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Democracy has been taken for granted at a time when it is most endangered. Neo-Conservatives are organized to replace it with oligarchy, to replace consent for the rule of law with fascistic allegiance to the executive branch disguised as "patriotism." As a team made up of a political philosopher and a writer, we consider otherwise repressed information from a critical perspective in the hope of elevating the quality of our political dialogue so that it is worthy of a truly democratic society.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

RUMSFELD SHAKING THE HAND OF AN EVIL, BRUTAL DICTATOR

Again, thanks to Ed Kohler for the link.

www.mywebpages.comcast.net/atrios/rumsfeld-saddam.jpg


THE WISDOM OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS

"In wartime, there is literally no other end but war, and the objector, therefore, lives no longer with a choice of alternatives. The pacifist conscience attaches itself to no end because no end exists which connects with its desires. Plans and programs may exist which have not to do with war, but they exist only in the realm of fantasy, not in the realm of practical politics. Peace comes through victory or exhaustion, and not through creative intelligence. The appeal to force removes everything authomatically to a non-intelligent sphere of thinking and acting ...

"One may find forces moving against the war, resisting the organization for war, agitating for a speedy peace. But such forces are not merely alternative social policies. They are not morally equivalent to the policy of war. They have the unique quality of disloyalty. They challenge the entire force of the nation. As soon as they threaten to become at all effective, they are automatically crushed out, under even the most democratic of governments. Never has a constitution in wartime been known to refuse the use of relentless coercion against 'forces moving in another direction.' The attaching of one's conscience to any such forces is infallibly taken to be the allying of oneself with the disloyal, and the inadvertent aiding of the nation's enemies ... One resists or one obeys. If one resists, one is martyred or coerced. If one obeys, the effect is just as if one accepted the war...

"War is just that absolute situation which is its own and and its own means, and which speedily outstrips the power of intelligent and creative control. As long as you are out of war, events remain to some degree malleable ... But clamp down the psychic pattern of war on the nation, and you have precipitated an absolute where mastery becomes a mockery."

--- Randolph Bourne, "Conscience and Intelligence in War" (1917)

GW BUSH: FLIP-FLOPPER IN CHIEF

Thanks to Ed Kohler for the links.

President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief

June 1, 2004

From the beginning, George W. Bush has made his own credibility a central issue. On 10/11/00, then Governor Bush said: "I think credibility is important. It is going to be important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations." But President Bush's serial flip-flopping raises serious questions about whether Congress and foreign leaders can rely on what he says.

1. OPEC



BUSH PROMISES TO FORCE OPEC TO LOWER PRICES..."What I think the president ought to do [when gas prices spike] is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots...And the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price." [President Bush, 1/26/00]



...BUSH REFUSES TO LOBBY OPEC LEADERS With gas prices soaring in the United States at the beginning of 2004, the Miami Herald reported the president refused to "personally lobby oil cartel leaders to change their minds." [Miami Herald, 4/1/04]



2. Iraq Funding



BUSH SPOKESMAN DENIES NEED FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR THE REST OF 2004..."We do not anticipate requesting supplemental funding for '04" [White House Budget Director Joshua Bolton, 2/2/04]



…BUSH REQUESTS ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR IRAQ FOR 2004 “I am requesting that Congress establish a $25 billion contingency reserve fund for the coming fiscal year to meet all commitments to our troops.” [President Bush, Statement by President, 5/5/04]



3. Condoleeza Rice Testimony



BUSH SPOKESMAN SAYS RICE WON'T TESTIFY AS 'A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE'...“Again, this is not her personal preference; this goes back to a matter of principle. There is a separation of powers issue involved here. Historically, White House staffers do not testify before legislative bodies. So it's a matter of principle, not a matter of preference.” [White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, 3/9/04]



…BUSH ORDERS RICE TO TESTIFY: “Today I have informed the Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States that my National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, will provide public testimony.” [President Bush, 3/30/04]



4. Science



BUSH PLEDGES TO ISSUE REGULATIONS BASED ON SCIENCE..."I think we ought to have high standards set by agencies that rely upon science, not by what may feel good or what sounds good." [then-Governor George W. Bush, 1/15/00]



...BUSH ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS IGNORE SCIENCE "60 leading scientists—including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents—issued a statement calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking. According to the scientists, the Bush administration has, among other abuses, suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels." [Union of Concerned Scientists, 2/18/04]



5. Ahmed Chalabi



BUSH INVITES CHALABI TO STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS...President Bush also met with Chalabi during his brief trip to Iraq last Thanksgiving [White House Documents 1/20/04, 11/27/03]



...BUSH MILITARY ASSISTS IN RAID OF CHALABI'S HOUSE"U.S. soldiers raided the home of America's one-time ally Ahmad Chalabi on Thursday and seized documents and computers." [Washington Post, 5/20/04]

6. Department of Homeland Security

BUSH OPPOSES THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY..."So, creating a Cabinet office doesn't solve the problem. You still will have agencies within the federal government that have to be coordinated. So the answer is that creating a Cabinet post doesn't solve anything." [White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 3/19/02]

...BUSH SUPPORTS THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY "So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people." [President Bush, Address to the Nation, 6/6/02]

7. Weapons of Mass Destruction

BUSH SAYS WE FOUND THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION..."We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories…for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." [President Bush, Interview in Poland, 5/29/03]

...BUSH SAYS WE HAVEN'T FOUND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION "David Kay has found the capacity to produce weapons. And when David Kay goes in and says we haven't found stockpiles yet, and there's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we'll find out." [President Bush, Meet the Press, 2/7/04]

8. Free Trade

BUSH SUPPORTS FREE TRADE... "I believe strongly that if we promote trade, and when we promote trade, it will help workers on both sides of this issue." [President Bush in Peru, 3/23/02]

...BUSH SUPPORTS RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE "In a decision largely driven by his political advisers, President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year and imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel to help out struggling mills in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states crucial for his reelection." [Washington Post, 9/19/03]

9. Osama Bin Laden

BUSH WANTS OSAMA DEAD OR ALIVE... "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [President Bush, on Osama Bin Laden, 09/17/01]

...BUSH DOESN'T CARE ABOUT OSAMA “I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him… I truly am not that concerned about him.” [President Bush, Press Conference, 3/13/02]

10. The Environment

BUSH SUPPORTS MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE... "[If elected], Governor Bush will work to…establish mandatory reduction targets for emissions of four main pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide." [Bush Environmental Plan, 9/29/00]

...BUSH OPPOSES MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE "I do not believe, however, that the government should impose on power plants mandatory emissions reductions for carbon dioxide, which is not a 'pollutant' under the Clean Air Act." [President Bush, Letter to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 3/13/03]

11. WMD Commission

BUSH RESISTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE... "The White House immediately turned aside the calls from Kay and many Democrats for an immediate outside investigation, seeking to head off any new wide-ranging election-year inquiry that might go beyond reports already being assembled by congressional committees and the Central Intelligence Agency." [NY Times, 1/29/04]

...BUSH SUPPORTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE "Today, by executive order, I am creating an independent commission, chaired by Governor and former Senator Chuck Robb, Judge Laurence Silberman, to look at American intelligence capabilities, especially our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction." [President Bush, 2/6/04]

12. Creation of the 9/11 Commission

BUSH OPPOSES CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush took a few minutes during his trip to Europe Thursday to voice his opposition to establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before Sept. 11." [CBS News, 5/23/02]

...BUSH SUPPORTS CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION "President Bush said today he now supports establishing an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." [ABC News, 09/20/02]

13. Time Extension for 9/11 Commission

BUSH OPPOSES TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have decided to oppose granting more time to an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." [Washington Post, 1/19/04]

...BUSH SUPPORTS TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION "The White House announced Wednesday its support for a request from the commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks for more time to complete its work." [CNN, 2/4/04]

14. One Hour Limit for 9/11 Commission Testimony

BUSH LIMITS TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF 9/11 COMMISSION TO ONE HOUR... "President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday." [NY Times, 2/26/04]

...BUSH SETS NO TIMELIMIT FOR TESTIMONY "The president's going to answer all of the questions they want to raise. Nobody's watching the clock." [White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 3/10/04]

15. Gay Marriage

BUSH SAYS GAY MARRIAGE IS A STATE ISSUE... "The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into." [Gov. George W. Bush on Gay Marriage, Larry King Live, 2/15/00]

...BUSH SUPPORTS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BANNING GAY MARRIAGE "Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." [President Bush, 2/24/04]

16. Nation Building

BUSH OPPOSES NATION BUILDING... "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road." [Gov. George W. Bush, 10/3/00]

...BUSH SUPPORTS NATION BUILDING "We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people." [President Bush, 3/6/03]

17. Saddam/al Qaeda Link

BUSH SAYS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEEN AL QAEDA AND SADDAM... "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror." [President Bush, 9/25/02]

...BUSH SAYS SADDAM HAD NO ROLE IN AL QAEDA PLOT "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11." [President Bush, 9/17/03]

18. U.N. Resolution

BUSH VOWS TO HAVE A UN VOTE NO MATTER WHAT... "No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam." [President Bush 3/6/03]

...BUSH WITHDRAWS REQUEST FOR VOTE "At a National Security Council meeting convened at the White House at 8:55 a.m., Bush finalized the decision to withdraw the resolution from consideration and prepared to deliver an address to the nation that had already been written." [Washington Post, 3/18/03]

19. Involvement in the Palestinian Conflict

BUSH OPPOSES SUMMITS... "Well, we've tried summits in the past, as you may remember. It wasn't all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened, and as a result we had significant intifada in the area." [President Bush, 04/05/02]

...BUSH SUPPORTS SUMMITS "If a meeting advances progress toward two states living side by side in peace, I will strongly consider such a meeting. I'm committed to working toward peace in the Middle East." [President Bush, 5/23/03]

20. Campaign Finance

BUSH OPPOSES MCCAIN-FEINGOLD... "George W. Bush opposes McCain-Feingold...as an infringement on free expression." [Washington Post, 3/28/2000]

...BUSH SIGNS MCCAIN-FEINGOLD INTO LAW "[T]his bill improves the current system of financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into law." [President Bush, at the McCain-Feingold signing ceremony, 03/27/02]




REPUBLICAN ONE-DIMENSIONALITY AD NAUSEUM

Tuesday of this week, dep. Sec. of Defense Wolfowitz appeared before before the House Armed Services Committee and hypothesized that US troops could remain in Iraq "for years." Although the admission is long overdue, i found myself angrily jotting out points of response to the characterization of Iraq as an extension of the war on terrorism. I only have a few minutes, but here goes:

1. Terrorism in Iraq is a result of the Iraq war, not the justification for it.

This war was waged under false pretenses, primarily WMDs, and we knew before the invasion that the connection to terrorist groups was highly dubious. Other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere sport far more direct links to Al Quaeda and other such organizations. To the extent that this was sold to us as part of the "war on terrorism," the Bush administration manipulated the American public for the purpose of ending the decade-long lockdown on Iraq which was increasingly falling out of favor with the world community.

2. The doctrine of pre-emption has failed us here.

The essence of law is its universality. If we wage preemptive wars in order to prevent the possibility of a future attack without an enemy presenting an immanent threat, then legallythere is no barrier to any country responding in like manner to a threat real or perceived. The Iraqi insurgency is responding to an occupation which it perceives as aggressive, economically and religiously driven, and which has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

3. Republicans refer to the stupidest rhetoric in the face of criticism.

This is not a religious war against Mohammed that began five thousand years ago. It is not a war against tribalism or barbarism. It is not helpful much less accurate to articulate the terms of the war effort according to an ontology of evil. It obscures the history of our own manipulative foreign policy in the Middle East. Saddam was our man when he committed the crimes that Republicans refer to as the justification for removing him. We played Iraq and Iran against one another, and looked the other way as he butchered his citizens, and while the Iranians and the Iraqis butchered each other with the weapons we sold to both of them. Our falling out with Saddam began with the nationalization of the oil reserves and his refusal to follow through with the proposed pipeline that the US (including Rumsfeld) was trying to negotiate. These Bush boys are old cold-warriors, and the Cold War was a contest for economic hegemony between the US and the USSR. If you forget that, you are an embarrassment. If you fail to disclose that, you are a liar.

4. Waging a war for the sake of the war is not a sustainable practice.

Republicans don't seem to have any conception of the fact that we can continue to fight as long as we want, but will surely fail if we don't have an accurate reckoning of what the cost will be. By choosing some ends, we must necessarily throw other ends overboard. What will we go without so that we can remain in Iraq for years? There is no point in supporting the war because you love bush - support should be based on a reasoned account of the costs, not on your fucked-up neo-con ideology. When you look at the costs in REAL terms, what are you willing to sacrifice in terms of public needs and goods in order to stroke your wounded sense of nationalism and once again feel like you're powerful because you live in the country that can kick the most ass in the world? Think hard, because we will have to come to terms with the consequences of our choices.

I'm surprised Wolfowitz didn't earmark part of the nearly $200 billion we've spent so far on florists so that the Iraqis can finally throw those flowers at the feet of our troops as he predicted as recently as last year.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

REAGAN'S SON REFUSES TO ALLOW DUBYA TO CLOAK HIMSELF IN RONNIE'S MANTLE

Reagan blasts Bush - "My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush," says the former president's son

by David Talbot
salon.com

"My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush," says the former president's son, in a flame-throwing conversation about the war and the Bush administration's efforts to lay claim to the Reagan legacy.

April 14, 2003 "Salon.com" -- The Bush inner circle would like to think of George W.'s presidency as more of an extension of Ronald Reagan's than of his one-term father's. Reagan himself, who has long suffered from Alzheimer's disease, is unable to comment on those who lay claim to his political legacy. But his son, Ron Jr., is -- and he's not pleased with the association.

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," he said during a recent interview with Salon. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

Reagan spoke with Salon from his home in Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Doria, a psychologist. A former ballet dancer ("At 45, I'm afraid those days are over"), he has worked in recent years as a magazine journalist and a TV personality, currently hosting dog shows for the Animal Planet network ("I live 'Best in Show'"). He and Doria have three cats, but no children ("They're like kids, without the tuition"). Though he never followed his father into politics, Reagan takes a strong interest in public issues, serving on the board of the Creative Coalition, an organization founded in 1989 by performers like Susan Sarandon and Christopher Reeve to politically mobilize entertainers and artists. Reagan recently moderated a Creative Coalition panel discussion in San Francisco on the topic of free expression during wartime, featuring Alec Baldwin on the left and Michael Medved on the right (and a smoldering Sean Penn in the audience).

Reagan, still as lean as he was in his dancing days, has a sharp tongue -- but like his father, he has a knack for softening his barbs with a charming affability and disarming sense of humor.

Reagan took a swipe at Bush during the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia, which featured a tribute to his father, telling the Washington Post's Lloyd Grove, "The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job... What's his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?" Since then he's been quiet about the current occupant of the White House -- until now.

Some observers have compared Bush's persona as an intellectually challenged but politically gifted leader to that of Reagan. But the younger Reagan vehemently rejects the analogy. "The gunslinging cowboy, the actor who just read his lines -- that stereotype doesn't fit who my father really was.

"My father had decades of experience in public life. He was president of his union, he campaigned for presidential candidates, he served two terms as governor of California -- and that was not a ceremonial office as it is in Texas. And he had already run for president, against Ford in '76, nearly unseating the sitting president in his own party. He knew where he was coming from, he had spent years thinking and speaking about his views. He didn't have to ask Dick Cheney what he thought.

"Sure, he wasn't a technocrat like Clinton. But my father was a man -- that's the difference between him and Bush. To paraphrase Jack Palance, my father crapped bigger ones than George Bush."

Reagan says he doesn't have anything personal against Bush. He met him only once, at a White House event during the Reagan presidency. "At least my wife insists we did -- he left absolutely no impression on me. But Doria remembers him very negatively -- I can't repeat what she said about him, I'd rather not use profanity. I do remember Jeb -- a big fella, seemed to be the brightest of the bunch. And of course their parents were very charming."

But Reagan has strong feelings about Bush's policies, including the war in Iraq, which he ardently opposes. "Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda -- and they didn't hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, 'Let's hit Iraq.' They've used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling."

Of course, Reagan's father was also known for his military buildup and aggressive foreign policy. "Yes," he concedes, "there are some holdovers from my dad's years, like Elliott Abrams and, my God, Admiral Poindexter, who's now keeping watch over us all. But that observation doesn't hold up. My father gave a speech a couple years after he left the White House calling for 'an international army of conscience' to deal with failed states where atrocities are taking place. He had no thought that America should be the world's policeman. I know that for a fact from conversations I had with him. He believed there must be an international force to intervene where great human tragedy was occurring. Rwanda would have been a prime example, where a strike force capable of acting quickly could have gone in to stop the slaughter.

"Now George and Dick and Rummy and Wolfy all have a very different idea about America's role in the world. It was laid out by [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz back in '92 -- Iraq is the center of the Middle East, its axis, and it's of such geo-strategic importance that we can't leave it in the hands of Saddam. We need to forcibly change that regime and use Iraq as a forward base for American democracy, setting up a domino effect in the region, and so on. My father, on the other hand, was well aware of the messiness of the Middle East, particularly after [the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in] Lebanon."

Reagan says his opinions about the war were not changed by the rapid fall of Baghdad. "Look, whether or not Saddam was a bad guy, or whether the Iraqi people were terribly oppressed, was never the issue. I mean I'm happy for the Iraqis, but that's not what this was all about. Nor was the military conclusion ever in doubt; this was the Dallas Cowboys playing a high school team. Their army was a third the size it was in '91, and it didn't give us much trouble then.

"And the weapons of mass destruction? Whatever happened to them? I'm sure we'll find some," he laughs. "They're being flown in right now in a C-130.

"There were, and will be, a lot of people killed over there. And if you don't care about the Iraqi casualties, what about the American? We stand to lose more people in the next months of occupation than we lost in the weeks of war. One of the reasons we escaped largely unscathed so far was because our military moved so fast. But now we're sitting targets -- we have to establish bases, patrol the streets, guard checkpoints. We're sitting targets for suicide bombers and other terrorists."

Reagan's parents were notoriously remote from their four children. Ron Jr. reportedly had the closest relations with his parents and he remains close with his mother, Nancy Reagan, who as the keeper of the Reagan flame is often called upon to dedicate public sites bearing her husband's name. Reagan says his mother shares his "distrust of some of these [Bush] people. She gets that they're trouble in all kinds of ways. She doesn't like their religious fervor, their aggression."

Reagan says his family feels particularly alienated from the Republican Party over its opposition to embryonic stem cell research, which could have significant benefit for Alzheimer patients like his father. "Now ignorance is one thing, ignorance can be cured. But many of the Republican leaders opposing this research know better, people like [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist, who's a doctor, for God's sake. People like him are blocking it to pander to the 20 percent of their base who are mouth-breathers. And that's unconscionable -- there are lives at stake here. Stem cell research can revolutionize medicine, more than anything since antibiotics."

Reagan, who says the label "progressive" would fit him, does not belong to a political party. "I'm certainly not a Republican; I couldn't belong to any party that had leaders like Tom DeLay. And the Democrats are too busy trying to out-Republican the Republicans."

His father entered politics at a relatively late stage in his life, after careers as a sports broadcaster, actor and General Electric pitchman. Has Reagan ever considered running for office? No, he insists, "I have no political ambitions. For one thing, I'm not interested in raising all that money. It's just not the life I want to lead. When is the last time you heard a politician speak his mind? McCain? Yes, he came close. But I once asked him at a Creative Coalition meeting, 'You talk passionately about this nexus of money and influence that is corrupting our democracy. Why don't you name names?' His response was a demurral.

"I have no problem with public service. And yes, better people should be running for office. But personally I just can't see myself doing it, to live in Washington D.C., the whole package. I was immersed in that my whole life. I saw politicians up close and there were so many who just repulsed me."

What if a group of concerned citizens approached him and helped raise money for his entry into politics -- would that make a difference? "You mean like they did with George W.? 'Hey, you've got name recognition, that's all that matters -- we'll give you millions of dollars to run!' Imagine coming to a man with just two years' experience in public office, and a ceremonial one at that. Imagine installing such a blank slate in the presidency of the United States! This is a regency, not a presidency.

"And they told us, 'Don't worry about W. not knowing anything, good old Dick Cheney will be his minder.' Dick Cheney? And this was going to be compassionate conservatism? Dick Cheney is to the right of Genghis Khan, he wants to drill in your backyard, he wants to deny black people their rights --it was all there in his voting record for us to see. What were we, rubes?"

While Reagan rejects a political career, he clearly doesn't shy from speaking out. What if GOP conservatives, who still lionize his father as the greatest president of the 20th century, pressure him to shut up? "That wouldn't be a smart thing for anyone to do."

About the writer: David Talbot is Salon's founder and editor in chief.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

HONK IF YOU'RE GLAD RON IS DEAD

I'm only half kidding with that one - i've cared for alzheimer's patients and i wouldn't wish anyone to meet such an undignified end. But really, this hubbub over the death of Reagan isn't just annoying insofar as it's represents a right-wing election year coup, it's just plain wrong. We remember Reagan as though he were emblematic of the 1950's - our romantic longing for the golden years of American global empire. But let's not forget he tripled the national debt, presided over high interest rates and widespread unemployment, and used his opposition to Communism as a smokescreen for propping up ruthless dictators in the third world on behalf of American economic interests.

This man did not love freedom. He called dictators such as Somosa, Hussein, Marcos and others friends, and aided them in the military repression of their own populations. I doubt any of the citizens of those countries experienced US assistance as "freedom." Whereas Carter would not budge ONE INCH with the Ayatollah of Iran, Ronnie sent Oliver North to Tehran with a cake in the shape of the key to his heart. Even the bullshit macho posturing is a put on.

AND let's not forget that Caspar Weinberger had the proof in his journals that the Iran-Contra scandal went all the way to the top. He hid them from investigators until the statute of limitations ran out, then was prosected for that, and convicted. He was pardoned by Bush I.

Come on folks, call a spade a spade and get real. Here's an essay by Greg Palast on the REAL Reagan legacy.

KILLER, COWARD, CONMAN -
GOOD RIDDANCE, RONNIE REAGAN
MORE PROOF ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
Sunday, June 6, 2004
by Greg Palast

You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to.

Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.

Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three.

And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog ... then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.

I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery.

And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about "family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.

The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million.

"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.

And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.

Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages.

Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah -- no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart.

Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.

I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby orders this demonstration to disburse" ... and then came the teargas and the truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.

In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway?

Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets.

In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.

Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead.

Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. www.GregPalast.com

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

From today's New York Times:

Robin Hood in Reverse,
by Paul Krugman

[...]
"It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a 'compassionate' agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.

"That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.

"I can't back that assertion with official numbers, because under Mr. Bush the Treasury Department has stopped releasing information on the distribution of tax cuts by income level. Estimates by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, which now provides the numbers the administration doesn't want you to know, reveal why. This year, the average tax reduction per family due to Bush-era cuts was $1,448. But this average reflects huge cuts for a few affluent families, with most families receiving much less (which helps explain why most people, according to polls, don't believe their taxes have been cut). In fact, the 257,000 taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million received a bigger combined tax cut than the 85 million taxpayers who make up the bottom 60 percent of the population." [...]

Read the entire essay here (requires a free, one-time registration).

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