December 30, 2005

President Bush's "Brownie" Quote Wins Award
by Arthur Spiegelman

  Call it the wrong phrase at the wrong time but "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush's most memorable phrase of 2005. more...


Big Brother Bush
By Molly Ivins
I don't mean to scare you silly -- but there's a reason we have never given our government this kind of power.

The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was crazy as a bullbat, and J. Edgar Hoover, who wore women's underwear, decided some Americans had unacceptable political opinions. So they set our government to spying on its own citizens, basically those who were deemed insufficiently like Crazy Richard Milhous.

For those of you who have forgotten just what a stonewall paranoid Nixon was, the poor man used to stalk around the White House demanding that his political enemies be killed. Many still believe there was a certain Richard III grandeur to Nixon's collapse because he was also a man of notable talents. There is neither grandeur nor tragedy in watching this president, the Testy Kid, violate his oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of our country.

The Testy Kid wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it because he is the president, and he considers that sufficient justification for whatever he wants. He even finds lawyers like John Yoo, who tell him that whatever he wants to do is legal. more...

December 29, 2005

The Republicans: Winners or Perpetrators?

If the Republican party, though, allows Bush and his cronies to get away with warrantless internal spying, self-admitted and even trumpeted, then they have explicitly allowed "winning" to become an openly committed crime, a coup d'etat and a form of usurpation. The "president" will have actually usurped the powers of the Congress and even the Judiciary, and the Republican Party will have colluded in this crime for the sake of tribal loyalty and, I suppose, mere "winning". It actually doesn't matter what bad legal advice Bush has received from his house lawyers, poodles all, namely Gonzalez, Ashcroft, Miers, and Yoo. Just because they are in a closed power loop, where they tell the boss what he wants to hear, that doesn't mean they are actually correct in their interpretation. If fellow Republicans allow their republic-destroying opinions to go forward as the standard, though, then they are colluding in an egregious crime committed against the nation. more...

December 28, 2005

Telling it like it isn't
By Robert Fisk

I FIRST REALIZED the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said. One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers.

"I used to call the Israeli Likud Party 'right wing,' " he said. "But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected." And so now, I asked? "We just don't call it 'right wing' anymore."

Ouch. I knew at once that these "readers" were viewed at his newspaper as Israel's friends, but I also knew that the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu was as right wing as it had ever been. more...

December 27, 2005

Where Was the New York Times When It Mattered?
NSA Spied on UN Diplomats During Push for Invasion of Iraq

Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency's domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq.

That spying had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack. The entire purpose of the NSA surveillance was to help the White House gain leverage, by whatever means possible, for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to green light an invasion. When that surveillance was exposed nearly three years ago, the mainstream U.S. media winked at Bush's illegal use of the NSA for his Iraq invasion agenda. more...

December 26, 2005

Growing Movement of Community Radio in Venezuela
by Sujatha Fernandes

Four young people sit around a large table, writing furiously amid piles of notes, cans of soda, and scrunched up papers. They could be kids doing their homework or studying for exams. But these young women from the shantytowns, aged between 17 and 22 years, are preparing for their hour-long program, „Public Power,š on air in ten minutes on community radio station Radio Perola, 92.3FM, in the Caracas parish of Caricuao.


Like other community radio stations in Venezuela, Radio Perola began as a clandestine station nearly nine years ago, and activists have fought for it to be legally authorized by the state. Under the hip-hop inspired slogan, „Maximum Respect!,š community journalists at Radio Perola are creating spaces for new voices, such as those of the young women, to be heard.

Ironically, the private media vilifies the community radio stations as propaganda vehicles of the government. An article published in the private daily, El Universal, on 26 June, 2005, refers to the community radio stations as „radio-electronic media of the state,š which are „employed for propaganda and political proselytism.š The writer laments what he sees as the lack of quality and cultural homogeneity of the community stations, and their bias towards the Chávez government.

But community radio stations have sought to retain their autonomy from the state, which is apparent not only in their struggles with state bureaucrats to ensure authorization, but in their willingness to criticize the Chávez government on important issues. In March 2005, activists of ANMCLA came together with social organizations and indigenous groups to protest the plan of the government to increase the extraction of coal in the oil-rich state of Zulia. The protesters pointed out that the plans would increase water contamination and health risks for the mostly indigenous population of the region who depend on scarce water supplies. They argued that the proposal violates the Kyoto Agreement and several articles of the Bolivarian Constitution that guarantee a clean and safe environment, and protection of indigenous resources. Although the outcome is still uncertain, community media activists have shown their willingness to criticize the government when community interests are at stake. more...

December 25, 2005

Who Will Fight for the Constitution?
The Year of Vanished Credibility

Start with Bush. Never at ease before the cameras, he now has the glassy stare and mirthless smile of a cornered man with nowhere left to run. Nixon looked the same in his last White House days, and so did Hitler, according to those present in the Fuehrerbunker. As Hitler did before him, Bush raves on about imagined victories. Spare a thought for the First Lady who has to endure his demented and possibly drunken harangues over supper. The word around Washington is that he's drinking again. At this rate he'll be shooting the dog and ordering the First Lady to take poison, which I'm sure she'll have great pleasure in forwarding to her mother in law. more...

December 24, 2005

from craigblog
Did Bush really say this?
Allegedly confirmed three times, but anyway, from here

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

„I don‚t give a goddamn,š Bush retorted. „I‚m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.š

„Mr. President,š one aide in the meeting said. „There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.š

„Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,š Bush screamed back. „It‚s just a goddamned piece of paper!š more...


Bush Causes Whiplash By Saying Bad Intel Made Good Decision
If War Was Right, For Who?
by Helen Thomas  

President George W. Bush poses a curious contradiction: He admits his decision to attack Iraq was based on faulty intelligence, but he insists that it was the right step to take.  

"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision," he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center on Dec. 14.  

Well, let's think about that: 2,161 Americans killed in action; thousands maimed for life; 30,000 Iraqis, "more or less," as Bush put it, have been killed and thousands more wounded.  

Iraqi cities have been battered by U.S. bombing, car bombings, kidnappings and religious strife. Don't forget the billions in U.S. tax dollars spent every month on the war.  

Top American officials can only sneak into Iraq, unannounced or undercover and heavily protected in armored vehicles -- not exactly as conquering heroes.  

Was this war worth it, and for whom? For the families who will never see their sons and daughters again? For the children who may never climb on their fathers' knees again? more...

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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003


Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.


This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.

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