Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The mad rush to preserve Bush's oppressive despotism

I have inspired many energetic arguments about how to describe the Bush administration when I referred to it as "communism" (permanent, one-party rule, few or no civil liberties, sham or no elections and a marriage of government and industry). No, that's all wrong, people insisted, Bush's gift to us is fascism, and they didn't want me to make the mistake of thinking it was something else. I tell them I prefer the descriptive term "oppressive despotism." Is it monarchy? Absolutism? Authoritarianism? Totalitarianism? Dictatorship? It sure isn't democracy! I think there's really great news for the regime definitionists: if you call the Bush criminal cabal syndicate any of these things...you're absolutely right!

It's all those things and more: a collection of world class buttholes of historical significance. With the twentieth century behind us, anyone who has voted for any republican has voted for all of this, unfortunately, and needs a better explanation as to why he or she did it than, "I didn't know."

Furthermore, I'd like to know what in heaven's name is going through the minds of people who are rushing to protect and defend these individuals who are sworn to crush the whole world to smithereens. Are they so divorced from reality they believe what makes the GOP special is they want to keep girly magazines out of teenager's hands?

Glenn W. Smith:

When the U.S. Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush to the White House by calling off the Florida recount in 2000, many pundits applauded the action because it allegedly headed off a constitutional crisis. That was a phony rationalization that disguised what is now apparent: the real post-Florida 2000 constitutional crisis is the Bush Administration's unprecedented, Constitution-destroying lust for power.

The fight should not be measured against partisan positioning for the 2008 elections. Democratic and Republican political consultants will view the crisis that way because that is their job. Consultants are hired to win elections, not save the Constitution. Congressional Democrats must look past the powerpoints of their consultants. So should Republicans, who are struggling to distance themselves from Bush's negatives without asking the White House for a divorce.

But, there is now no other choice. Bush's drive to place permanent barriers between the people and their government, to lift the presidency above all laws, must be stopped. [...]

The Bush gambit is to permanently derail progressive policy goals by building an impenetrable wall between the people and their government and by asserting ultimate and absolute presidential authority. These ambitions are made obvious by the Administration's actions: Bush's unprecedented veto threats; the obvious "we-don't-really-care-what-you-think" attitude of Gonzales during his committee testimony; the Administration's questioning Senator Hillary Clinton's patriotism when she asked for details of Bush's Iraq plans; the refusal to disclose details of the Administration's emergency government plan.

Even a temporary eviction from the White House beginning in 2009 would not deter the neoconservatives and their anti-democratic allies. A Democratic president will have her/his hands full cleaning up the Bush garbage. While a Democratic president would probably resist further steps along the above-the-law path, it's unlikely a president will willingly give up any power that has accrued to the presidency during the Bush reign. So, the right wing reasons, we'll just pick up in 2012 where we left off in 2008.

The federal courts, packed with conservative appointments, will also do what they can to establish permanent barriers between the American people and their government.

Congress has no choice but to destroy those barriers now. The crisis cannot be reduced to a messy or selfish partisan confrontation. Truth is, many Republicans are as interested as Democrats in saving our constitutional democracy. The further truth is, the stakes matter much, much more than any potential partisan consequences for either major party.

In the end, the battle for the future of America may make necessary the impeachment of a president who is very publicly moving to destroy our constitutional form of government. It may not seem the politically prudent thing to do. But this is a president who lied us into a war, who uses his pen to make laws (constitutionally reserved for Congress) through signing statements, who commutes the sentence of a convicted criminal to protect himself from scrutiny, who believes he has the right to declare anyone he wants an enemy combatant and then "disappear" that person the way we taught our tyrannical and thuggish client-state dictators to do during the Cold War. If these are not sufficient to justify a legal and constitutional challenge to the legitimacy of the Bush presidency, exactly what would a president have to do before we would impeach him?

I was wondering why Washington wasn't listening to anyone: boss's orders. It's a rich Bush family tradition!

David Swanson:

It's remarkably common for a grandson to take up his grandfather's major project. This occurred to me when I read recently of Thor Heyerdahl's grandson taking up his mission to cross the Pacific on a raft. But what really struck me was the BBC story aired on July 23rd documenting President George W. Bush's grandfather's involvement in a 1933 plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. I knew the story, but had not considered the possibility that the grandson was trying to accomplish what his grandfather had failed to achieve.

Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895 to 1972) attended Yale University and joined the secret society known as Skull and Bones. Prescott is widely reported to have stolen the skull of Native American leader Geronimo. As far as I know, this has not actually been confirmed. In fact, Prescott seems to have had a habit of making things up. He sent letters home from World War I claiming he'd received medals for heroism. After the letters were printed in newspapers, he had to retract his claims.

If this does not yet sound like the life of a George W. Bush ancestor, try this on for size: Prescott Bush's early business efforts tended to fail. He married the daughter of a very rich man named George Herbert Walker (the guy with the compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, that now belongs to the Bush family, and the origin of Dubya's middle initial). Walker installed Prescott Bush as an executive in Thyssen and Flick. From then on, Prescott's business dealings went better, and he entered politics. [...]

The BBC report provides a good account of the basic story. Some of the wealthiest men in America approached Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, beloved of many World War I veterans, many of them embittered by the government's treatment of them. Prescott Bush's group asked Butler to lead 500,000 veterans in a take-over of Washington and the White House. Butler refused and recounted the affair to the congressional committee. His account was corroborated in part by a number of witnesses, and the committee concluded that the plot was real. But the names of wealthy backers of the plot were blacked out in the committee's records, and nobody was prosecuted. According to the BBC, President Roosevelt cut a deal. He refrained from prosecuting some of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They agreed to end Wall Street's opposition to the New Deal.

Clearly the lack of accountability in Washington, D.C., did not begin with Nancy Pelosi taking Dubya's impeachment off the table, or with Congress' decision to avoid impeachment for President Ronald Reagan (a decision that arguably played a large role in installing Prescott Bush's son George H.W. Bush as president), or with the failure to investigate the apparent deal that George H.W. Bush and others made with Iran to not release American hostages until Reagan was made president, or with the failure to prosecute Richard Nixon after he resigned. Lack of accountability is a proud tradition in our nation's capital. Or maybe I should say our former nation's capital. I don't recognize the place anymore, and I credit that to George W. Bush's efforts to fulfill his grandfather's dream using far subtler and more effective means than a military coup.

Bush the grandson took office through a highly fraudulent election that he nonetheless lost. The Supreme Court blocked a recount of the vote and installed Dubya.

Prescott's grandson proceeded to weaken or eliminate most of the Bill of Rights in the name of protection from a dark foreign enemy. He even tossed out habeas corpus. The grandson of Prescott, that dreamer of the 1930s, established with very little resistance that the U.S. government can kidnap, detain indefinitely on no charge, torture, and murder. The United States under Prescott Bush's grandson adopted policies that heretofore had been considered only Nazi policies, most strikingly the willingness to openly plan and engage in aggressive wars on other nations.

At the same time, Dubya has accomplished a huge transfer of wealth within the United States from the rest of us to the extremely wealthy. He's also effected a major privatization of public operations, including the military. And he's kept tight control over the media.

Dubya has given himself the power to rewrite all laws with signing statements. He's established that intentionally misleading the Congress about the need for a war is not a crime that carries any penalty. He's given himself the right (just as Hitler did) to open anyone's mail. He's created illegal spying programs and then proposed to legalize them. Prescott would be so proud!

The current President Bush has accomplished much more smoothly than his grandfather could have imagined a feat that was one of the goals of Prescott's gang, namely the elimination of Congress.

Sheesh! Clearly Congress thinks it's all right, because they're taking an extended August vacation. The legislative branch is the people's voice; we sent more democrats to Washington to speak up for us. It's not looking good; in fact, it's looking like the Bush administration will do whatever it wants.

Fitrakis and Wasserman:

The Bush Administration has both the inclination and the power to cancel the 2008 election.

The GOP strategy for another electoral theft in 2008 has taken clear shape, though we must assume there is much more we don't know.

But we must also assume that if it appears to Team Bush/Cheney/Rove that the GOP will lose the 2008 election anyway (as it lost in Ohio 2006) we cannot ignore the possibility that they would simply cancel the election. Those who think this crew will quietly walk away from power are simply not paying attention. [...]

In Ohio 2004, the arsenal of dirty tricks exploded. Based in Columbus, we have documented more than a hundred different tactics used to steal the 20 electoral votes that gave Bush a second term. More are still surfacing. As a result of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit (in which we are plaintiff and attorney) we have now been informed that 56 of the 88 counties in Ohio violated federal law by destroying election records, thus preventing a definitive historical recount.

As in 2000, a compliant Democrat (John Kerry) allowed the coup to proceed.

For 2008 we expect the list of vote theft maneuvers to escalate yet again. We are already witnessing a coordinated nationwide drive to destroy voter registration organizations and to disenfranchise millions of minority, poor and young voters. [...]

What's also clear is that this administration has a deep, profound and uncompromised contempt for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the US Constitution. When George W. Bush went on the record (twice) as saying he has nothing against dictatorship, as long as he can be dictator, it was a clear and present policy statement.

Who really believes this crew will walk quietly away from power? They have the motivation, the money and the method for doing away with the electoral process altogether. So why wouldn't they?

The groundwork for dismissal of both the legislative and judicial branch has been carefully laid. The litany is well-known, but worth a very partial listing:

The continuation of the drug war, and the Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act and other dictatorial laws prompted by the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, have decimated the Bill of Rights, and shredded the traditional American right to due process of law, freedom from official surveillance, arbitrary violence, and far more.

The current Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, has not backed away from his announcement to Congress that the Constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus. The administration continues to act on the assumption that it can arrest anyone at any time and hold them without notification or trial for as long as it wants.

The establishment of the Homeland Security Agency has given it additional hardware to decimate the basic human rights of our citizenry. Under the guise of dealing with the "immigration problem," large concentration camps are under construction around the US.

The administration has endorsed and is exercising its "right" to employ torture, contrary to the Eighth Amendment and to a wide range of international treaties, which Gonzales has labeled "quaint."

With more than 200 "signing statements" the administration acts on its belief that the "unitary executive" trumps the power of the legislative branch in any instance it chooses. This belief has been further enforced with the administration's use of a wide range of precedent-setting arguments to keep its functionaries from testifying before Congress.

There is much more. In all instances, the 109th Congress---and the public---have rolled over without significant resistance.

Most crucial now are Presidential Directive #51, Executive Orders #13303, #13315, #13350, #13364, #13422, #13438, and more, by which Bush has granted himself an immense arsenal of powers for which the term "dictatorial" is a modest understatement.

The Founders established our government with checks and balances. But executive orders have accumulated important precedent. The Emancipation Proclamation by which Lincoln declared an end to slavery in the South, was issued under the "military necessity" of adding blacks to the Union Army, a step without which the North might not have won the Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order #8802 established the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Harry Truman's Executive Order #9981 desegregated the military.

Most to the point, FDR's Executive Order #9066 ordered the forcible internment of 100,000 people of Japanese descent into the now infamous concentration camps of World War II.

There is also precedent for a president overriding the Supreme Court. In the 1830s Chief Justice John Marshall enshrined the right of the Cherokee Nation to sovereignty over its ancestral land in the Appalachian Mountains. But President Andrew Jackson scorned the decision. Some 14,000 native Americans were moved at gunpoint to Oklahoma. More than 3,000 died along the way.

All this will be relevant should Team Bush envision a defeat in the 2008 election and decide to call it off. It's well established that Richard Nixon---mentor to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney---commissioned the Huston Plan, which detailed how to cancel the 1972 election.

Today we must ask: who would stop this administration from taking dictatorial power in the instance of a "national emergency" such as a terror attack at a nuclear power plant or something similar?

Nothing in the behavior of this Congress indicates that it is capable of significant resistance. Impeachment seems beyond it. Nor does it seem Congress would actually remove Bush if it did put him on trial.

Short of that, Bush clearly does not view anything Congress might do as a meaningful impediment. After all, how many divisions does the Congress command?

The Supreme Court, as currently constituted, would almost certainly rubber stamp a Bush coup. If not, like Jackson, he could ignore it as easily as he would ignore Congress.

What does that leave? There is much idle speculation now about what the armed forces would do. We also hear loose talk about "90 million gun owners."

From the public side, the only conceivable counter-force might be a national strike or an effective long-term campaign of general non-cooperation.

But we can certainly assume the mainstream media will give lock-step support to whatever the regime says and does. It's also a given that those likely to lead the resistance will immediately land in those new prisons being built by Halliburton et. al.

So how do we cope with the harsh realities of such a Bush/Cheney/Rove dictatorial coup?

We may have about a year to prepare. Every possible scenario needs to be discussed in excruciating detail.

For only one thing is certain: denial will do nothing.

Impressive how serious they are, and did they say something about Ohio election records being destroyed? Yes they did! Their sacred Dubya has to be protected, so he can go forward and declare himself God Almighty, and finally have orgasmic revenge on all them dirty, sissy liberal hippy types what drove out Saint Prophet Milhous. That'll learn 'em!

Steven Rosenfield:

Two-thirds of Ohio counties have destroyed or lost their 2004 presidential ballots and related election records, according to letters from county election officials to the Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner.

The lost records violate Ohio law, which states federal election records must be kept for 22 months after Election Day, and a U.S. District Court order issued last September that the 2004 ballots be preserved while the court hears a civil rights lawsuit alleging voter suppression of African-American voters in Columbus. [...]

"The extent of the destruction of records is consistent with the covering up of the fraud that we believe occurred in the presidential election," said Cliff Arnebeck, a Columbus attorney representing the King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association, which filed voter suppression suit. "We're in the process of addressing where to go from here with the Ohio Attorney General's office."

"On the one hand, people will now say you can't prove the fraud," he said, "but the rule of law says that when evidence is destroyed it creates a presumption that the people who destroyed evidence did so because it would have proved the contention of the other side." [...]

"Our staff unintentionally discarded boxes containing Ballot Pages as requested in (Brunner's) Directive 2007-07 due to unclear and misinterpreted instructions," wrote Butler County Board of Election Director Betty McGary and Deputy Director Lynn Kinkaid in a May 9 memo. "Several boxes containing all the wire-bound ballot pages were discarded into a Rumpke dumpster. The dumpster would have been emptied into the local landfill."

"The Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Board of Elections was unable to transfer the unvoted precinct ballots and soiled precinct ballots," wrote John Williams, Hamilton County Director of Elections on May 16, 2007. "To the best if my knowledge, the above ballots were inadvertently shredded between January 19th and 26th of '06 in an effort to make room for the new Hart voting system." [...]

Reporters associated with FreePress.org and Arnebeck's legal team hoped the court order preserving the 2004 ballots would enable them to investigate how these results occurred. Depending on the ballot type and vote-counting machine used, they have theories about how Bush's vote could have been inflated. But because many of these rural counties apparently have destroyed the very 2004 election records that would clarify what happened, it is now virtually impossible to determine what happened.

In Warren County, where county election officials said on Election Day that the FBI had declared a homeland security alert - which they later retracted - ballots were diverted to a warehouse before counting. The local media was not allowed to observe the vote count. According to a letter from the Warren County Board of Election to Brunner's office, the election board cannot find 22,000 unused ballots from the election. In nearby Butler County, unused ballots are also missing, fueling speculation that they might have been used by Republican partisans to pad the president's totals.

"The missing records reveal where the fraud occurred," said Arnebeck. "You take as an example, Warren County. It is well documented that there was a phony homeland security alert and that was the excuse for excluding the public and the press from observing what was going on during Election Day. So the missing unused ballots would suggest that ballots were remade to fit the desired result."

"The same situation occurred in Clermont County," he said. "We have sworn affidavits from people who saw white stickers placed over the Kerry-Edward ovals in this optical scan county," he said, referring to one way of masking a would-be Kerry vote, because optical-scan machines read ink marks on paper ballots. "So the missing unused ballots would suggest they were used to remake ballots to reflect the desired vote for Bush."

If Bush were Hitler, these people would be goosestepping, grinning ear to ear about it and loyal to the last. I call dibs on the crematorium concession.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's summer and the heat is on

Marjorie Cohn:

Bush has claimed executive privilege in resisting congressional subpoenas in the investigation of the U.S. Attorney firing scandal. U.S. Attorneys who weren't "loyal Bushies" were ousted in a mass purge. Bush instructed former White House political director Sara Taylor and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to refuse to testify about any "White House consideration, deliberations or communications" regarding the firings. He also instructed his chief of staff Joshua Bolten to withhold documents demanded by the House Judiciary Committee. Defying a congressional subpoena is a crime. [...]

Congress has three options. First, if a majority of the judiciary committee and the full chamber agree, they can issue contempt citations and then certify them to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action," according to a federal statute. But in spite of that statute, the White House will reportedly forbid the Justice Department from pursuing contempt charges.

Second, Congress could invoke its own "inherent contempt" power, direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest the recalcitrant witness, and imprison her in the Capitol basement. This power was last used in 1934.

Finally, Congress can hire counsel to enforce the subpoenas in civil court.

In the past, when the White House and Congress have clashed over claims of executive privilege, the President generally capitulated before criminal proceedings began. But Bush has consistently defied Congress and the courts with his secret spying program and his signing statements. He will likely hold firm, banking on favorable rulings in the increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

Perhaps Congress should subpoena Dick Cheney to shed light on these matters. Since Cheney denies belonging to the executive branch, he'd be hard pressed to assert executive privilege.


Talk of impeachment gets louder

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to quash any such idea after the Democratic sweep of Congress in last November's election. And the full-page ads from such groups as Why We Can't Wait, calling for the impeachment of the president, were dismissed as just more national noise from the Looney Left -- hardly to be taken seriously in the raging maelstrom of last fall's election politics.

But that was six months ago. Now, in midsummer and on the eve of a congressionally mandated assessment of the unending madness in Iraq, strange and ominous signs are beginning to appear in all sorts of odd and curious quarters, suggesting that this nation should not have to endure another 18 months of the George W. Bush administration and that, if we do, it well might be at the nation's peril.

Much of the current dismay swirls around Vice President Dick Cheney, who is busily ignoring rules of government he doesn't like and declaring his office to be beyond the purview of anyone's scrutiny, while actively setting about to demolish any government agency that has the impertinence to suggest otherwise. Cheney's advocacy of interrogation techniques for "enemy combatants" that many think tantamount to torture, of monitoring phone calls and e-mails without bothering about warrants, and of ignoring the niceties of the Geneva Conventions when dealing with terrorists has put him out of favor even with a growing number of conservatives. Some want to jettison him as a hopeless drag on the Republican Party's electoral prospects next year; others are beginning to join the throng that is convinced Cheney is out of control and needs to be dispatched for the heath and safety of the republic itself. [...]

Six months ago, the mayor of Salt Lake City -- a Democrat no less -- appeared before a committee of our state Senate to speak on behalf of a resolution asking Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Bush for "heinous human rights violations, breaches of trust, abuses of power injurious to the nation, war crimes and misleading Congress and the American people." Six months ago, hardly anyone took such talk seriously.

What a difference six months can make!

Wow, it only took 6½ years to catch on. Note to Congress: HURRY UP.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The joy of killing

Some people just have to live the blood and guts excitement of murder. For some people, mean-spirited ignorance made real by action is a way of life. In some places, the need to kill hides under the devout Christian, staunchly republican surface like an infection, a wreaking, cancerous tumor which begs to be hacked out, roughly.

I live in such a place. Edmond, Oklahoma wants you to think of it as a benevolent, friendly, righteous and religious town. "Edmondites" want you to know theirs is the hometown of Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller. But Edmond is known worldwide for one thing only, something less cheerful. It's the scene of history's bloodiest post office massacre committed by my mail carrier, "Crazy Pat" Sherrill, about which and for whom the phrase "going postal" was coined. I was going to complain about this man who refused to deliver my mail. Now I'm glad I didn't.

My family moved here 46 years ago and we were never "accepted" in the community. I'm glad of that, too. With all the pointless hate and slaughter that comes out of these people, I wouldn't want anybody to think I'm one of them.

Being a perpetual outlander has disadvantages. When trouble visits, when people commit horrible crimes, local officials refuse to assist, as the complaint comes from me.

But, it's just an excuse, and a damned excuse at that. These ogrish trolls love the killing, and want it to last forever. Through their actions and inactions, they're clever about causing and enabling it. Remind you of anything? It should, because it's part and parcel of the greater, repressionist evil which has seized America. It's the same "I-don't-care-about-anything-but-money-and-blood" attitude that gives you monsters like Bush and Cheney, and endless, pernicious war.

For months I've attempted to mobilize the local shelter, the police, the media, to help me stop the person or persons who are shooting cats in my neighborhood. I care for a cat that's been shot twice in the last year. The only help I got was from a shelter bonehead who warned me about Edmond's cat leash law:

7.10.001. Cats at large. No owner, keeper or other person in control shall permit any cat owned, harbored or kept by him to be at large. It is unlawful for such cat to be at large at any time within the City. (Ord. 2989, § 5, March 27, 2006).

Ever try to train a cat to walk on a leash? I did. I actually tried to comply. I thought it might be possible. But I discovered what any five-year-old knows: you can't make a cat walk on a leash, and attempting it is the ultimate fool's errand. The cats I rescued and tend don't care about home, food or me. They only want to roam at large—meet other animals, climb trees, lie in the grass—and not stay inside with the exception of a walk on a leash with me in tow. That behavior is instinctive, and only an idiot doesn't know it.

But, the cat leash law isn't intended to establish discipline and order in cats. It is intended to cause death. Edmond has other cat ordinances. Here are two:

7.10.040 Killing authorized when. Any person may kill a cat, the appearance or conduct of which is such as would cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe the cat to be afflicted with rabies; provided that such person who kills a cat believed to have rabies shall immediately notify the city-county health office or the county superintendent of health for consultation concerning the disposition of the animal or carcass thereof. (Ord. 784 § 3, 1975; Ord. 729 § 4, 1973).

7.10.050 Number of Cats. It shall be unlawful to keep or harbor more than four (4) cats over the age of six months. (Ord. 2989, § 9, March 27, 2006).

Rabidity in cats isn't apparent even to doctors, nor is it prevalent. According to our state health department, the number of confirmed cases of rabidity in cats in our county last year was zero. But, you could bang away with a 12-gauge pump shotgun and blow cats to pieces in Edmond all day everyday until the end of time, and none of our "enforcement" people would lift a finger to stop it. Also, setting a limit of four cats doesn't accommodate a serious effort at animal rescue. These rules are aimed at fundraising; although, I haven't been able to determine what the fine amount is for allowing a cat to roam at large. Edmond doesn't have any intention of enforcing the ordinance; so, the purpose isn't even to fine people. The purpose is to promote, enable and validate delicious killing.

Did Edmond's cat leash law come from good science, politicians or feline caregivers? That's a good question. It appears the language was drawn not from a resolution of people whose specialty is the health and welfare of cats, but that of wild birdsthe Association of Avian Veterinarians:

Whereas: Domestic cats (Felis domesticus) are a nonnative introduced species wherever they occur;

Whereas: Free-roaming (stray and owned) cats have had well-documented significant impacts on local wildlife populations and are an important cause of the decline of neotropical migrants;

Whereas: Free-roaming (stray and owned) cats face a multitude of life-threatening hazards and diseases, present zoonotic risks to humans, and contribute to the growing problem of cat overpopulation and suffering;

Whereas: Managed cat colonies do not solve the problems of cat overpopulation and suffering, wildlife predation, or zoonotic disease transmission;

Whereas: Veterinarians are uniquely positioned to offer recommendations and counseling on indoor living as part of a feline preventative health program, and by offering this service can contribute to the improved welfare of cats;

Whereas: Veterinarians are increasingly concerned with preventative feline health care, yet are poorly trained to counsel cat owners to incorporate indoor living as part of a preventative health program;

Whereas: Promoting veterinary education which emphasizes responsible cat ownership, and supporting local ordinances that include mandatory licensing, vaccination, and neutering, can contribute to a reduction in the number of unwanted free-roaming cats;

Whereas: The Association of Avian Veterinarians seeks to preserve species and their natural habitats, and has adopted the philosophy that veterinarians should take a leading role in preventative care for all the earth;

Be it resolved that the Association of Avian Veterinarians:

1. Supports community efforts to develop local ordinances that a) require mandatory spay/neuter of all cats over six months of age unless the owner purchases an annual intact permit and/or breeders permit; b) require all cats to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies; c), discourage cat owners from allowing their cats to roam at large.

2. Supports reducing the numbers of stray cats through humane capture (with placement in homes where appropriate) by local health departments, humane societies, and animal control officers.

3. Supports actions by governmental wildlife agencies, public health agencies, and public and private organizations to ban or eliminate cat colonies on public lands in a humane manner and discourage feral cat colonies on private lands.

4. Will work with veterinary educational institutions and other professional organizations - as well as within the AAV - to promote awareness, education, and research aimed at reducing the number of owned and stray free-roaming cats.

All too proper—and authoritarian, chilling and cold-blooded, not to mention riddled with factual inaccuracy. I have to wonder about someone who specializes in the medical treatment of wild birds, but what the heck—different strokes, and live and let live. Whoever wrote this nightmarish resolution proceeded from the questionable assumption cats at large pose a threat to the environment by wiping out bird populations en masse. Did you ever hear of such a thing? I didn't.

Perhaps the motive is political: Edmond republicans are extreme examples, and the town has a powerful and frightening legacy of Christian evangelical fanaticism. I believe some person or group who has influence over the city council, and could be described as Dominionist, pushed the measure through as their contribution to end times. In that free roaming cats keep down rodent populations, which they were bred to do, reducing free roaming cats could allow pestilent disease like plague to gain a foothold. That could help force Jesus to come! And if you can force Jesus to come to Edmond, you can force Jesus to give you all his money.

I'm joking about Jesus' money. But I'm not joking about Edmond's culture of death. Now it seems we have a new cat butcher:

Deborah Spaeth was horrified by what she saw on her lawn. Her cat’s body was lying in the front yard, cut lengthwise down its stomach. The entrails had been partially pulled out.

“It had to happen that night,” she said. “There wasn’t any blood, so he had to be killed somewhere else and tossed in my yard.”

That happened in June. Spaeth said she waited to see if it was pattern or a one-time incident.

But after a neighbor’s cat came up missing, she contacted Edmond Police.

“Pets are a part of (the) family and for something to happen like this can be tragic,” said Edmond Police spokeswoman Glynda Chu.

Around that same time Spaeth and her neighbors noticed dead birds lying underneath mailboxes as they walked in the Park Lane Estates addition. She said they appear to be placed there intentionally.

Spaeth, a psychotherapist, wondered what type of individual could be doing this. “I think ‘maybe there is a Jeffrey Dahmer in our neighborhood.’ A lot of serial killers and sociopath individuals start with animals. But that might just be the mom’s reaction in me.”

Chu said residents should keep an eye on their pets even when they go outside for a short time.

“Losing a pet is like losing a child to some people,” she said. A lesson that Spaeth’s daughter has taken to heart.

“Every night before she goes to bed she checks the back doors, we have cat doors and she makes sure they are all inside,” Spaeth said.

Notice how the police spokeswoman doesn't promise the law will take action—nor does the story mention the cat leash law, although you can be sure the police mentioned it to Ms. Spaeth, and they may have even cited her. To be fair, Edmond has other ordinances which make this behavior a crime. It's also a crime under state and federal law. With an unsolved homicide, Edmond's law enforcement should be interested in cat killers. But don't bet there will be an investigation. Horrific death is the only culture this town knows, and let it be a lesson: you don't have to be polite to wanton killers or those who enable them.

Updated 6/13/14: The fun continues here and here with the loss of my favorite cat—perfectly legal in our communitarian community.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Web writers breathing life into impeachment

I really enjoy reading The Smirking Chimp. There are two good articles up today about impeachment which bring the discussion to a rolling boil:

Bernard Weiner:

As Bush&Co. isolate themselves even further in the White House Bunker with their lies, scandals, coverups and unending wars, they're becoming even more reckless and dangerous to America and its citizens. That behavior shouldn't be all that surprising: That's what happens when vicious animals are cornered.

Domestically, they're no longer even trying to hide their aversion to democracy and the Constitution. With his new Executive Order on "executive privilege," for example, Bush openly proclaims that he is untouchable by the rule of law; now there are only two branches of government--the Legislative Branch is ignored as irrelevant--and CheneyBush more or less control them both. More on this issue below.

Abroad, the CheneyBush Administration is preparing in the Fall to escalate the Iraq War yet again, (www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3382603) at the same time the propaganda machine is being revved-up in preparation for a coming attack on Iran. (www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/04/17/060417fa_fact) Both actions will help jihadi-recruiting and thus put at risk even more U.S. troops abroad and citizens at home. Plus, an attack on Iran will have far-reaching consequences with regard to Russia, China, the availability of oil, the rise of the Euro in international trade and the concomitant fall of the dollar, the impact on the U.S. economy, etc. etc.; has Bush&Co. given serious thought to any of these, and other, ramifications?

So, once again, (www.crisispapers.org/essays-w/getitnow.htm) I pose the question to previous Bush voters, to centrists and Independents and traditionally conservative Republicans: Do you finally get it? Do you understand now why the HardRight CheneyBush Administration has sunk so low in the polls and has little hope of ever getting out, thus taking the Republican Party (and, if you're an elected official, you) down the drain with them in 2008? Do you understand why, since CheneyBush will not resign, impeachment is the only constitutional way to pry their corrupt, itchy fingers from the levers of power? [...]

This week, persuant to Congressional committee subpoenas for documents with which to investigate various White House scandals, Bush upped the Constitutional crisis. He is preparing to assert in an Executive Order that the Legislative Branch could pass all the contempt citations it wants, but U.S. Attorneys would be instructed not to pursue these criminal charges when the President says that documents are off-limits because of "executive privilege." (www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/07/20/executive_privilege/email.html) In short, the Legislative Branch would be receiving no documents, nada, zilch.

Cheney, several weeks earlier, refused to produce documents demanded under law by the National Archives since, he claimed, he was not part of the Executive Branch. Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers likewise refused for the second time to abide by a subpoena to appear before a House investigatory panel examining the politicized firing of U.S. Attorneys. Yep, "executive privilege" again.

What Bush and Cheney are saying, clearly and arrogantly, is: You'll never get the evidentiary documents or testimony you're looking for. If you want 'em, you'll have to take us to court, and we can stall and appeal forever until one of our hand-picked courts backs our position. Or you can put impeachment back "on the table" and try to get us in front of your House panel, and that ain't gonna happen either. Just lie back and enjoy it. [...]

These guys never learn. They gave up on the one war they might possibly have won--the one in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al-Qaida--and moved their troops precipitately to Iraq, which was no danger to the U.S.; now the Afghanistan war has flared up again, with the Taliban re-energized. Based on lies and deceits, the CheneyBush Administration invaded and occupied Iraq with no real understanding of that society and with no Plan B in case they ran into trouble; now they're in deep, deep trouble and won't change course.

The CheneyBush desire to start a third war in Iran is absolutely nuts, and will further damage America's military and political position in the region and around the world, and will lead to even more terrorist activity directed at the U.S.

This analysis does not even go into the likelihood that Turkey might well invade Iraq to keep the Kurds from gaining enough military and political strength to move on Kurdistan statehood. Or that the U.S. might unlilaterally attack the resurgent Al-Qaida forces in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan, or force the Musharaff government to do so, in either instance leading to the fall of that government to Islamist extremists who would then have their hands on deliverable nuclear weaponry. Or that Russia, anxious to slow down the further deterioration of its old empire and influence, including in the Greater Middle East, is starting to take on Western Europe and the U.S. [...]

Short summary: America, the world, can't take much more of the CheneyBush Administration. It's long since time to rein in their extreme assumption and exercise of power, and to bring them into accountability for the high crimes and misdemeanors they've committed. The only Constitutional way of doing that is to institute impeachment hearings in the House. The sooner the better.

Frank J. Ranelli:

We have ran the gamut of-–and sadly sanctioned-–some of the most unconceivable and heinous measures in American history. The Military Commissions Act, The Patriot Act, The Domestic Wiretapping Program, ignored the Geneva Conventions, revoked habeas corpus and engaged in torture. We removed our selves from the world’s courts, attacked and now occupy a country that never posed a grave or imminent danger to our own nation and then failed to adequately care for the pointlessly wounded soldiers, evident by the Walter Reed Hospital debacle.

The Justice Department enacted by law and created in 1870, to make certain fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans was carried out under the law, has been purely politicized. It has been altered and grotesquely mutated into a blanket of immunity for loyalty and allegiance to an autocratic president that has throttled our nation to the point of snuffing out all legitimacy of our national system of jurisprudence.

Alberto Gonzales, the empty suit at the head of the Department of Justice, appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2005, not only repeated lies with impunity, but also obediently abdicates his sworn duty. He obsequiously yielded to Bush’s wild assertions of executive privilege and steadfastly refused to pursue Congress’ mandated contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton. Justice, by these lawless actions, is not being served, but is abruptly being handed its hat.

The commutation of I. Scooter Libby, an obstructionist of the law and felon, reminds us that justice is no longer in service in the interest of integrity and impartiality. Justice is now enslaved to the bidding of the Bush Administration and serves only to provide shelter and safe haven for loyal soldiers within a rogue, Mafioso-style executive branch.

Pre-emptive war planning operatives, such as John Yoo, David Addington, Paul Wolfowitz, the infamous “Torture Memo”, the radical “Unitary Executive Theory”, unconstitutional signing statements, the shocking Abu Ghraib torture pictures, The Project for a New America Century’s outlandish, 1998 white paper entitled, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, all signify we are on an inexorable march towards dictatorship.

It should now be brutally apparent and undoubtedly understood by all that the Bush Administration is not merely above the law; it is the law. Our seven-year autocracy has now morphed into full despotism. Bush and his actors of austerity, beyond all doubt, are desperados who are unrestrained and unfettered, severing all ties with restraint and decency, decorum and sound judgment. The nascent Nixon enterprising years of imperialism and lawlessness are feeble by contrast. [...]

Thirty plus years after Nixon's failed coup d'état, George W. Bush has taken the idea of a tyrannical, presidential despot, at the helm of the Executive Branch, to dizzying heights and abject lows in America in the 21st century. Bush has now fully entrenched himself-–in a twisted, extravagant, bravado-ridden version of Richard Nixon-–by stonewalling every action Congress takes, as a totalitarian ruler, more bellicose and bombastic than his previous six years of pompous swagger and reckless governing.

The juxtaposition of these two loggerheads-–an ineffectual Congress and an imperial President-–leads to the will of the people being usurped, subjugated, and silenced. The People no longer have a voice in this government, for it is no longer our government as much as it is no longer a democracy. What America has become is an autocracy operated by lobbyists, mega-corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the whores in Washington that these power brokers, in a very fascist way, have bought politicians’ loyalty, acquiescence, and obedience. Contrary to the revisionist history so may of us are indoctrinated with, and unswervingly clutch to without reason or true examination of the facts, is our nation is run by an oligarchy. [...]

Here is the straightforward reason why impeachment is a mandate to return to a working democracy: No matter what legislation Congress passes, Bush will veto it, ignore it, or add a dubious “signing statement”, making unilateral claims he may disregard it or claim the bill is "unconstitutional", plainly bypassing the judicial process of the Supreme Court, as well. As many historians have appropriately point out, not even King George III of England had or assumed these kinds of authoritarian powers.

The fabric of democracy is feeling the strain and we must unburden our country, through impeachment, from a despotic president and a dangerous vice-president who uses fear and subjugation to rule by and not the rule of law to govern our nation by. There can and must be far more significant consequences for all of these abuses of power and executive anarchy, or the actions of Bush and Cheney will simply become historical precedence for future abuses by future presidents, whether a republican or a democrat.

The stuff I left out is good, too. This is the strongest language yet in support of impeachment. It's a little troubling to know that Congressional telephones are in a virtual gridlock with citizens calling to demand impeachment, yet still Congress doesn't get the message. Watch for all hell to break loose when Congress goes into recess in August.

Update: The more I think about it, the more convinced I've become that when Congress recesses in August, you'll have that black bag "terrorist attack" which is the prelude to the attack on Iran. Iran has recently been a party to some secret oil and natural gas deals which cut the United States out entirely. Because of that, I've come to think our attack plan, that of "over the shoulder bombing" with nuclear armed ballistic missiles, isn't designed to take out underground bunkers, which probably don't even exist: it's designed to destroy the underground infrastructure and render the natural resources unusable, since if we can't have it, nobody can.

Therefore, if Congress doesn't unseat Bush and Cheney before it goes on vacation next month, global nuclear war could have ended by the time it is scheduled to reconvene. I'm sure not one individual in Congress has considered this is possible. I wonder if any legislators will be left alive.

Update II: Compare my post with the one dated Thursday, July 26, 2007 on The Next Hurrah and the comments. Am I the only person on earth who studied history? In the 1990s when Bush was running and Cheney showed his ugly face, I told people if he got elected his administration would be Nixon Remixed/Homage for Milhous, and in those words. I warned of budgetary deficit and inflation. I was one trillion percent correct, and people ignored me then as now. I get really sick and tired of being so far ahead of the learning curve. There's certainly no big trick to it! I never find myself in a position to say to anyone, "I told you so," and would get no satisfaction from it if I did. I sincerely hope I'm wrong when I suggest a good chance things will go pop when Congress goes on vacation. I'm not always right and surely not prophetic; but, I've been right enough that when I make a prediction like that, it scares even me.

(1) Bend over (2) Kiss ass goodbye

I'm no John Milton, Digby or emptywheel. My reading tends to be U.S.-mainstream and doesn't contain much exotic stuff like lukery's excellent Sibel Edmonds series. While I'm making excuses, I remain remarkably busy here. You'd think I was putting half a dozen kids through college. So, my comments are limited to the most egregious and outrageous things, the stuff that sticks in my craw that even I can't believe.

I came of draft age during Nixon in Vietnam, so I can believe almost anything. In the last week, easily the most idiotic thing I saw come from Washington was an executive order from President Bush that doesn't appear to have a number, referred to as Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. Along with the order is a link to a fact sheet which explains absolutely nothing substantive about this ridiculous, incomprehensible and unbelievable order.

In spite of the mainstream media's ignoring it, much has been written about it already in the alternative press. Author Stephen Pizzo has this fun annotated analysis of the order which is good enough for me. You are probably familiar with it if you're reading this blog: it says basically the federal government can seize the property of people who give aid to terrorists or do things disruptive to the reconstruction of Iraq, without notice and without legal recourse.

There are so many unique things in this order it's hard to know where to start. I've read a few executive orders, but none like this one. It is written like a statute, but not written by Congress. Executive orders are intended to be used by the president to direct the operation of federal agencies. The purpose of this order is to bypass Congress and deny citizens due process in the "blocking" (confiscation) of their property. The nonspecific nature of the qualifications strongly suggests all that is required is a person criticize the war or the Bush administration, and his property ownership can vanish immediately.

Like many issues Bush has addressed with executive orders, there were already laws in place to deal with funding and abetting hostile foreign subversives; so, it's hard to know, once again, just what the motive is behind this order. Offhand one would think it is illegal, but since when has compliance with the law stopped the Bush administration? I agree with Marc Ash when he says, "[s]ince the order seeks to circumvent both judicial and Congressional oversight, it renders unto the executive branch, and ultimately Mr. Bush, absolute power of law." Clearly the Bush administration is rather certain a period of civil insurrection is at hand. Why would they think that? For what contingencies could they be scrambling so quickly?

I suspect our attack on Iran is at hand, and that Washington expects a nuclear counterattack on the lower 48. If there are angry survivors, they plan to apprehend them and cancel their property ownership rights. As cynical as that sounds, I can't help but guffaw a bit, because it seems like a pollyannaesque view: a nuclear strike on the United States would probably leave survivors, if any, struggling too hard to stay alive to pose much of a problem of dissidence to the Bush administration. Of course, I'm just letting my imagination run wild. On the other hand, one thing seems pretty certain: I can't imagine these little tin gods handing over the power they've accumulated in the executive branch to a democratic administration, or even a new republican administration. That isn't a pretty thought either.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush takes title to entire universe

This one is such a no-brainer, I had to argue with myself for several hours about whether or not to comment. Generally by the time one leaves grammar school, one understands that bullies who declare they own the playground are only making trouble for themselves. Not Bush and Cheney.

The Washington Post:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege. [...]

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all." [...]

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called it "an outrageous abuse of executive privilege" and said: "The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said the administration is "hastening a constitutional crisis," and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the position "makes a mockery of the ideal that no one is above the law."

Waxman added: "I suppose the next step would be just disbanding the Justice Department." [...]

David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel's office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a "unitary executive." In practical terms, he said, "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president's will." And in constitutional terms, he said, "the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch."

But Stanley Brand, who was the Democratic House counsel during the Burford case, said the administration's legal view "turns the constitutional enforcement process on its head. They are saying they will always place a claim of presidential privilege without any judicial determination above a congressional demand for evidence - without any basis in law." Brand said the position is essentially telling Congress: "Because we control the enforcement process, we are going to thumb our nose at you."

Glenn Greenwald:

The adminsitration's position is grounded in a 1984 Reagan administration memo (.pdf) written by then-OLC official Ted Olson which made the same claim. Back then, the EPA refused to turn over to Congress subpoenaed documents as part of a Congressional investigation into Superfund enforcement, causing Congress to cite the EPA officials for criminal contempt. The conflict was never resolved because the EPA ultimately agreed to turn over the demanded documents. [...]

One of the primary, defining attributes of a civilized society that lives under the rule of law is prosecutorial independence. Without that, political opponents of those in power can be prosecuted for political rather than legal reasons. And worse still, our most powerful political leaders are free to break the law with impunity because they control the prosecutorial process, which -- in this warped view of our republic -- means that presidents have an absolute power to block criminal prosecution of their subordinates who break the law, provided it was done at the President's behest. [...]

It is hard to overstate how threatening that posture is to the defining attribute of a government that lives under the rule of law. As the Supreme Court said in 1974 in U.S. v. Nixon, when recognizing the validity of Executive Privilege in some cases but ordering President Nixon to turn over tapes of his private conversations with his aides (emphasis added; brackets in original):

This presumptive privilege must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law. This is nowhere more profoundly manifest than in our view that "the twofold aim [of criminal justice] is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer."

The administration's position is a direct assault on prosecutorial independence, and an attempt to vest the President with the unchallengeable power to block criminal prosecutions of anyone in the Executive Branch who breaks the law at the President's direction. [...]

In the typical Bush signing statement, the President emphasizes that he will execute laws not only consistent with his claimed executive power (meaning he will ignore the parts of the law which he thinks unduly restrains him), but will also execute the law "consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power." Always lurking at the core of these radical assertions of executive power is the belief that they can defy court orders due to the claimed "constitutional limitations on the judicial power." [...]

There is nothing new here. As has long been known, this administration believes themselves to reside above and beyond the reach of the law. What else would they need to do in order to make that as clear as can be? They got caught red-handed committing multiple felonies -- by eavesdropping on Americans in precisely the way the law we enacted 30 years ago prohibited -- and they not only admitted it, but vowed to continue to break our laws, and asserted the right to do so. And nothing happened.

This latest assertion of power -- to literally block U.S. Attorneys from prosecuting executive branch employees -- is but another reflection of the lawlessness prevailing in our country, not a new revelation. We know the administration breaks laws with impunity and believes it can. That is no longer in question. The only real question is what, if anything, we are willing to do about that. [...]

It has been six months since the Democrats took over Congress. Yes, they have commenced some investigations and highlighted some wrongdoing. But that is but the first step, not the ultimate step, which we desperately need. Where are the real confrontations needed to vindicate the rule of law and restore constitutional order? No reasonable person can dispute that in the absence of genuine compulsion (and perhaps even then), the administration will continue to treat "the law" as something optional, and their power as absolute. Their wrongdoing is extreme, and only equally extreme corrective measures will suffice.

As usual, Glenn is great, and all I can add is that democrats were sent to Washington with two work orders: end the war, and unseat Bush and Cheney. Two-thirds to three-fourths of the country is behind that, and Congressional democrats know it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hack crony creates "duty of rebuttal"

Leopold and Renner:

A federal judge has dismissed the civil lawsuit filed against top Bush administration officials by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The judge, John Bates of the US District Court in Washington, DC is a Bush appointee who previously dismissed a lawsuit filed by the federal government against Vice President Dick Cheney. That suit sought access to Cheney's energy task force documents.

Since his tenure on the federal bench began six years ago, Bates's legal opinions and rulings supporting the administration's executive powers stand in stark contrast to his legal work as an assistant US attorney. He worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr prosecuting President Clinton's Whitewater investment deals. [...]

"When that guy was working for Ken Starr, he wanted to go open the dresser drawers of the White House," Leahy said. "I guess it's a lot different when it's a Republican vice president." [...]

Bates, who was appointed by President Bush in 2001, first came to the public's attention in December 2002 when he dismissed a lawsuit filed against Cheney by the Government Accountability Office that sought access to the vice president's energy task force documents.

In that case, Bates threw out the GAO's lawsuit, stating that the GAO lacked the authority to sue the vice president, a ruling that was criticized by the legal community. On Thursday, Bates dismissed the Wilsons' lawsuit for similar reasons. [...]

Um, excuse me, I'm just a simple guy from Browneye, Nowhere, but it seems to me any grade school pupil would recognize Valerie Plame has actual standing in this case. Unless...court was held under some kind of oppressive despotism...

He wrote that, as a technical legal matter, the Wilsons can't sue under the Constitution. Bates added that the defendants had the right to rebut criticism aimed at the White House by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who accused the administration of twisting prewar Iraq intelligence. He said the leak of Plame's undercover CIA status to a handful of reporters was "unsavory" but simply a casualty of Wilson's criticism of the administration.

"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote. "But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence by speaking with members of the press, is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."

Doggone it, these Bush repressionists, they're just so...official...and technical...and important! I thought a rebuttal was something in a legal document which disproves the other party's assertion. A real judge would know that. Does Bates have a license? Not only does the law not apply to the Bush administration, this judge says they can redefine words and make whole new legal precepts on the fly. Amazing! It's also remarkable that in this case there isn't a problem that the prosecutor and judge were both appointed by this administration, which is also the defendant. It's just so convenient.

CREW and the Wilsons plan to appeal. Anyone taking bets on how that will go, or whether or not Congress will finally address the issue? You can read the ruling here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

So...what's the deal with Iran?

Last September, I shook people up at WotIsItGood4 talking about a preemptive, American, nuclear attack on Iran. I expected the attack in the spring of 2006, and by September I was admittedly surprised the Bush administration hadn't gone ahead and done this idiotic thing. During the last week I searched for current news about the state of things regarding Iran war planning. I learned very little, and that in itself is telling. To summarize: (1) if you want to know the status of the carrier attack groups in the Persian Gulf, you have to dig for it; (2) the killing of Iranians has already begun; although provocative, you can consider the war with Iran as having started; (3) the plan to strafe-bomb Iran with nuclear weapons remains intact, although the government and media are very, very quiet about it; (4) last week the Senate gave the Bush administration authorization to conduct an attack, representing a major turning point in the prewar environment, a fact totally ignored by the mainstream media; and (5) there is good reason to believe another black bag "terrorist" attack is imminent, to justify full-blown war with Iran.

There are other assumptions I drew from the reading, none of which provides reassurance. The people arguing for war fall into some category of special interest: GOP sycophants, Nannies for Israel, war industry proponents and republican presidential candidates who need funding. In spite of the relative silence in the news world, Cheney and others are putting extreme pressure on Bush to move the wholesale destruction of Iran to the front burner.

Before I put in the links, I want to remind you that if I publicly advocated killing a person or persons, or attacking a country for Christ's sake, the police would sweep me up and I'd probably end up in a straitjacket, chained to the floor of a padded cell. That's certainly where such talk belongs—and why public figures talk so freely about mass slaughter and aren't promptly put into solitary, I don't know. We're left to assume widespread death is one of the crown jewels of the current authoritarian federal government. Also, I'm part of the constituency which provides all the personnel and MONEY the government uses, in my name, to conduct these misguided, errant wars. What is planned should be no secret to me. Certainly it's no secret in the Middle East! Yet, I have to dig and dig and can learn very little. From that, I'm left to assume the Bush administration knows these operations, and plans to engage Iran in particular, are illegitimate and will draw widespread opposition, and they just don't want to deal with that.

Sam Brownback:

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 97-0 to pass a resolution sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to censure Iran "for what it said was complicity in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq." The resolution required the Bush administration to regularly report to Congress on Iran's role in Iraq.

While the resolution explicitly rejected authorization for immediate military action, the gist of the resolution declared Iran is participating in acts of war against the United States, thereby laying the foundation for a confrontation with Iran. Newshoggers wrote that the resolution may provide the "political cover for launching a war."

Validating the concern many felt, Sen. Sam Brownback appeared on Fox News shortly after the vote and declared he was ready to preemptively strike Iran. Host Sean Hannity asked Brownback, "There's probably going to come a point for the next president that they're going to have to determine whether to go out and have that preemptive strike. And you're ready and would be ready to do that?"

"Yes, I am, and I think we have to be," Brownback answered. "Sean, if we're going to be serious about this fight, and we're in this fight, and probably for a generation. We're probably in this fight for a generation."

Poor Sam, having to call it a generational war when for the sake of his achieving a satisfactory erection he longs to call it The Thousand Year War. His campaign funding is lagging, and I suppose he hopes this helps. Want to bet it won't?

The Guardian UK, today:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo." [...]

"Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact," said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively. They are also reluctant for Israel to carry out any strikes because the US would get the blame in the region anyway.

"The red line is not in Iran. The red line is in Israel. If Israel is adamant it will attack, the US will have to take decisive action," Mr Cronin said. "The choices are: tell Israel no, let Israel do the job, or do the job yourself."

Seymour Hersh, from an interview with Think Progress:

QUESTION: In dealing with Iran, the U.S. finds itself handicapped at the negotiating table due to a lack of diplomatic dialogue between the countries for so long. What must America do, and who must do it, and who must it work with to diffuse tensions without resorting to military force?

HERSH: Well, you’ve got to have a coup to overthrow this guy. He’s not going to talk to Iranians. I don’t think he is no matter what, and that’s terrifying because the Iranians are more than willing to talk. America is a pretty powerful enemy, and I’ve been writing about this for two years in the New Yorker, and initially, everybody thought it was loony. It’s less loony now. I don’t know how to put it — George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s wet dream is hitting Iran. Maybe I should rephrase that.

No, Sy, sadly you're right—it's all about the penises: flaccid, republican penises, needing the "surge" that comes from blowing innocent people's bodies apart. That's a good article, and it includes video.

I thought a clue might be found regarding how soon a war operation could begin by learning the status of the carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, particularly the USS Nimitz, which was reportedly bristling with nuclear weapons. I read a variety of news stories that listed different carriers in the Gulf. I suppose some reporters think the facts are taboo. Even the U.S. military websites aren't forthcoming, but it's there.

The U.S. Navy:

Release Date: 5/23/2007 7:56:00 AM

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group entered the Persian Gulf May 23. [...]

“We are conducting this training in order to gain valuable experience across a wide spectrum of naval disciplines. This training demonstrates our commitment to security and stability in the Gulf area, and our commitment to regional partners,” said Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet.

The timing of this exercise is determined by the availability of forces, and is not connected to events in the region. The exercise is not directed against any nation.

If you want the real story, go to the source. The good thing about government propaganda is if you assume it's a lie, you find out the truth. Not directed against any nation? Give me a break!

J. Sri Raman for Truthout:

The USS Nimitz and several other American warships left San Diego on April 2 for the Persian Gulf to join another locally based aircraft carrier strike group already in the region. The same USS Nimitz came calling at the port of Chennai (formerly Madras) on the south-eastern coast of India on July 1.

On both occasions, the US Navy refused to rule out the presence of nuclear weapons on board the nuclear-powered vessel. [...]

The ship's visit to Chennai, according to the Navy, attests to the growing vista of "military relations" between the two countries. It is expected to strengthen the US-India "strategic partnership," supposed to have been deepened already by a nuclear "deal." Neither the "partnership" nor the "deal" can reassure either the peace-loving people of India or its neighbors of varying degrees of proximity.

The first reaction here to the news about the impending Nimitz visit was fear of a serious radioactive threat to the teeming millions on the placid shores of the azure and tranquil Bay of Bengal. The apprehensions were not really allayed by the report that a "crisis management group" of India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was "keeping a close watch" on the ship and ready with plans to cope with any "emergency." [...]

The fear was not stilled either when Rear Admiral John Terence Blake, commander of the carrier strike group, told the media: "We can neither confirm, nor deny the presence of weapons on board the ship." He added, without even an attempt at reassurance: "These are warships, not cruise liners. When we go out, we are required to perform a wide range of activities, and these can be offensive or defensive."

There was a possibility, of course, that the port call would pass off without any accident. Nimitz may have really carried no nuclear weapons, though the US Navy seems to claim a right to carry them through international waters. The main danger that the warship's visit posed, however, was the prospect of India becoming a closer strategic partner of the warlords in Washington and the Pentagon.

It was this danger that drew hundreds of protesters to a mass demonstration at the main gate of the Chennai harbor on July 2. The angry Chennai citizens did not stop with asking the Nimitz to go back. They also asked New Delhi why it had reversed its policy of not entertaining ships that could be carrying nukes close to its territorial waters. They asked what India could gain by allying militarily with Bush-led, bloodthirsty warmongers guilty of grisly war crimes. [...]

US Ambassador to India David Mulford has seized the Nimitz-given opportunity to invite India into yet another Bush "initiative" that cannot make this country a darling of the developing world. Said Muford on July 3: "Our collaboration, which the United States runs out of President Bush's Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, will help build crucial capacity for addressing leadership needs for peacekeepers around the world."

The crusade for such "peace," of course, will be incomplete if it does not serve the US corporate interests. From a preacher of "peacekeeping," Mulford took but a moment to turn into a salesman for the military-industrial complex.

Nothing too optimistic about that. Add such concerns to what we already know about the expected Iran war, and you're only limited by the boundaries of the imagination.

Global Research from last September:

The U.S. government and the Pentagon had an active role in graphing, both militarily and politically, the template of confrontation in Lebanon. The Israeli siege against Lebanon is in many regards a dress rehearsal for a planned attack on Iran.

A war against Iran is one that could also include military operations against Syria. Multiple theatres would engulf many of the neighbors of Iran and Syria, including Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

It must also be noted that an attack on Iran would be of a scale which would dwarf the events in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Levant. A full blown war on Iran would not only swallow up and incorporate these other conflicts. It would engulf the entire Middle East and Central Asian region into an extensive confrontation. [...]

The characteristics of such a conflict would also be unpredictable because of Iran's capabilities to respond. And in all likelihood, Iran would launch its own potent attacks and extend the theatre of war by attacking U.S. and American-led troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf.

The United States must also take into account the fact that Iran unlike Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon would be an opponent with the capability to resist the US sponsored attacks on the ground, but also on the sea and in the air.

That article has a great discussion about "the enemy's" targeting capability, and it's chilling stuff. I began my tirade against attacking Iran with an article by Michel Chossudovsky, a recognized scholar on the subject, and you can find an index to his articles with Global Research here.

So, are we close to war with Iran? Closer than you might think.

Chris Floyd:

As you may know – unless you rely on the corporate media for your news, of course – yesterday [Friday, July 13, 2007] the U.S. Senate unanimously declared that Iran was committing acts of war against the United States: a 97-0 vote to give George W. Bush a clear and unmistakable casus belli for attacking Iran whenever Dick Cheney tells him to.

The bipartisan Senate resolution – the brainchild (or rather the bilechild) of Fightin' Joe Lieberman – affirmed as official fact all of the specious, unproven, ever-changing allegations of direct Iranian involvement in attacks on the American forces now occupying Iraq. The Senators appear to have relied heavily on the recent New York Times story by Michael Gordon that stovepiped unchallenged Pentagon spin directly onto the paper's front page. As Firedoglake points out, John McCain cited the heavily criticized story on the Senate floor as he cast his vote.

It goes without saying that all of this is a nightmarish replay of the run-up to the war of aggression against Iraq: The NYT funneling false flag stories from Bush insiders. Warmongers citing the NYT stories as "proof" justifying any and all action to "defend the Homeland." Credulous and craven Democratic politicians swallowing the Bush line hook and sinker.

I removed the live links and want to include some other stuff from it, but you might like to read the whole article. In my eyes, all the democrats in the Senate have blood on their hands now and should be replaced. This is the very thing America sent them to Washington to stop, not endorse.

Juan Cole:

I got the below by anonymous email regarding a German news program last month. Am passing it on not because I buy it or its details but because there is at the least an issue in the Kurdish terrorist groups that are operating from US-occupied Iraq against Iraq's neighbors. The US is not able to stop the PKK from operating against an ally, Turkey, so I don't think it could stop the Iranian Kurdish terrorists, PEJAK, from operating against Iran. But it is also probably true that there are elements in the US military, in the intelligence services, and in the Washington power elite that are connected to PEJAK and are either happy about its activities or subtly enabling them. [...]

"Transcript of TV program on German ARD television, "The Monitor, no. 564, June 21, 2007:

Sertan (a PJAK terrorist): "Three months ago, by using radio-controlled mines (IEDs) we killed 13 to 14 Iranian soldiers". Kurdish terrorists hide in the U.S. protected areas of North-Eastern Iraq. From there, they send fighters over the border into Iran and attack Iranians. In the past two years, they have killed over 200 Iranians."

So, with all this going on, why hasn't the Bush administration just attacked Iran? Apparently they think they need a proper "attention-getter"—they belong in an ad agency, not public service. We seem to be getting hints that attention-getter is forthcoming.


In recent weeks, senior national security officials have been increasingly worried about an al-Qaida attack in the United States.

Appearing on a half-dozen morning TV shows Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff laid out a list of factors contributing to his “gut feeling” that the nation faces a higher risk of attack this summer: al-Qaida’s increased freedom to train in South Asia, a flurry of public statements from the network’s leadership, a history of summertime attacks, a broader range of attacks in North Africa and Europe, and homegrown terrorism increasing in Europe.

Frank Rich:

In this White House, the occasional official who strays off script is in all likelihood inadvertently coughing up the truth.

Mr. Chertoff was promptly hammered for it. His admission of "a gut feeling" that America might be vulnerable to a terrorist attack this summer was universally ridiculed as a gaffe. He then tried to retreat, but as he did so, his dire prognosis was confirmed by an intelligence leak. The draft of a new classified threat assessment found that Al Qaeda has regrouped and is stronger than at any time since 2001. Its operational base is the same ungoverned Pakistan wilderness where we've repeatedly failed to capture Osama bin Laden dead or alive for six years.

Could it be there's more to this "intelligence" than Chertoff's gut allows? Maybe there is.

Keith Olbermann:

Not only did this latest hair-on-fire missive remind us that al-Qaida's re-growth has been along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border; not only did it remind us that your boss let this happen by shifting his resources out of Afghanistan to Iraq for his own vain and foolish purposes, to say nothing of ignoring Pakistan; not only did it underscore the ominous truth that if this country is victimized again by al-Qaida, the personal responsibility for the failure of our misplaced defenses would belong to President Bush and President Bush alone, but on top of all of it, Mr. Chertoff, it revealed you for the phony expert you are - the kid who hears in confidence something smart from somebody smart and then makes his prediction that what the smart kid said confidentially is about to happen.

Woe be to the Bush administration if there is another "terrorist attack," because I sincerely don't think the country will buy it. But, the biggest clue I've seen from the World War Bush™ secret keepers came directly from the horse's ass mouth during the May 24 press conference—you remember it: a bird crapped on Bush. Fox News played this excerpt over and over, and something the text doesn't give you is the shifty look in his eyes, the way his mind seems to be elsewhere as he talks about "bloody August." Sure, he's talking about the war in Iraq and how the September surge assessment might cause additional violence in Iraq in August. But, after seeing the video many times, I got the odd idea he wasn't talking about Iraq at all.

President Dickface answers:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to ask you about the Petraeus report, which as you say, will be in September, and report on the progress. Doesn't setting up the September date give the enemy exactly what you've said you don't want them to have, which is a date to focus on, and doesn't it guarantee a bloody August?

And while I have you, sir, the phrase you just used, "a different configuration in Iraq" that you'd like to see, is that a plan B?

THE PRESIDENT: Actually I would call that a plan recommended by Baker-Hamilton, so that would be a plan BH. I stated -- you didn't like it? (Laughter.)

I've stated this is an idea that I like the concept. The question is, could we get there given the violence last fall, and the answer, in my judgment, was, no, we would never be able to configure our troops that way, in that configuration -- place our troops in that configuration given the violence inside the capital city.

David Petraeus felt like that it was important to tell the White House and tell the Congress that he would come back with an assessment in September. It's his decision to give the assessment, and I respect him and I support him.

Q Do you think --

THE PRESIDENT: It does, precisely. It's going to make -- it could make August a tough month, because you see, what they're going to try to do is kill as many innocent people as they can to try to influence the debate here at home. Don't you find that interesting? I do -- that they recognize that the death of innocent people could shake our will, could undermine David Petraeus's attempt to create a more stable government. They will do anything they can to prevent success. And the reason why is al Qaeda fully understands that if we retreat they, then, are able to have another safe haven, in their mind.

Yesterday, in my speech, I quoted quotes from Osama bin Laden. And the reason I did was, is that I want the American people to hear what he has to say -- not what I say, what he says. And in my judgment, we ought to be taking the words of the enemy seriously.

And so, yes, it could be a bloody -- it could be a very difficult August, and I fully understand --

Blah, blah, blah. Tell the truth for once, you lying liar. What's the real reason for all this carnage?

Chris Floyd:

Homo sapiens is the only species that dreams of its own total demise. Our brief history of conscious thought is replete with vivid scenarios of the end of life on earth....Religion has produced most of these – giddy, voluptuous nightmares of universal extinction, usually by fire, at divine order. A favored remnant is always saved in such tales, of course, but only after being transformed into some different, higher order of being. The gross human body – that bleeding, fouling, endlessly replicating sack of earth – is gleefully consigned to eternal oblivion.

It seems that some ineradicable nihilism pervades us, like a virus, now dormant, now flaring: something in us that wants to die, to be done with the long, overhanging doom of mortality – and to take the world with us. Our grandiose visions of the future seem to hide, at their core, a secret, desperate anxiety about the profound meaninglessness of existence – an anxiety that often disguises itself in elaborate fantasies of the afterlife, in dreams of "dominance" for one's "own kind" (nation, tribe, faith, race, ideology, etc.), or in the eroticizing of death, war and destruction.

Instincts for preservation, sentiments of affection, the drive for pleasure – from the most basic bodily urges to the most sublime creations and apprehensions of the intellect – act as counterweights to this dark virus, of course. They provide for most of us, most of the time, enough fragments of meaning – or at least sufficient distraction – to get on with things, without too much resort to world-engulfing visions or the extremes of nihilistic anxiety.

On the individual level, the calibration of these competing impulses can be intricate, subtle, ever-shifting, because the individual mind is so complex and all-encompassing, yet also so enclosed, so unlockably private as well: an infinitely supple tool for managing the conflicts and contradictions of reality. But on the broader level – species, nation, group – human consciousness is, of necessity, a far more blunt and brutal instrument.

There, our brain-fevers and anxieties rage more virulently, lacking the counterweights of individual feeling and the quick, intimate responsiveness of the private mind. In the group-mind, the fantasies that root in the muddy fear of meaninglessness can emerge full-blown. Thought and discourse are reduced to broad strokes, slogans, codes and incantations, with little correspondence to reality. Awareness of this tendency can mitigate some of its effects; but the group-mind's fundamental falsity and irreality almost invariably infects the thoughts and actions of group leaders – and eventually many of the group members as well.

Thus we can sometimes say, not entirely metaphorically, that nations "go mad," hurtling themselves toward ruin, embracing self-destruction, lusting for violence and death, sick with nihilism – although this sickness is always painted in the colors of patriotic fervor or religious zeal, or both…

Now draw these dangerous streams together, and you have a portrait of the blunt and brutal group-mind at work in the leadership of the world's most powerful nation. The folly, fantasy and death-fetish of the Bush Regime – long evident to anyone who cared to see – were finally "revealed" in the mainstream media recently by the quasi-official Establishment oracle, Bob Woodward. His latest insider portrait, Plan of Attack, offers – in the usual, easily-gummed pabulum form – a few tastes of the bitter truth behind the Regime's mad, ruinous war crime in Iraq.

The corrosive nihilism at the heart of the enterprise ate through the gaudily-painted surface most tellingly in a single anecdote. Woodward asks George W. Bush how he thinks history will regard his adventure in Iraq. Bush, gazing out the window, shrugs and waves the question away. "History, we don't know," he says. "We'll all be dead." No fine, faith-filled talk here about God and Jesus and the immortal soul responsible for its actions throughout all eternity – the kind of zealous patter Bush favors in public statements. This was just the cold, rotten, meaningless core of his grand vision: "We'll all be dead." So who cares? Après moi, le deluge.

So, there you have it. Maybe war with Iran will never happen. Maybe Bush will initiate it the last week of his presidency. Or, maybe it will start next month with the death of thousands of unsuspecting Americans on native soil, blamed on Iranian fanatics. Signs certainly point that way, and all brought to you by the animal instincts of blithering idiots. But you can't know how your money and life will be spent, because that, my friends, is a secret.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fuzzy, the proper patriot

Take a good, long look in the eyes of a patriot. You can see he's indignant—and well he should be. You see, the executive branch of his fair country has so exceeded its enumerated authorities, it is unrecognizable as its former, glorious self. Fuzzy is like Congress as it should be.

Enter the executive branch, an annoying, little brown mockingbird named BushandCheney. Weeks ago, Fuzzy had the foresight to devour its young—evil devil-spawn destined for a life of screeching, dive bombing and excreting. Fuzzy dragged them inside and dismembered them. He clawed and chewed them until nothing was left but a slight length of intestine. Fuzzy's daddy cleaned it up, because he understood it was done for the common good.

BushandCheney was absolutely incensed, and made a full-time occupation of circling about, clucking its disdain and crapping all over the place. It would land on the porch railing, mere inches away from Fuzzy and his brother lying quietly sunning, minding their own business, harping about executive privilege and the need to move along. BushandCheney would dive bomb the two kitty cats, pecking and wounding them. And as the weeks went by, this disorderly conduct by the little brown drama queen became more of an outrage by the hour. But, the two cats pretended to ignore BushandCheney, confident in the knowledge that one day this would pass. Wise Fuzzy was unrepentent about the origin of the nasty vermin's fury.

This morning, it all came to an end, as we knew it would. BushandCheney got a little too close to Fuzzy and, failing to take into account the strength and sharpness of his claws, was snatched from the air with the cat's single swipe and hideous trumpeting from the little shit brown drama queen vermin bird. There he stood, ever so nonchalant, the always ill-fated victim between his teeth. He dropped it to the ground—it flapped and tried to escape, and he was on it again. As it heaved its last, Fuzzy's brother picked it up, took it under the house and it was not seen or heard from again.

Updated 6/12/14: Fuzzy was abducted and killed by my serial killing neighbors, the maniacal Bennett Animal Dump Family. The town's ordinances and "leaders" support this practice. I'd had him since he was about five weeks old. He had attained the age of nine years.

Work in progress

Don't you love this blog? Immediately after making the last post, all hell broke loose here at the fabulous Manatee Cat Diner. The girl next door was being strangled by her boyfriend as the daily thunderstorm erupted. I dragged her outside and told him to get lost, then called the police. They arrested him down the road for DUI and assault, so he's in plenty of trouble. Then, I heard a cat crying and managed to lure this little female with a bowl of food as the sky dumped rain. Yesterday was the 36th consecutive day of rain in our state; actually, the ground hasn't been dry for four months, which is something I've never seen. Drought conditions have persisted here for the last 30 years; so, when Jim Inhofe says climate change is a myth, you can know he's suffering from a defect in perception.

Anyway, I got back inside about 3 a.m., soaking wet as was this kitten. She's five or six weeks old and was suffering from full conjunctivitis. I got some medicine from the vet which she refuses to let me administer, so sister-in-law Janet comes and wraps her in a beach towel like a little kitty mummy and forcibly administers the goo and drops. The cat is feeling much better and keeps me awake all night attacking my toes, feet, legs and ass. I named her Mimi. Next week I expect to get Mimi vaccinated and fixed (hopefully), and then she'll be up for adoption, although she is pretty nice and despite the fact the other two cats don't like the way she's taken over the house, I might keep her if a suitable home doesn't present itself.

I'm working on a couple projects for your reading pleasure. One is the state of readiness for war with Iran. I've dug for material all week for the story, and all I can say is while it should be readily available, the people who know aren't saying much. I learned there were seven (wow) carrier groups doing exercises in the Persian Gulf in 2004. There are supposed to be three now, but I'm having a hard time determining exactly which ones they are. How they are equipped is a bigger question, but there are definite suggestions the armament they carry should have everyone's hair standing on end.

Fortunately, the conservative movement has been dumbing down the world since the 1970s, or people would be curious about it and insisting on putting an end to it, along with demanding the heads of guys like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gates. The news has been kind of interesting the past week, but it seemed like a rehash of the same old nonsense. If you get a chance, try to catch Bill Moyer's Journal regarding impeachment, which is new. It's pretty good. I don't know if we'll actually get to impeachment, and the longer we don't the more I wonder why not.