming election. May the campaign trail rise up to meet you, Ari.

Justice is relative...

There's increasing debate over corporate America and its role in driving policy decisions. This relationship has become painfully evident with the war in Iraq. And even though the Bush administration downplays its corporate affiliations to the public, their decisions are constantly scrutinized and exposed as being inextricably linked to the agenda of industry. There are some in Congress who are fighting to expose this union, but given the political climate in Washington, and given America's tendency towards issue ignorance, I believe that a dangerous precedent is being established. This precedent not only allows boardrooms to dictate policy, but it also protects their involvement and depends upon this relationship.

This letter is from the House Committee on Government Reform to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It calls into question the involvement of Halliburton and its ties to countries that sponsor terrorism. Our government is aware of the problem. How long do we wait for them to take action? You can track defense industry contracts with countries around the world. It's interesting how much money we make off our "enemies" in perfectly legitimate transactions.

Why is our government colluding with private industry when their goals and agendas should be unrelated? One provides defense and protection; the other is tasked with making money. Unfortunately, those agendas have now merged to become almost indistinguishable one from the other. Our government defends and protects the ability of corporate America to make money. Furthermore, our military will go to great lengths to defend the honor of these corporations. It's a problem that has existed for over a century, but this is happening in ours so it's taken on a matter of urgency. It's happening directly under our noses.

We seem to have entered a vicious cycle where the only winner is corporate America. Corporations court contracts with countries around the world, regardless of their political ideologies or sympathies towards the United States. Those countries then rebel using weapons provided by American companies. The United States enters into policing actions against those countries using, ironically enough, services and hardware provided by the same companies that are equipping the enemy. Who's the winner?

I heard a report on NPR the other day. It stated that private corporations are considered individuals by law. That's why they can sue for damages, claim privacy, and have their freedom of speech protected. Now wouldn't logic serve that they too can be brought up on charges of treason? Shouldn't they have to pay reparation costs to the United States if their weapons are used against us in military action? Gun makers are being sued for providing guns to gang members and Oliver North was charged for negotiating deals that involved weapons. Liberty and justice for all, huh?
A nice way to start the week

The New York Times reports this morning that White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer will resign in July. I hope it's a sign of things to come. More here as the story develops.
The Future Is Texas

Like a lot of you, I've noticed the dangerous changes that are occurring in our country - increasingly invasive law enforcement ... sanctioned media consolidation ... tax cuts for the rich. I'm afraid that these are all just the tip of the iceberg. Something fundamentally worse is at play, and how we collectively respond to it will determine the fate of our democracy, if not the fate of the world.

"Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it's cleverly disguised as having a tender heart. It's not a tender heart. It's ripping the heart out of this country."

-- Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston, after a March 5 hearing of the House Border Affairs Committee

In case you haven't been reading the news, we're now learning that Texas Republicans, with the help of Tom DeLay, used the Department of Homeland Security to try and arrest the courageous Democrats who were exercising the only political power they had left this past week. Check out "Republicans 'used anti-terror agency' to find political foes."

Does anyone think that Texas is an anomaly? They shouldn't, now that Texans are running the show in Washington. I grew up in Texas and still have family and friends there, and I can tell you that the state is a case study in how NOT to run a state government, let alone a national one. And you don't have to look any further than Texas to understand that Texas is happening to American politics. The December 19th 2002 Economist featured the cover story, "The future is Texas."

What many Americans do not realize is that Hitler and the Fascists rose to power in a democracy. You can watch "Hitler: The Rise to Evil" tomorrow night on CBS and get ready to be entertained, and educated. I mention this because it's been on my mind: how did the Germans let Hitler rule them? Interestingly enough, two Texas CBS affiliates have decided not to run the Hitler mini-series.

We need to run these people out of office before they run our democracy into the ground.

Bush - Hitler - Bush - Bin Ladin - Bush Bath
Know the facts behind Michael Moore's next documentary

Michael Moore's next film, "Fahrenheit 911," will look at the links between the families of Bush and Osama bin Laden. If you don't read the rest of this or follow the links, know this much: Bush was on the board of directors of an oil company - Harken Energy. Salem Bin Ladin was a stockholder in the company, represented by a man named James Bath. (Harken won a contract to drill off-shore of Bahrain, which got interrupted by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Bush illegally sold his stock in Harken just before that.). James Bath was suspended from flight status in the Texas Air Guard on the same orders that suspended George W. Bush. (see

When President George W. Bush froze assets connected to Osama bin Laden, he didn’t tell the American people that the terrorist mastermind’s late brother was an investor in the president’s former oil business in Texas.

Doing business with the enemy is nothing new to the Bush family. Much of the Bush family wealth came from supplying raw materials and credit to Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Several business operations managed by Prescott Bush – the president’s grandfather - were seized by the US government during World War II under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Osama bin Laden's family business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is a major construction company. Saudi Binladin Group was an investor in the Carlyle Group. Carlyle's directors include George H.W. Bush, and James Baker. George W. Bush's firm Arbusto Energy was funded by an investment from Texas investment banker James Bath, who was also the investment counselor for the bin Laden family. Bath had connections to the CIA, and was involved with the Iran-Contra, savings and loan, and BCCI scandals.

In 1978, Saudi Sheik Salem Binladin appointed James Bath, a close friend of Bush who served with him in the Air National Guard, as his representative in Houston, Texas. It was in that year that Bath invested $70,000 in Bush's company, Arbusto. The same year, Bath bought Houston Gulf Airport on behalf of the Saudi Arabian multi-millionaire.

One of many investors, Bath gave Bush $50,000 for a 5 percent stake in Arbusto. At the time, Bath was the sole U.S. business representative for Salem bin Laden. In a statement issued shortly after the September 11 attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin Laden’s, in Arbusto.
"In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests.

Considered as very close to the CIA, Bath appeared for the first time at Bush's side in 1978 when the latter made his first, unsuccessful run for the governorship. Bath helped to finance his campaign at the time and later bought into two of Bush's companies. Under a mandate signed in 1976, Bath represented the financial interests of the Saudi Arabian sheikh Salem Bin Laden in the United States.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network -- known as FinCEN -- and the FBI are reviewing accusations that entrepreneur James R. Bath guided money to Houston from Saudi investors who wanted to influence U.S. policy under the Reagan and Bush administrations, sources close to the investigations say."The federal review stems in part from court documents which indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy.

Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. In sworn depositions, Bath said he represented four prominent Saudis as a trustee [one of whom was Saudi Sheik Salem M. Binladen] and that he would use his name on their investments. In return, he said, he would receive a 5 percent interest in their deals. Bath invested $50,000 in the limited partnerships, according to the documents.

"George W. Bush's company, Harken Energy Corp. has been granted lucrative offshore drilling rights off the coast of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. One of the top shareholders of Harken is Saudi businessman Abdullah Taha Bakhsh. Bush said that to his knowledge, Bath 's investment was from personal funds, and no Saudi money was invested in Arbusto"

But Bush Denied Even Knowing Bath
Check out the name just below Bush's on the suspension orders
"Verbal orders of the Comdr on 1 Aug. 72 suspending 1st Lt. George W. Bush ... from flying status are confirmed... Reason for suspension: failure to accomplish medical examination."

Let's at least give them a few pleasant notes

The Democratic representatives who walked out of the House (and left the state) to deny the Republicans a quorum to vote on a ridiculous redistricting plan engineered by U.S. House majority leader Tom Delay (R-Houston) are returning to Austin, having accomplished what they set out to do.

We all know the Republican gestapo is in full motion to make their lives hell. The least we can do is send them a note of thanks and encouragement.

These are the House Democrats who submitted letters notifying the voting clerk of their intended absence, along with the URL of the pages to send them email:

Dawnna Dukes, Austin

Jim Dunnam, Waco

John Mabry, Waco

Elliott Naishtat, Austin

Eddie Rodriguez, Austin

Patrick Rose, Dripping Springs

Roberto Alonzo, Dallas

Kevin Bailey, Houston

Lon Burnam, Fort Worth

Gabi Canales, Alice

Jaime Capelo, Corpus Christi

Joaquin Castro, San Antonio

Norma Chavez, El Paso

Garnet Coleman, Houston

Robby Cook, Eagle Lake

Yvonne Davis, Dallas

Joe Deshotel, Beaumont

Craig Eiland, Galveston

Dan Ellis, Livingston

Juan Escobar, Kingsville

David Farabee, Wichita Falls

Jessica Farrar, Houston

Kino Flores, Mission

Pete Gallego, Alpine

Timoteo Garza, Eagle Pass

Ryan Guillen, Rio Grande City

Scott Hochberg, Houston

Terri Hodge, Dallas

Mark Homer, Paris

Chuck Hopson, Jacksonville

Jesse Jones, Dallas

Pete Laney, Hale Center

Glenn Lewis, Fort Worth

Ruth Jones McClendon, San Antonio

Jim McReynolds, Lufkin

John Mabry, Waco

Trey Martinez-Fischer, San Antonio

Jose Menendez, San Antonio

Joe Moreno, Houston

Paul Moreno, El Paso

Rick Noriega, Houston

Rene Oliveira, Brownsville

Dora Olivo, Missouri City

Aaron Pena, Edinburg

Joe Pickett, El Paso

Robert Puente, San Antonio

Chente Quintanilla, Tornillo

Richard Raymond, Laredo

Allan Ritter, Nederland

Jim Solis, Harlingen

Barry Telford, DeKalb

Senfronia Thompson, Houston

Carlos Uresti, San Antonio

Mike Villarreal, San Antonio

Miguel Wise, Weslaco

Steve Wolens, Dallas

A Liberal Bias in Texas Media?

If there is one thing that the press hates, it's the accusation of bias, especially of a conservative or corporate bias. This is the bias that the press is most sensitive to, because journalists sense its inevitability, as newspaper, television and radio news are owned by an increasingly smaller number of large corporations, whose business is serving other large corporations by providing an advertising outlet for their sales and marketing needs.

Republicans have insisted for more than thirty years that there is a liberal media bias. The notion is ridiculous to anyone with the ability to read critically, but by repeating this mantra for three decades, they've managed to convince many Americans that it's true. There are even non-profit organizations in existence whose sole mission is to expose such a liberal bias.

Anyone making this claim today, likely hasn't read much in the Texas news lately. Take, for example, their recent coverage of the Texas House Democrats breaking quorum to fight the Republican redistricting proposal. Newspapers across the state gave loads of coverage to the Democrats in hiding, but short shrift to their reasons for doing so.

I sent a letter to the San Antonio Express-News taking them to task for their clearly Republican-biased coverage of this story as it developed. They responded as follows:

From: "Xxx, Xxx"
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 10:51:52 -0500
Subject: RE: UPDATED: 2003 version of 'Killer Bees' gets numbers to break quorum

We would like to publish your letter but require that you include your home address, and daytime phone number for verification purposes and our records.

I was a little surprised by the wording of their request - what "verification purposes" and "records" were they referring to? But I dismissed my paranoia, gave them what they requested and they printed my letter, sort of. Here is what they printed (the title is theirs, not mine):
Taking sides?

I guess there is little truth to the claims of a "liberal media bias," at least in San Antonio.

The headline and blurb on on Monday read: "Legislators on the lam: More than 50 Democratic House members have left the state in an attempt to derail and likely kill major pending bills termed a priority by the Republican-controlled Legislature. House Speaker Tom Craddick ordered state police officers to find them."

Words like "lam," "derail" and "kill" liken the Democrats' action with criminal acts. The assumption is that they "should" be hunted down by police. There was no mention of the redistricting proposal that led to this action.

Their editing of my letter didn't do me any justice, or answer the question they posed in the title, "Taking Sides?" Here is my letter in its unedited form:
Dear Express-News Editor,

I am writing regarding Guillermo Garcia's article, "UPDATED: 2003 version of 'Killer Bees' gets numbers to break quorum."

I guess there is little truth to the claims of a "liberal media bias," at least in San Antonio. The headline and blurb on the main page of the San Antonio Express website read:

"Legislators on the lam"

"More than 50 Democratic House members have left the state in an attempt to derail and likely kill major pending bills termed a priority by the Republican-controlled Legislature. House Speaker Tom Craddick ordered state police officers to find them."


I don't know if Guillermo wrote this copy, but words like "lam," "derail" and "kill" are clearly biased, likening the Democrats' action with criminal acts. The assumption is that they should be hunted down by state police, no question.

Major pending bills are referred to as "a priority." There is no mention of the redistricting proposal that led to this action. Guillermo's linked article gives decent coverage to the similar "Killer Bees" action of 1979, but again, nothing about the Democrats' reason for breaking the quorum today, except that it "was taken as retaliation against the Republican leadership."

How much is the Texas GOP paying the Express-News to serve as its public relations agency? I hope its worth more than your journalistic integrity.

Let's Spank the Texas GOP

Last week, I encouraged people to participate in a poll on the Republican Party of Texas's website. The poll question dated May 2, 2003 was:

Should the legislature take up congressional redistricting this year? I wrote then:

Please take the time to vote online. It takes less than 30 seconds.

What we're faced with here in Texas is an attack on Congressional Districts as they stand. By redrawing districts to the specifications of the right, the voice of large minority voting blocks will be effectively squelched. It'll discourage brown people by dividing their already weak voices.

This is a matter of effective representation and a sincere understanding of cultural voting patterns, not of partisan politics. Please defend my right to join with my community to select a person who adequately represents and understands my interests, without chopping up my neighborhood and dividing the power of my vote.

Unfortunately, sixty eight percent of respondents answered "Yes." And the Republicans moved forward with their plans, seemingly certain of victory. Who would have thought then that a week later the Killer Ds would surprise everyone by leaving the state to break quorum. Apparently it was the only way left for them to resist redistricting that would have effectively added four new Republican districts in Texas and reduced Austin's chances of ever electing its desired representative.

Now the GOPs are at it again, calling for the heads of the Killer Ds. Their latest survey would be hilarious, if it weren't 100% serious:

What should be the punishment for Texas Democrat House members who staged a walkout and shut down state government?

  • Un-elect them in 2004
  • Thrown in jail by the Department of Public Safety
  • Spanked and sent to their rooms for their childish antics

Given these choices, guess which choice most Texas Republicans are choosing? If you have a second, go place a vote for corporal punishment, then once we make that the clear winner, we can tell everyone how ridiculous the Texas GOP is, in case they don't already know.
New Mexico attorney general not hot on looking for missing Texas legislators

Monday, May 12, 2003

The attorney general in New Mexico says Texas law enforcement officials probably can't go into that state to arrest missing state lawmakers -- and she made clear she's not hot on looking for them.

Attorney General Patricia Madrid said if Texas issues arrest warrants for the officials, then New Mexico officials may act on them and extradition proceedings would have to be held.

Her comments came after Gov. Rick Perry's office asked New Mexico whether it would allow Texas officials to make arrests in that state. Madrid said the question is being researched. But she wasn't taking it all serious.

"Some are speculating this request from the Texas Governor's office concerns an effort to locate missing Texas House Democrats," Madrid wrote. "If so, Texas should understand that since ski season is over, the Santa Fe Opera has not begun and President Bush was just in town, I don't think they are in Santa Fe now. Nevertheless, I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the look out for politicians in favor of health care for the needy and against tax cuts for the wealthy."

She also wrote that normal arrest procedures should be followed and "this is an internal political matter to be handled by Texas government officials."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R - Houston) had proposed a bill that would redistrict Travis County, the county in which Austin, the state capitol, is located. The Republican majority in the Texas House was pushing a scheme to carve up this district and effectively deny Austin representation in Washington. See the article in The Austin Chronicle.

Dems in GOP-dominated Texas House stage mass absence to break quorum
Police may round up missing Democrats

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Almost all of the Democratic members of the state House failed to show up Monday morning, preventing the GOP-dominated body from convening because of a lack of a quorum. In the first quorum-breaking in the state in more than 20 years, letters from 53 of the House's 62 Democrats informed the leadership they would be absent.

The walkout coincided with the scheduled debate for a congressional redistricting bill. Because of a deadline looming later this week, it also threatens pending major legislation backed by Republicans, who are in control for the first time since Reconstruction. Partisan tension has been building all legislative session. Republicans and Democrats have clashed over a no-new-taxes budget, sweeping lawsuit limitation legislation and a push by the GOP leadership to redraw congressional voting lines to favor Republicans.

The Texas House cannot convene without at least 100 of the 150 members present. The body has 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats. The plan, if successful, would derail and likely kill major pending bills that have been termed a priority by Republicans, who took control of the House last November for the first time since Reconstruction.

Twenty-four years ago this month, a group of 12 Texas state senators defied then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby by refusing to show up at the Capitol. The "Killer Bees," as they came to be known, hid out in an Austin apartment while state troopers, Texas Rangers and legislative sergeants-at-arms unsuccessfully combed the state for them. Carlos Truan, one of the original Senate "Killer Bees," said such drastic tactics aren't for the faint of heart. "They'd better be prepared to pay the political consequences for their actions, because there will be a hell of a price to pay," said Truan, who no longer serves in the Senate. "Breaking a quorum is a very, very major thing."

There was a call this morning to send State Troopers out to find them, but it is reported that some or all of them have left the state to avoid arrest.

THE ISSUE: The Federal Communications Commission will vote June 2 on "overhauling rules that govern ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations. "

Current ownership rules prevent mergers between major television networks and limit the number of TV and radio stations a company can own in a market. The rules also prohibit any single company from owning TV stations that reach more than 35 percent of U.S. households or owning a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city.


  • FCC Chairman Michael Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
  • FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, one of two FCC Democrats, who is touring the country to educate people on this issue.
  • FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, FCC Democrat, who is traveling with Copps.
  • Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, who has encouraged Powell to ignore requests to delay the vote or make any details of proposed changes public in advance.

WHAT IS AT STAKE: Noam Chomsky, Ted Turner and Sens. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota have all warned against easing media ownership restrictions, potentially putting control of television, newspapers and radios in the hands of just a few giant media companies.
"The country is really standing on a cliff when it comes to media concentration," Wyden said. "When you go over that cliff you are going to be fundamentally changing what this country is about, and not for the better."

"Most people in this country have no idea what's about to happen to them even though their very democracy is at stake," Adelstein said.

Media companies, and FCC Chairman Michael Powell, contend that the current rules are outdated and hurt business.


  • Call FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or send him an email telling him that you share his concerns and support his efforts to protect our democracy from the threats posed by media consolidation.
  • Call FCC Chairman Michael Powell at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or send him an email telling him he should delay the media ownership vote or make public in advance details of proposed changes.
  • Contact your elected officials and tell them to put public pressure on Michael Powell to do what is right for the country, and not just for big business.
  • Write a letter to your local newspaper, expressing your views on this issue.

In the words of FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein:
It's critical for us to hear from the public before we act. But to comment on these vital issues, the American public and its representatives in Congress need more information. Did you know this was happening? Have you heard about it on national or local news? Time is short. Don't let the national dialogue fall short. The FCC needs to hear your voice as it reshapes the future of American media.

George Bush Proclaims May 1 is Loyalty Day

Obviously I was late in receiving the memo. I commented on May 2 that May 1 was just another Thursday in America. The US does not recognize May 1 as "May Day," the international workers' rights holiday which originated "in response to the judicial murder of several anarchists after the Haymarket [Chicago] affair of May 1886, in a campaign of international solidarity with U.S. workers struggling for an eight-hour day. " (Chomsky)

In 1984, Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 1 to be "Law Day," the day after he chose to:

disregard the proceedings of the International Court of Justice that later condemned the U.S. government for its "unlawful use of force" and violation of treaties in its attack against Nicaragua.

I guess "Law Day" never caught on, so Bush is trying to succeed where Reagan failed, by creating yet another day to disguise the true meaning of May 1 - "Loyalty Day". Here is the bulk of Bush's proclamation:
To be an American is not a matter of blood or birth. Our citizens are bound by ideals that represent the hope of all mankind: that all men are created equal, endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On Loyalty Day, we reaffirm our allegiance to our country and resolve to uphold the vision of our Forefathers.

Our founding principles have endured, guiding our Nation toward progress and prosperity and allowing the United States to be a leader among nations of the world. Throughout our history, honorable men and women have demonstrated their loyalty to America by making remarkable sacrifices to preserve and protect these values.

Today, America's men and women in uniform are protecting our Nation, defending the peace of the world, and advancing the cause of liberty. The world has seen again the fine character of our Nation through our military as they fought to protect the innocent and liberate the oppressed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are honored by the service of foreign nationals in our Armed Services whose willingness to risk their lives for a country they cannot yet call their own is proof of the loyalty this country inspires. Their service and sacrifice are a testament to their love for America, and our soldiers' honor on and off the battlefield reaffirms our Nation's most deeply held beliefs: that every life counts, and that all humans have an unalienable right to live as free people.

These values must be imparted to each new generation. Our children need to know that our Nation is a force for good in the world, extending hope and freedom to others. By learning about America's history, achievements, ideas, and heroes, our young citizens will come to understand even more why freedom is worth protecting.

Last September, I announced several initiatives that will help improve students' knowledge of American history, increase their civic involvement, and deepen their love for our great country. The We the People initiative will encourage the teaching of American history and civic education by providing grants for curriculum development and training seminars. The Our Documents initiative will use the Internet to bring infor-mation about and the text of 100 of America's most important documents from the National Archives to classrooms and com-munities across the country. These initiatives are important, for it is only when our children have an understanding of our past that they will be able to lead the future.

Is It Time for the Democrats to Concede?

Just 18 months until the 2004 Presidential Election, and the Democrats are running an underdog campaign, I guess. The Republicans have out fundraised Democrats 2-to-1. Their President is enjoying peak popularity and approval ratings fresh off the heels of two cynically-motivated wars. The Democrats are barely resisting Bush while he ramrods his tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republicans control all three branches of government and yet the Democrats behave as if they have something to lose.

Eighteen months before the November 2000 election, Bush had already been anointed as his party's candidate. He held a commanding lead in raising campaign funds. Thanks to a campaign run by a dream team of men from the White Houses of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Dad, he looked impossible to beat. Bush raised so much money, he was audacious enough to forego federal matching funds, so he wouldn't be limited by any semblance of ethics, and would be free to spend as much as he cared to, whatever it took to win.

Despite Bush's tactical advantages, the 2002 election still seemed to be Gore's to lose. As the Democrats (and Ralph Nader) picked away at Vice President Al Gore's commanding lead in the polls, the Republican candidates jockeyed for position and laid a foundation for a cabinet or corporate position, or a 2008 run themselves. Well before the election, Bush's dream team was already preparing for the presidency, getting their ducks in a row: war in the Middle East, the complete overhaul of progressive taxation, the rollback of environmental protection, etc. If it hadn't been for John McCain, Bush would have essentially ran unopposed. And when it came time to debate, the "smarter" Democrat managed to lose twice to the "dumb" Republican.

History is looking to repeat itself, only this time there won't be a close call in Florida. Maybe it's not too late for the Democrats to simply concede the White House for four more years, save themselves the time, hassle and expense (not to mention humiliation) of financing another losing presidential campaign, and start concentrating on political offices they have a chance of winning, on any level: Senator, Representative, Governor, Mayor, School Board Member, Justice of the Peace.

If any candidate does has a chance of winning, he will have to exhibit honor, courage and integrity - three qualities any one of which is rare in modern politics, in either party. If anyone is capable of running an honest campaign and inspiring American voters to exercise their right to demand a better republic and a more judicious democracy, it is Howard Dean. Newsweek's Howard Fineman seems to agree:

"Democratic insiders (and their media cousins) may think that Dean's a non-starter in the race for their party's 2004 presidential nomination. I don't agree. In fact, the former governor of Vermont is still a man to watch, if not the man to beat.

"Howard Dean, at least as a candidate, is a shark in Land's End clothing. He is always moving forward and always on the attack. Most of his rivals genuinely loathe him at this point, but Dean doesn't seem to care. He's looking to inspire voters, and thinks his combative style is what they want. He thinks that Democrats want some anger in their candidate to confront Bush's Red State triumphalism. Dean appears to draw inspiration from the cutthroat side of the Kennedy legacy, Bobby and Jack in particular. Their rhetoric soared and their ideals were noble, but their tactics were tough."

But enough with the hype - what exactly does Howard Dean stand for? Stay tuned - the Howard Dean campaign will not be televised.
Canadians on to Bush Doctrine

I saw something yesterday on Global Sunday - Canada's version of Meet the Press - that you would never see in the United States. "Resistance is Futile!: Who's Behind the Bush Doctrine," opened with scenes of Bush making his made-for-tv landing last week on the USS Abraham Lincoln, to the sounds of Bobby McFerrin's 1988 hit, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." The irony wasn't lost on me. That song was a big hit for McFerrin the same year that George Bush took over where Ronald Reagan had left off as President. Fifteen years later, Baby Bush is positively glowing from victory in a war against the same opponent whom his father fought, but with a decidedly different outcome.

Maybe Bush's father made the mistake of fighting a war which ended. Bush's War on Terrorism is open-ended, and other opponents are already teed up: Syria, North Korea, Iran, and who knows, maybe France someday. Are these people just more comfortable ruling under a siege mentality? They're always "defending" themselves against some elusive and often ambiguous enemy, like Hitler and the Anarchists, or Reagan and the Communists in Russia and Central America, and now Bush and terrorists in the Middle East.

Global Sunday's host Danielle Smith answered the question, "Who's Behind the Bush Doctrine," by interviewing Richard Perle to begin the segment. That's right, the same Richard Perle who has continued to profit from war by playing both sides, advising the President to spend money on the military while getting consulting fees from military contractors. Perle was arrogant, patronizing, condescending and disrespectful, as always. He could barely contain his smug laughter as he dodged Smith's honest questions:

Smith: We hear about the Bush doctrine, can you explain to us what are the elements of the Bush doctrine?

Perle: I think it's very simple and straightforward and really just common sense. In a world in which there are threats and dangers we have to be prepared to forestall those threats if we possibly can. This has lead to ideas about pre-emptive attack. But pre-emptive attack is little more than intervening before you can be struck. No-one would quarrel I assume that with the idea that if we saw a missile on a launch pad about to be fired at us, we could take it out first if we were capable of doing that. There's a lot of controversy about how much evidence you need and how imminent the attack is. But the notion of self-defence without waiting to be struck is certainly a widely accepted idea, but somehow when it's part of the Bush doctrine it comes in for a lot of criticism.

Smith: Critics say that pre-emptive attacks may violate international law, is that not the case?

Perle: Well I think that international law has always recognized the right of countries to defend themselves. It's enshrined in the United Nations charter, in article 51. There will always be controversy about the facts. But about the principle that a country about to come under attack can forestall that attack, on that principle international law is very clear.

Smith: What the idea of acting unilaterally also a part of the Bush doctrine?

Perle: Well if we are challenged with a threat to our security and we are the only ones who recognize that threat and take it seriously then we may be in a situation where we alone can act. We certainly cannot fail to defend ourselves because we can't get others to support the idea that we should defend ourselves.

Perle went on to make other dishonest and patently ridiculous claims: that Clinton is to blame for September 11, that Bush is "in charge," that this "war" was unplanned, is open-ended and will continue to be fought on foreign soil:
Smith: Is it fair to say that this type of foreign policy is the policy that you've wanted to see in place for some time?

Perle: It certainly is the policy that I've wanted to see and I think we suffered by having a less than robust policy in the past. September 11th was in part the product the failure to deal with past terrorist episodes in which we were attacked principally overseas, our ships, our embassies and we did little or nothing to respond to it so the terrorists became bolder and bolder.

Smith: But the water-cooler talk in Canada is that there's this conservative plot to control the White House and you're part of it, how do you respond to that?

Perle: Well, anyone who's met this president will understand that he decides these questions in policy for himself and he's been faced with a situation that is called for new policies and he is settled on policies that I think reflect good common sense. I think the people who argue that a small group have taken over the White House are having trouble accepting that these policies are valid. They don't like the policies and therefore they assume that there must be some origin source for these policies other than the president's own good judgement and I think they're looking for conspiracies when in fact common sense is the answer.

Smith: But how long range is this plan?

Perle: There's no plan as such. There's simply an approach to dealing with threats to our security and I'm afraid that until we can pronounce that we are no longer vulnerable to terrorist action, we're going to have to continue to pursue terrorists where we find them and sometime that will be outside the United States.

Notes from Vancouver

We're in Vancouver for this weekend's marathon. We received a common question from a Canadian customs official: "How long is it?" My wife answered politely, "26.2 miles - the distance of a marathon." I guess people think that a marathon just means any long race, and not a standard distance!

Every Canadian I've met has been friendly, courteous and polite. This has always been my experience with Canadians I've met everywhere, on every continent. I'm beginning to understand why they're so polite, and why Americans are not by comparison - Canadians aren't afraid that the world is full of thieves and thugs. We've been taught to be distrusting, to lock our doors, to not give our neighbors the benefit of the doubt. These messages are conveyed to us from the top down: by a President who attacks a country before it threatens us, by CEOs who lie, cheat and steal and get away with it, and by a media that glamorizes violence.

I've seen many people in Vancouver wearing surgical masks, most of them of Asian descent. Its funny, but I suspect that most of them do so out of a superstitious belief that a cotton mask will somehow protect them from contracting SARS. Actually, they're protecting us, now that their mouths are covered when they sneeze, cough and burp.

Tax Cuts for the Rich are Still a Bad Idea

As President Bush continues to lobby for his tax cuts, more and more conservatives are making their opinions known. The Senate has offered to cut Bush's $760 billion tax cut proposal in half to $350 billion, while House Republicans have approved a $550 billion cut that would benefit the wealthy even more disproportionately than Bush's plan. Bush had this to say in defense of his proposed amount:

"Some in Congress say the plan is too big. Well, it seems like to me they might have some explaining to do. If they agree that tax relief creates jobs, then why are they for a little bitty tax relief package?"

Bush raises a good question. If "they" - meaning House and Senate Republicans who support a tax cut but differ on the amount - agree that tax relief creates jobs, then why wouldn't they support a larger tax cut? The answer is simple: they know better. These tax cuts aren't designed to stimulate the economy, but rather to get more money into the hands of the people who helped put Bush in the White House.

Let's not forget that the federal income tax system was created to get Americans back to work and lift the nation out of the Great Depression. The system was designed to be progressive, i.e the more you make, the more you pay. This may sound unfair, but what it does is put a premium on earnings, so that those individuals who gain the most from the system, which we're all a part of, also contribute the most. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that millionaires and billionaires owe a lot to the government, the political system and the American people for their wealth. (Dick Cheney and George Bush certainly do.)

Tax cuts for the wealthy, which are what have been proposed, won't create jobs. This explains why Bush proposed cuts when the government had a $5.6 trillion surplus and didn't need to create jobs, and now proposes cuts when the deficit is projected to be over $500 billion and he is compelled to at least talk about jobs. Tax cuts have nothing to do with economic stimulus, at least not as the Republicans have presented them. If the cuts targeted middle- and lower-income taxpayers, they would help. The rich won't spend their checks, they'll just pocket them.

Senator George Voinovich, (R-Ohio), who has been publicly criticized by Bush for supporting the smaller Senate package, put it mildly when he pointed out that someone will have to shoulder the burden of these tax cuts, regardless of their amount:

"Three hundred and fifty billion dollars is a responsible package, and if the president wants to do more than that, and some of my colleagues in Congress, let¡¯s pay for it. Let¡¯s offset it. Let¡¯s not just borrow that money, and put the jacket on the backs of my children and grandchildren and your children and your grandchildren."

In a Friday speech at United Defense, the Santa Clara, California developer of the Bradley fighting vehicle, Bush continued to pitch his cuts and even went so far as to blame the recession on the war:
"We've got a deficit because we went through a recession. . . . We got a recession because we went to war. ... And I said to our troops, if we're going to commit you into harm's way, you deserve the best equipment, the best training, the best possible pay. It doesn't matter what it costs, we're going to pay what it costs in order to win the war. ... As a result of the recession -- which was official in January of 2001 -- we've got a deficit."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-San Francisco), criticized Bush's comments:
"It's really a disservice to the debate to say that we're in a recession because we went to war. We had a recession before we went to war, and the president's remedy -- massive tax cuts for the wealthy -- did not take us out of it then and will not improve the economy now."

Media Consolidation Looming

Judging from Bill Moyers' interview with FCC commissioner Michael Copps, the June 2, 2003 deadline for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) judgment on potential revision of media ownership limits does not look promising.

Like most government commissions, the FCC is led by the party in control of the White House, which holds a 3-2 commissioner majority and the Chairman's position. Michael Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, is the FCC Chairman, and has made his feelings on further media consolidation quite clear. Could this mean that Clear Channel will eventually own every radio station in the country, and the nightly news will be dominated by Fox News wannabes?

May Day is May 1st in the United States

While hundreds of thousands demonstrated peacefully all over the globe for May Day yesterday, there was barely a mention of the international workers' rights holiday in the US media. Media coverage at home and abroad was generally negative:

"May Day Violence Mars Celebrations in Europe"
"Berlin Riots on May Day Leave 175 Police Injured, Cars Burnt"
"May Day crash in S. Africa kills at least 51, more feared dead"
"May Day abandoned in China"
Demonstrators turned out on every continent, marching in the streets of Baghdad, Havana, Berlin, Stockholm, Zurich, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo, Rome, Seoul and Manila.

I suspect that many Americans have no idea what May Day signifies, or that its origins are American, not European. Thanks to general apathy and ignorance when it comes to historical perspective, most Americans went about their business on May 1, like it was just another Thursday.

Chris Durant from the Times-Standard in Eureka, California typifies Americans' ignorance:

The exact origins of May Day are debatable, with some websites claiming it was started by laborers in the 1800s in Australia and others pointing to ancient Celtic beginnings.

Most sources agree that it was first celebrated in the United States on May 1, 1886, by striking workers in Chicago.

Noam Chomsky points out that its understandable that we forget our own American history, especially when our government is intent on keeping it a secret:
The effectiveness of the state-corporate propaganda system is illustrated by the fate of May Day, a workers' holiday throughout the world that originated in response to the judicial murder of several anarchists after the Haymarket affair of May 1886, in a campaign of international solidarity with U.S. workers struggling for an eight-hour day.

In the United States, all has been forgotten. May Day has become "Law Day," a jingoist celebration of our "200-year-old partnership between law and liberty" as Ronald Reagan declared while designating May 1 as Law Day 1984, adding that without law there can be only "chaos and disorder."

The day before, he had announced that the United States would disregard the proceedings of the International Court of Justice that later condemned the U.S. government for its "unlawful use of force" and violation of treaties in its attack against Nicaragua.

"Law Day" also served as the occasion for Reagan's declaration of May 1, 1985, announcing an embargo against Nicaragua "in response to the emergency situation created by the Nicaraguan Government's aggressive activities in Central America," actually declaring a "national emergency," since renewed annually, because "the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" -- all with the approbation of Congress, the media, and the intellectual community generally; or, in some circles, embarrassed silence. "