2007 was a year of extreme weather records, and 2008 could be worse, for example an unrelenting southeast drought could be devastating. 2008 will also be Bush's last year, and as the evidence for global warming mounts, Bush's agenda appears to be greening. "If global warming turns out to be a defining issue of this generation, advisers said, Bush does not want to be remembered as a roadblock."
Secrecy no more? The first major overhaul of the Freedom of Information act in years is awaiting President Bush's signature. It will finally create an "independent" government agency to handle to disputes between records holders and information requesters. The passage of the act comes after, ironically, after an Arizona senator used a "secret hold" to block the bill. He was ferreted out by a group of journalists.
George W. Bush covers John Lennon's War Is Over (If You Want It) in a collaboration with Wax Audio. Another coverversion of John Lennon's God is included on the B-side of the new limited edition 45. On the other hand, Yoko sez, "Vote Kucinich!" (previously on Mefi)
Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today. The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue was an animated drug prevention television special starring many popular cartoon characters from American Saturday morning television. Airing in 1990 and financed by McDonald's, it was simulcast on all three major American television networks. The VHS home video edition of the special also opened with an introduction from then-President George Bush Snr and Barbara Bush. And thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, you can watch the whole thing here. And you really should. After all, where else are you going to get to hear cartoon characters like Garfield and Winnie the Pooh talking about smoking crack and shooting juice? [more inside]
The 30-Second Senate Session: In order to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, the U.S. Senate will technically stay open over the Thanksgiving holiday. The result? A U.S. Senate session that lasts, gavel-to-gavel, exactly 30 seconds.
The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. "The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup." [Via Firedoglake.]
Gallup: Bush 'strongly disapprove' 50% > Nixon 48% Gallup notes that the two ratings are statistically equivalent. A newspaper industry site noted it, and Raw Story, while Uruknet (which is not unbiased) felt the story was under-reported.
A top immigration official has apologized after awarding 'most original costume' to a Homeland Security Department employee who dressed in prison stripes, dreadlocks and dark makeup for a Halloween gathering at the agency. [more inside]
Like a windshield cowboy ... never ridden on a house says the guy from Mexico ... Vincente Fox also says Bush is "quite simply the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life". Interestingly though, around the world this story is reported differently. In India he is "petrified of horses", while Germany just says he's scared. It seems most American news just covers it as "doesn't like horses". As the real cowboys I grew up with would say "all hat, no horse".
Iraq was just the beginning. According to retired General Wesley Clark, a top-secret memo detailed a plan for “taking out” seven countries in five years, ending with Iran. [more inside]
Who's soft on terrorism? Surely not the Democrats, who are about to enable the National Security Agency to extend its secret domestic wiretapping program after saying otherwise for months. Surely not the Republican White House, determined to rush out a new Osama bin Laden video even if it burns an intelligence connection spying on Al Qaeda that has been carefully cultivated for years.
Secret U. S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations. The New York Times has a 4000-word report today on secret Justice Department opinions--never previously disclosed--authorizing severe interrogation methods. Congress has outlawed cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; in response, Justice declared that the CIA's most extreme interrogation methods are not cruel, inhuman, and degrading. These secret opinions, issued in 2005, are still in effect. Most lawmakers did not know they existed. White House response: "This country does not torture."
"War Made Easy" A Movie On How Government Deception and the Conservative Media (includeds NYT & NPR, national pentagon radio) has fostered War.
“War Made Easy" is a documentary with Sean Penn narrating, and is based on a book by Norman Solomon . This is an award winning expose on how the American Public has been led into a 50-year pattern of government deception and spin, dragging the United States from one war into another. Remarkably this film exhumes archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations. Brutally persuasive this film presents disturbing examples of propaganda from those we want to believe in.
Allí, ese 16 de marzo, Bush, Blair y Aznar decidieron sustituir al Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas y usurparon sus funciones para declarar por su cuenta y riesgo la guerra contra Irak.
Bush and Aznar pre-Iraq Invasion-- Transcript of their private conversations in Crawford, Feb 22, 2003: "Quedan dos semanas. En dos semanas estaremos militarmente listos. Estaremos en Bagdad a finales de marzo", le dijo a Aznar. ("2 weeks. In 2 weeks we will be ready militarily. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March", he told Aznar.) Consider this historical documentation. Full transcript here, and audio clips in first link. [more inside]
General Strike. Garret Keizer has an idea. It's really not so outlandish. But of course it won't do any good.
How George Bush became the new Saddam. "Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen." [Via Firedoglake.]
shock doctrine at work
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
Since the revelation that the telecommunications companies assisted in illegal spying on domestic phone calls, a host of lawsuits have sprung up seeking damages for civil liberties violations. The Bush administration has responded by seeking the power to grant blanket immunity to criminal and civil action to the companies involved. The claim that the suits could bankrupt the companies indicates that the spying was even more widespread than previously believed; If Verizon is worth $120,000,000,000, then given the estimate of $1000 per violation, one hundred and twenty million calls were spied upon.
Death Grip: How Political Psychology Explains Bush's Ghastly Success. Interesting article on the work of psychologists Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski. [Via Disinformation.]
President Bush touched down in New Orleans at 7:11 p.m. this evening The 84-year-old Chase sat close to the president and accepted his praise for the meal of jambalaya, stewed okra and gumbo z'herb, an all-greens gumbo that's a tradition at Chase's Holy Thursday dinners.
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East. A speech by Juan Cole at the New America Foundation in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic.
The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
Karl Rove Resigns. The man known as “Bush's Brain” and whom Frontline called “The Architect” will leave office at the end of August.
Why Does AT&T Hate Pearl Jam’s Freedom? Well, of course, they’re all apologies now… But this latest corporate misadventure seems to touch on all the hot buttons: Media consolidation, net neutrality and the future of political speech in America. (Newsfilter)
It's All Because. Have you ever had those days where you're wondering just why everything about your life is feeling like it's going down the toilet bowl? Oded Gross knows, and he will tell you all about it. In a song.
Do the Coup D'etat. The White House has made the Constitutional Crisis official: the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges against an official invoking executive privilege -- even if it's blatantly illegal.
It's been said before that the US Army is broken: in April, last December by Colin Powell and Pat Buchanan, by the head of the Army Reserve in 2005, by several generals as far back as 2004. But now, even as another Republican senator, Domenici, joins Warner, Voinovich, and Lugar in abandoning support for Bush's War, Joe Klein in Time Magazine says the end is inevitable, regardless of what politicians want:
According to the Broken Army clock, troop levels will begin to wane in March 2008, no matter what Congress decides in September; the current 20 brigade combat teams will be reduced to 15 by August 2008. There is growing speculation in the military that Bush will try to pre-empt the Petraeus testimony by announcing a gradual drawdown from 20 to 15 combat brigades later this summer.
On June 13th Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., issued subpoenas to two former White House officials compelling them to provide testimony and related information as part of ongoing congressional investigations into the mass firings of well-performing federal prosecutors and the politicization of hiring and firing within the Department of Justice. Today is the deadline for handing over the requested information and the Whitehouse has stated that it will not be complying with the request.
On the heal of her husbands fairly recent op-ed in WSJ, Laura Bush writes her own op-ed (subscription possibly required) about the whole Burma situation (or Myanmar) of all topics. Why did she do it? The Huffington Post speculates.
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast", and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press.
President Bush received a hero's welcome on a recent trip to Albania. This has been the first time a serving U.S. President has visited the country, and it's probably the first time a president has had his wristwatch stolen while shaking hands.
Beyond Bush: What the world needs is an open, confident America. An interesting article from Zakaria Fareed.
Fascinating feature on Blair's farewell tour by Martin Amis. Accompanying video essays. Highlights include a visit to the Green Zone in Baghdad (which "resembles the embassy district of a minor South American capital after a period of immiseration and collapse"), a comparison of Presidential vs. Prime Ministerial motorcades, and a few candid reflections from Blair.
The Bush administration has vowed that it will fight to keep meatpackers from voluntarily testing all of their cows for mad cow disease. Currently, the Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows. Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of their cows, but larger meat companies have objected, fearing that they might need to test their own cows to stay competitive. The Agriculture Department has also argued that potential false positives could harm the meat industry. Meanwhile, the president, under pressure from the cattle industry, is serving more beef to various visiting foreign statesemen and lamenting that mad cow fears are preventing the Chinese from enjoying American beef: “They need to be eating US beef. It's good for them. They'll like it.” When China rejects our food, shouldn’t we be worried?
It's official. On May 9th, Bush issued NSPD 51, an "explicit embrace of what has been since 9/11 an implicit but fairly clear set of assumptions," i.e. George is the Decider and he has decided to strengthen the National
Business Continuity Policy within the next 90 days.
The US pays Pakistan $1 billion a year to fight al Qaeda, but Pakistan doesn't do much fighting. Iraq is a "a big moneymaker" for al Qaeda, and al Qaeda's leadership may be stronger than ever.
[more War on Terror inside]
[more War on Terror inside]
"War Czar" -- another term for "highly paid radio operator"? So the Decider in Chief wants to have a War Czar* in the White House. He appointed Douglas Lute after three other general officers turned him down. Note that Lute, a three-star general, is actually inferior in rank to David Petraeus, the four-star who's commanding the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Black Five had some thoughts on this, as did Jules Crittenden.
Comey made frantic calls to his own chief of staff and to Robert Mueller, then FBI director, while he raced to the hospital, sirens blasting. He sprinted up the stairs of the hospital to get to Ashcroft's room before Gonzales and Card did. . . . "I couldn't stay if the White House was engaging in conduct that had no legal basis." Comey testifies that there was something of a line to resign that day: Mueller; then Comey's chief of staff; and then Ashcroft's chief of staff—who asked only that Comey wait until "Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me."A
Absoluelty riveting, it reads like a tale out of paperback thriller: in a darkened hospital room, a White House consigliere barges past the sick man's wife, and demands the disoriented Attorney General official sign a paper.
"First, they tried to coerce a man in intensive care -- a man so sick he had transferred the reins of power to Mr. Comey -- to grant them legal approval. Having failed, they were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice's authorization." I'm waiting for the movie, but you can watch the video now.