liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An honest politician?

Oxymoron: A combination of contradictory or incongruous words. (Webster)

I do not believe Israel is a terrorist state. I do believe that Israel has committed acts that violate international standards and the Geneva conventions. --Jonathan Tasini

Tasini is a long overlooked, hardworking and truly progressive candidate who's been willing to duke it out in the trenches because of his principles, even in a forlorn hope like the challenge to Senate incumbent Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday, Howard Wolfson, a Clinton spokesman, sharply criticized Jonathan Tasini's comments about Israel.

"It's outrageous, offensive and beyond the pale," Wolfson said.

That sound bite may satisfy a lot of American supporters of Israel, but as Tasini points out, progressive and anti-war groups in Israel--such as B'Tselem--are critical of any party in a conflict that violates International Humanitarian Law, even Israel:

Over the past week, Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians in its attacks against targets in Lebanon . There is a concern that at least some of them were disproportionate attacks, which constitute war crimes. In addition, Israel has launched deliberate attacks against civilian infrastructure throughout Lebanon , such as bridges, the Beirut international airport , the electricity supply and fuel reservoirs. There is a concern that such attacks are intended to put pressure on the Lebanese Government and not to obtain a specific military advantage. If this is the case, these attacks constitute collective punishment and a grave violation of IHL. Moreover, even if these targets constitute legitimate military objects, or civilian objectives that may be used for military purposes, Israel must respect the principle of proportionality and refrain from attacks that would cause excessive harm to civilians.

It's time that our so-called Democratic leadership return to reason and equanimity in exercising judgment--particularly in matters of international diplomacy.

With Hillary Clinton, we're getting more of the same blanket condemnation of non-Israelis and unconditional support for Israel that we've gotten from our own neocons whenever we try to talk about Iraq. We're seeing the same fear and smear tactic used to stifle meaningful debate in 2004 when John Kerry tried to criticize President Bush's so-called, "War On Terror". "Support the Troops" is not a foreign policy.

Similarly, Malcolm Hoenlein of the conference of presidents of Major american Jewish Organizations called Mr. Tasini's comments "stunning" and said, "His ignorance is appalling."

That sounds like the tactic of changing the subject to attacking the messenger. The point Tasini makes is that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) applies equally to all parties, and it hurts Israel's stature in the international community when supporters lack the courage to equally uphold the same standards to all parties.

Tasini went on to say,

I, too, have stated clearly, from the outset, that Hezbollah’s actions violate international law. But, to ignore Israel’s actions is abhorrent, weak and cowardly.

Aren't we emulating the terrorists we condemn when we kill innocent civilians in reprisal for terrorist attacks? It's a question that has been conspicuously absent from our foreign policy debate since 911.

Where are these blind military policies taking us--and the rest of the world? Isn't it time we had an open, reasonable debate?

Support Jonathan Tasini. He can handle the truth.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Twisting the Knife

Huck Gutman has an article at Common Dreams entitled, Lying About The Real Cost of The Iraq War. He says,
While Congress was in session this week debating such momentous issues as whether to prevent the courts from interfering with the Pledge of Allegiance and whether to make it illegal to use women’s bodies to raise stem cells (in point of fact, all stem cells are taken from in vitro fertilization), a remarkable report came out in a minor government committee, a report on the cost of the US "global war on terrorism." What is particulary revealing in the report is its provision of very specific numbers for the cost, in dollars, of the Iraq War.

It's the GAO Report, Global War On Terrorism: Observations on Funding, Costs, and Future Commitments. Contrary to the Administration's initial estimates of 50 to 100 billion, the GWOT has so far cost US Taxpayers at least 430 billion 128 million dollars ... and counting.

The GAO doesn't indicate there is any sign of the spending tapering off, either. The Administration's apologists claim it was an error--an inaccurate prediction of costs. But Gutman tells it like it is:
This, then, is the truth, revealed more clearly than ever before: The Bush administration, which thought up the war and then urged it upon the American people, lied to us, lied about the cost of the war. If Americans knew what the war in Iraq would cost in dead, brave, American soldiers; if Americans knew how many other brave soldiers would return gravely wounded; if Americans knew that making war on Iraq would cut the heart out of HeadStart and Medicaid and would bankrupt state and local governments as revenue sharing declined and unfunded mandates increased -- if, in other words, Americans had known the costs of the war in Iraq, they would not have been eager to support the President.

It has all been a tissue of lies, from weapons of mass destruction to the irresponsible low-ball estimates of the war’s costs, to the unfulfilled claims that Iraqi oil would pay for our troops.

What flabbergasts Paul Krugman, on the other hand, isn't so much the lying as the stubbornness. According to Krugman,
Vice President Cheney continues to insist that his two most famous pronouncements about Iraq -- his declaration before the invasion that we would be "greeted as liberators" and his assertion a year ago that the insurgency was in its "last throes" -- were "basically accurate."
Krugman goes on to assert that William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and favored Fox News pundit, claims that the only real problem with the neocon agenda is a lack of will, and that we just need to launch airstrikes against Iran. Then everything will come out right in the end.

The only way, in truth, that things will come out right in the end, though, is if the American people impeach all of these lying, phony warriors, try and convict them of waging aggressive war and war profiteering, and force the whole BushCo corporate cabal to come up with reparations to pay back the Iraqi people and the American taxpayers the money that's been stolen from them.

After that, we can turn them over to the World Court.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Secrets of Success

As Sidney Blumenthal so eloquently opines in reference to Bush's foreign policy in The Guardian:
The North Korea debacle shows that Bush's ruinous approach began before the Iraq invasion, indeed before 9/11. His latest pantomimes of policies recall Gertrude Stein's description of Oakland, California: "there is no there there".

Of course, what's puzzling is not that Bush's team has flubbed again. We've all grown to expect failures from G-man. The bigger the undertaking, the bigger the flop.

What's particularly unsettling about these affairs is the underlying void. BushCo operates in a culture of secrecy unknown in American government since the end of the Second World War.

Just today I drafted a letter to a local newspaper complaining about the phony compromise legislation on the Bush-Cheney illegal eavesdropping program.
To the Editor,

Daytime Phone: 646-508-9647
Evening Phone: 845-

Arlen Specter has been around Washington long enough to know how to spin a bad idea so that it looks good to us outsiders.

That's what he's doing with his so-called, "compromise" proposal on the illegal domestic eavesdropping program secretly authorized by President Bush to spy on listen to and track telephone calls.

Specter calls it a matter of the White House "submitting" to review, but the truth is different, and worse.

The Cheney-Specter bill grants immunity and approval to the president's (and Cheney's) illegal spying. The bill seeks to broaden the incidence of spying on Americans, eliminating the mandatory judicial check required by federal law to protect constitutional rights.

In other words, Cheney has prevailed upon Specter to join him in hoodwinking the public while secretly gutting the Fourth Amendment.

Call and complain. Senator Specter's office: 202-224-4254; vice president Cheney's office: 202-456-1111; email:

David C. Vladeck, in Bush Does It In the Dark, at, eloquently describes the hyper-secretive culture surrounding BushCo with an invisible shield.

But the interested citizen has to ask, "Why?" If it isn't helping us fight our enemies, conduct diplomacy, or even run the government, what's the value of all the secrecy?

The answer is, "Ask Enron." What Ken Lay did to benefit his friends at the expense of his stockholders was a secret until his company tanked.

"Ask Valerie Plame." The phony intelligence cooked up about Iraq was secret until after we invaded.

"Ask Tom Kean." The 9/11 Commission Report is more outspoken in what it doesn't contain that in what it actually says.

The secrecy throws us off the trail of whatever these crooks are doing, and that's why they're getting away with it. They make everything look like some national peril, global war on terror, or epic battle between good and evil. That's what we're supposed to believe.

Meanwhile, behind a wall of secrecy, our country and the world is being savaged by carpet baggers.

And that's what Bush's presidency has really been about all along, hasn't it? Everybody just hasn't found it out yet.

Dear Senator

There will be no benefit to our society--your constituents--by allowing provider interference in internet access and utilization.

Net Neutrality is the only reasonable and responsible principle for organizing and operating the internet.

The power play by highly-paid corporate and telecommunications industry lobbyists to influence legislation in favor of big money special interests must be stopped.

In fact, it is unconscionable that some elected representatives of the people of this country are refraining from taking a clear public stand in favor of Net Neutrality. Such an "uncommitted" posture is a transparent gesture of favoritism towards the monopolistic and pro-deregulationist economic tyrannies that exploit public services and utilities for their own profit.

The anti-Net Neutrality interests are not putting the people--or the United States--first.

It's time for all representatives and senators to take a clear stand in favor of people and their empowerment. No more equivocating.

The internet belongs to the people. Support net neutrality with no "ifs", "ands" or "buts."

The Senate must preserve a free and open Internet. Please vote for enforceable network neutrality and keep tollbooths, gatekeepers, and discrimination off my Internet.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Culture of Violence, Exploitation

With all the news of violence in Africa, the Middle East, and in the Caribbean, we don't realize how the culture of violence has permeated our consciousness here at home in the United States.

I recently wrote to Chik-Fil-A in response to a promotion they're having, that I heard about from Farm Sanctuary.
"Thank you for inviting me to comment. I wish to respond to your "Save a cow, eat more chicken" promotion.

These animals are feeling beings who suffer greatly for our pleasure and profit. Please help people increase their awareness of the sanctity and suffering of these creatures subjugated to our dominion.

Chickens raised for meat, called "broiler chickens", are abnormally bred to grow beyond their biological limits and are typically raised inside huge factory-like warehouses with minimal space to move. Millions die before reaching slaughter every year. Those who survive are then tossed into cages on transport trucks where they are exposed to severe weather conditions. Poultry processing plants demand speed over humane slaughter for higher profits, causing untold suffering as fully conscious birds are hung upside down on assembly line rails destined for the killing floor. Since poultry are specifically excluded from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, stunning prior to slaughter is not required. Many birds have their throats slashed while still conscious.

I appreciate your taking the time to review these comments. Please be assured that I am speaking in all sincerity when I ask that you discontinue or change your promotion because it is inhumane in the portrayal of the suffering and exploitation of these animals.

Thank you."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Friday, July 14, 2006
NEW* CHENEY in New Hartford, NY: Vice President Dick Cheney is heading to upstate New York next week to stump for a fellow Republican. Cheney is scheduled to attend a fundraising event for state Senator Raymond Meier in the race for the 24th Congressional District now held by Representative Sherwood Boehlert. [Associated Press, 07/09/06]

Apparently, the exact location of the fundraising event is undisclosed, but at least one source is claiming it is scheduled to be in Utica

No matter how meaningless life may seem, one can always divine a purpose from trying to protest at events featuring Dick Cheney.