Sunday, March 25, 2007


"You is feeling like you was lost in the bush, boy? You says: It is a puling sample jungle of woods. You most shouts out: Bethicket me for a stump of beech if I have the poultriest notions what the farest he all means."~~James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

My friend Bernie says ever since the Bush gang stormed the White House in 2000, then stormed the World Trade Center in 2001, we've done nothing but run in circles like a bunch of terrified chickens with our heads chopped off. "We have no sense of direction," Bernie said, "we're staggering around in a jungle of lies, deceit, and scandal with no way out -- and that's the way they planned it."

"You're kidding!" I exclaimed, astonished. "You mean they planned this mess? It's nothing but bloody chaos out there --"

Bernie nodded. "You got that right. Bloody chaos is the best -- the only -- way to get what they're after. Don't be fooled by those little American flags stuck in the lapels of this bunch," Bernie continued. "The people in this nation, the hungry and homeless, the ill, the elderly, displaced Katrina victims, and especially those returning from war's inferno either in body bags or maimed physically, psychologically, and spiritually aren't even blips on their New World Order radar screen. They suffer at the pleasure of the president."

Bernie reminded me that shortly before the 2000 presidential campaign, when Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, he made a speech to the Institute of Petroleum in London where he complained that oil producers "had to deal with the pesky problem that once you find oil and pump it out of the ground you've got to turn around and find more or go out of business."

Cheney went on to say, "That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? Governments and the national oil companies are obviously in control of about ninety per cent of the assets. Oil remains fundamentally a government business...the Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies..."

Bernie grinned. "If that didn't set off alarms, especially in Iraq, you gotta know they started going off when, a year later, with his eyes on the prize, Cheney appointed himself vice president, put himself in charge of the nation's energy policy, based that policy on the location of oil fields -- not only in Iraq and Iran but throughout the Persian Gulf -- then mounted up and headed out to solve big oil's 'pesky' problem."

I have to agree with Bernie. Cheney and his bumbling bunch of neo-conservative henchmen are obsessed with this really crazy "vision" that they can control the world. Flip through their chilling masterpiece and you'll see that they believe the world is theirs -- everything, including space and cyberspace -- all theirs. And, it'll hit you right between the eyes that every one of these suckers is a flaming psycho. If it takes lies, they'll lie. If it takes imprisonment, torture, mass murder, either at home or abroad -- they'll do that too.

Bernie says folks in this country have no idea what they're up against. In spite of the draconian USA Patriot Act, they still hang onto the illusion that their freedoms are protected by the US Constitution; yet they emerge from each succeeding crisis with fewer and fewer freedoms. "If Americans were willing -- or capable -- of reading and thinking," Bernie said, "they'd know that the war being waged throughout the world began here at home, and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights were its first victims."

Can't argue with that. The truth's been out there for years. In December 2002, before the Washington Post drank the Stepford Kool-Aid, it published a riveting piece, "In Terror War, 2nd Track for Suspects," in which writer Charles Lane exposed Bush's executive power grab to strip courts of all oversight or authority. Lane sounded the alarm on the "parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system."

Lane went on to say the administration, with approval of the "special" Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, could "order a clandestine search of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base." If the courts were aware of this activity at all, they would have "very limited authority to second-guess the detention." .

Lane's article is no longer available on the WaPo site (surprise!), but can be found on Common, as can Jonathan Turley's August 2002 article,"Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision," originally published in the LA Times, but alas, is also no longer there.

Turley, a straight-talking professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, exposed then Attorney General John Ashcroft's "hellish vision" to incarcerate citizens he decided were "enemy combatants," i.e., all who were disloyal to Bush or dared to resist his "smoke-em-out" war on terror. According to Turley, in Ashcroft's America, "security precedes liberty." Liberty is nothing more than a "rhetorical justification for increased security," and citizens have a choice -- accept autocratic rule and surrender their rights peacefully, or be labeled enemy combatants and be held indefinitely by the government, without charges, a hearing, or access to a lawyer.

The camps are there, fully staffed and ready. In the absence of the US Constitution, Bush's Executive Orders are in place. Everything needed to keep this country running has been contracted out. Halliburton has left the building. Those in our society still having bragging rights to civil liberties are illegal aliens, whose growing numbers give new meaning to the word, "surge." One swipe of Bush's pen will inflict martial law and we will discover, too late, that we live in a police state patrolled by jackbooted Blackwater USA mercenaries who will, indeed, serve at the pleasure of the president..

Blackwater is in place to become this nation's shadow police force and is its current shadow army. Go back to the "dry run" of Katrina and take a look at the heavily armed force that laid seige to New Orleans, that sped through the streets rounding up hurricane victims, packing them into a "detention" arena where they were forced to stay for days without food or water or assistance. Go back even further -- the bodies hanging from the bridge in Fallujah were not US soldiers, but Blackwater mercenaries -- death squad troops 100,000 strong who roam the Iraqi streets at will and stir up violence and hatred against the uniformed US military.

We are awakening to find ourselves in a dark evil tangle, a "puling sample jungle of woods." Reminds me of the helplessness I felt on that bright, sunshiny day when I pulled over at a roadside park near Atlanta to take a short nap. When I awoke two hours later, it was pitch dark -- and it was only noon! Then, I realized with horror that I was covered with Kudzu -- I could hear it relentlessly growing, munching, crunching around me!

I was faced with a choice. I could hunker down in fear and hope someone else would save me, or I could at least make the effort to get out of the mess I had gotten myself into. Armed with only a dull pocket knife, I managed to slice my way out of the jungle by cutting frantically for a few minutes and then "inching" the car forward. Finally, after a three-hour battle with the stuff, I was free! I sped toward the state line with the carniverous vines hot on my tail. I have never been back to Georgia. Only the Devil goes down there...

It doesn't matter if that actually happened. The important thing is that we are now faced with a choice. We can hunker down and hope for the best, or we can rise up and take our country back. Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul says we must act before it is too late and we find ourselves being herded into camps. Paul says we must contact every single member of congress and demand "a repeal of freedom-crushing legislation such as the Patriot act and the Military Commissions Act and the Defense Authorization Act which essentially wipes out Habeas Corpus."

They must be forcibly stopped. We must impeach this unholy gang of war criminals because they have no intention of leaving office in 2008, or ever, if they are left unchecked. We must not allow ourselves and our children to be forced to live in a Kudzu World -- to survive only at the pleasure of the president.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


In the following March 7 editorial entitled, "Spartacus B. Cheney," the St. Louis Post Dispatch separates the wheat from the chaff in the Scooter Libby fiasco. Tells it like it is. Exposes the pundits on Fox and CNN for what they really are -- Bush's bitches. I may live in the vast wasteland of Little Jimmy Inhofe Country, but I was born in Missouri. Today -- I'm damned proud of it.

Spartacus B. Cheney

If Dick Cheney had a shred of honor, he'd resign the vice presidency and offer to take the rap for his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who's looking at 18 months to three years in a federal prison after being convicted Tuesday for lying about his part in a scheme that his old boss clearly engineered.

What an opportunity for Mr. Cheney. With one grand, magnanimous gesture, he could erase his image as Washington's Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of Halliburton, the scheming Rasputin to George W. Bush's Czar Nicholas II. History might even record Mr. Cheney as a principled man of honor, who, when his men were threatened with annihilation, stood tall and proclaimed, "I am Spartacus!"

We shall not hold our breaths. If the long and tortuous four-year saga over how 16 false and misleading words came to be in Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech proves anything, it's that the concept of personal sacrifice is foreign to this White House. Sacrifice is for other people — for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sent to war on false premises; for reporters willing to go to jail to protect sources who didn't want protecting; for underlings sent out, either knowingly (like Mr. Libby) or unknowingly (like former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan), to tell lies.

It was a four-year journey from yellow cake to yellow streak. It seems long ago, but the original idea was to see if laws were broken by the cad or cads who leaked the information that Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a CIA operative.

It was in the fall of 2003, some six months after the U.S. invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, including some that might have been produced with uranium yellowcake purchased in Africa, as suggested by Mr. Bush in those famous 16 words in Jan. 28 of that year.

This wasn't true, of course, and Mr. Wilson's trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA had indicated as much. But the truth was inconvenient to the effort to gin up a war on Iraq. Instead, as testimony in the trial revealed, Mr. Cheney led a full-bore assault on Mr. Wilson's credibility, including the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity to selected reporters. Mr. Libby was part of the effort, as was Karl Rove, the president's political guru. As to the president's involvement, the kindest interpretation is that he was clueless. Mr. Cheney let him go before the press and promise to fire anyone on his staff who was involved.

The nation owes a debt of thanks to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for Northern Illinois, whose relentless pursuit of the truth in this case was less about what Mr. Libby said or didn't say, but about lifting the curtain of self-righteousness from the White House. What was revealed was not the great and powerful Oz, but a craven band of bunco artists.

As a prosecutor, both in the Plame affair and in his ongoing investigation of Democratic and Republican political scandals in Illinois, Mr. Fitzgerald has proved to be patient, careful, leak-proof and nonpartisan. He found insufficient evidence to seek indictments under the difficult terms of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but plenty of evidence for what he believed he could prove: five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice against one defendant. The jury returned convictions on four of the five.

Alas, Mr. Fitzgerald also drove hobnailed boots into the First Amendment, jailing one reporter for 85 days and threatening to jail others unless they outed sources. This overzealous behavior by the prosecutor was mitigated by two facts: One, the sources, including Mr. Libby, released the reporters from their pledges of confidentiality; and two, some of the biggest names in Washington journalism allowed themselves to be spun like rotisserie chickens.

L'affaire Plame was not a proud moment for either American government or American journalism — or, for that matter, for American justice. If there were real justice, Scooter Libby wouldn't be the only guy headed for prison.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lost in the Lust of Werewolves

By Sheila Samples

"A lost infant in the ashes, lost faces in the dust, a lost finger in the garbage dumps, a lost mother in the debris, a nation lost in the fire, a country lost in the greed...and eyes lost in that endless tunnel of helplessness, anguish and despair...lost in the total emptiness, in the void of the living dead."~~Layla Anwar, "Ashes & Dust"
Sometimes I wonder if Americans are unaware of the malicious devastation the Bush administrtion is wreaking upon this good earth and its inhabitants, or if they just don't give a damn. I wonder if they ever put a "face" on even one of the hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children who are lost forever -- victims of arrogance, lust for power, insatiable greed. And lies .. all lost because of evil, deliberate lies.

I wonder why so many denizens of this Christian nation seem unable or unwilling to wrap their minds around the reality that Iraqi people are human beings just as they, themselves, are -- not rabid dogs to be hunted down and slaughtered. Perhaps it's because, in order to remain sane or to avoid being targeted by the Bush administration, they traded their Christianity for Religion, their Love for Hate -- their Life for Death. For protection from the Butcher of Baghdad, far too many Americans far too easily traded their souls to the Werewolf of Washington.

They don't want to know what it's like for families to cower in terror as their doors are kicked in, mothers and daughters raped, fathers and sons dragged off, never to be seen again. They don't want to know about prisoners being humiliated and tortured, secretly "rendered" to countries for more torture, held captive for endless years without charges, without hope, without life. They don't want to know about Iraq's rich culture, its secular society, its formidable institutiions of learning. According to the late Columbia University professor Edward Said, all of this, along with Iraq's "long-suffering people were made invisible, the better to smash the country as if it were only a den of thieves and murderers." (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24 - 30 April 2003)

Even if it were possible to know how many innocent civilians have been needlessly murdered, it wouldn't matter. Because America's leaders don't know and they don't care. As General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, retorted to an April 1991 question about Iraqi casualties -- "That's not really a number I'm terribly interested in." And, following the assault on Afghanistan, General Tommy Franks, CENTCOM commander and architect of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi killing sprees, quipped at a March 2002 news conference at Bagram Air Base -- "We don't do body counts."

Even President George Bush, the commander-in-chief -- the Energizer Bunny Decider -- pleaded ignorance and apathy when asked on Dec. 12, 2005 about the number of iraqi civilians slain since the March 2003 invasion. "How many Iraqi civilians have this war?" he asked. "Um...I would say about 30,000 -- more or less..."

Reporters in the room knew that more than a year before, the British medical journal, The Lancet, had reported for the period March 2003 - Sept. 2004, an excess mortality of nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Yet none dared challenge Bush then nor in October 2006 when the journal released an indepth study that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis had died since the invasion, with more than 600,000 due to violence.

Is Politics really more important than life? Of course, when you consider the gandy-dancing, moon-walking and flip-flopping that's gone on within the political axis -- the administration, the Congress and the media -- since the November elections. If there were doubts that this axis considers the nation's military anything more than "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy," the spectacle that has unfolded since Bush was backed into a corner with the release of the James Baker/Les Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) report put them to rest. Its 84 pages boiled down to one sentence in the Executive Summary - "The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged," which was another way of telling Bush not to cut and run until the oil law was passed which will legalize US corporate plunder of Iraq's oil fields via 35-year contracts.

The ISG was nine months in the making, March through October 2006, during which time 556 coalition "troops" were killed -- 515 of them American. For political reasons, Baker and Hamilton waited until after the election to release it, hardly noticing that 77 servicemen and women were killed in November. On Dec. 13, when Bush tossed the report on the table with the rest of the options and announced he'd make his decision after Christmas, US casualties stood at 2,937. On Christmas Day, when he bowed his head to thank God for making him The Decider, 2,975 Americans would never open another present.

The overwhelming vote in November 2006 was a national demand to stop the war. Bush responded in January 2007 by announcing not only that he was staying the course, but that he was "surging" an additional 21,500 military in a "New Way Forward" plan. Since that time, with the surge underway, Democrats and Republicans have sparred in a shameful display of shadow-boxing oratory and endless debates on debates, resulting in a single limp, non-binding resolution designed to do little more than give political cover to those voting for it. With the surge nearly complete, House Democrats now say they're working on a plan to restrict Bush's ability to wage war, with the stipulation, of course, that he can continue to kill if he "publicly justifies" his position.

With cruel indifference this pack of werewolves, led by a creature who deserted his post in a time of war, continue to fund a surge they claim they are against while shouting, "Support the troops!" They neither know nor care that, above all things, support means full force protection -- sufficient training, proper equipment -- and medical care for those who return broken in body, mind and spirit.

Like their more than 650,000 Iraqi counterparts, the 3,185 US victims of the Iraqi inferno have no individual form or substance in the minds of the general public -- certainly not in those of the media or the Congress. One is merely "collateral damage," the other a heap of body bags labeled "troops." Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were exactly right when they said that so many lives in this illegal war have been "wasted," rather than sacrificed. Victims of this war -- Iraqi and American -- are little more than debris scattered in the wake of the werewolves' lust to dominate the world and control its resources.

They are, as described so eloquently by Iraq's Layla Anwar -- "lost faces in the dust."