May 13, 2006
Impeachment: An Apology the World Will No Doubt Understand
by Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.
Besieged from within and without, battered from head to toe; the soul of a once great nation is on the line. A nation having lost its standing, humbled to the bare knuckles of its own knees. Heretofore held high, a head bowed in disgrace before an angry world demanding its well-earned „pound of flesh.š A troubled nation floundering∑. gasping for breath; out of funds, politically adrift, and bankrupt to the core of its being. Nowhere to turn, down and out, and barring a miracle, dead on arrival as the chickens of its deadly past come home to roost.
Six months from now our nation will be called upon to make one of the most important decisions since that of having entered the Second World War; a decision to tell the world that we, as a people, are proud of our president, George Walker Bush, one who formulated a National Security Strategy based upon a policy of „preventive war,š a military doctrine having established our right to attack any and all foreign entities prior to their having developed the capacity to threaten our country, an arrangement in which we „strike first,š and then, if necessary, „ask questions later.š Or, on the contrary, a decision to inform the world that we, as a nation, made a huge mistake in having chosen to send to the White House, not once but twice, an arrogant administration, one that has brought immense shame upon the American people. It is important that we understand that there are many who have become angry at us in regards to our mistreatment of others. Given the belligerence of an administration on the verge of launching an attack upon Iran (a move that is likely to ignite an all out war in the Middle East), I wish to sound an alarm that there is little time to spare, a brief period in which to make amends, one last chance to tell the people of the world that we are sorry for what we have done, one last chance for us to avoid the coming wrath of an indignant world!
However, an apology means absolutely nothing unless a people are willing to come to terms with, that is, if they are essentially ready to take responsibility for their behavior. Therefore, a brief look at our rather strained relationship with those around the world. As explained in William Bloom‚s book, Killing Hope, it is no wonder that our neighbors view us with such contempt: „From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable systems. In the process, the U.S. bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair." Correspondingly, there has been a spate of studies and polls that have documented the fact that the United States has developed a reputation for having behaved badly; that we have become a rather rude, greedy, immoral, and violent bully of a nation; that, as a result of how the U.S. wields its power, it has become a greater danger to world peace than that of North Korea; that the U.S. [as a result of the war in Iraq] has caused the world to become a much more dangerous place; that more countries have a favorable view of China than that of the United States; and that few folks believe that the United States takes other country‚s interests into account when making international policy decisions. Taken together, the general consensus is that the United States has lost the trust and respect of the world community.
Consequently, given the fact that the United States has raised the ire of so many nations around the world, along with that of a president who has seemingly gone out of his way to alienate and offend so many, I feel there is but one thing that we, as a people, can do in order to convince the world that we are truly sorry for what we have done. Six months from now it is vital that we elect a Congress with the fearless courage to impeach the President. For I am certain that an unwillingness to impeach will send an unmistakable message to the rest of the world that we have all along supported the way our country has chosen to ravage the world during the five and one-half year reign of King George II, no doubt an open invitation for those of our enemies to attack where we have become most vulnerable; that of our own pride∑∑. an arrogant insistence that we, as Americans, are a special people, that we, as a nation, are above reproach, a certain unwillingness to admit that we may have been wrong, the audacity of suggesting that we, as a people, believe, that we have faith, in God, while failing to recognize the prominence of our inability to care for the souls of those we have killed, the very children who day in and day out are slaughtered in that of our very own name!
May 12, 2006
The War of Internet Democracy
by Robert B. Reich
This week, the House is expected to vote on something termed, in perfect Orwellian prose, the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006." It will be the first real battle in the coming War of Internet Democracy.
On one side are the companies that pipe the Internet into our homes and businesses. These include telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon, and cable companies like Comcast. Call them the pipe companies.
On the other side are the people and businesses that send Internet content through the pipes. Some are big outfits like Yahoo, Google, and Amazon, big financial institutions like Bank of America and Citigroup, and giant media companies soon to pump lots of movies and TV shows on to the Internet.
But most content providers are little guys. They‚re mom-and-pop operations specializing in, say, antique egg-beaters or Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia. They‚re anarchists, kooks, and zealots peddling all sorts of crank ideas They‚re personal publishers and small-time investigators. They include my son‚s comedy troop, that streams new videos on the Internet every week. They also include gazillions of bloggers – including my humble little blog and maybe even yours.
Until now, a basic principle of the Internet has been that the pipe companies can not discriminate among content providers. Everyone who puts stuff up on the Internet is treated exactly the same. The net is neutral.
But now the pipe companies want to charge the content providers, depending on how fast and reliably the pipes deliver the content. Presumably, the biggest content providers would pay the most money, leaving the little content people in the slowest and least-reliable parts of the pipe. (It will take you five minutes to download my blog.)
May 11, 2006
Hillary, Rupert, and the Culture of Corruption
by Jeff Cohen
Excuse me for not getting fired up when I hear Democratic leaders bleating about the "culture of corruption" in Washington under GOP rule. Sometimes I have to laugh. . .and not because the charges against the Republicans aren't true. They're totally true.
It's just that top Democrats are up to their eyeballs in that same culture of corruption -- which may be why they seem blind to how activists see them. Take my New York senator, Hillary Clinton. The Financial Times just reported that she and her re-election campaign have lined up rightwing media mogul Rupert Murdoch to host a Hillary fundraiser in July.
Murdoch is the symbol of media conglomeration and the owner of Republican mouthpieces like Fox News, Weekly Standard and the New York Post. He and Hillary have lately conducted a public courtship. Last month, Hillary attended the 10th anniversary party for Fox News in Washington, where the presidential contender schmoozed Murdoch and Fox chair Roger Ailes. According to the Financial Times, Bill Clinton will address the summer conference of Murdoch's media colossus, News Corp.
It's actually quite fitting that President Clinton address News Corp, since he helped build that conglomerate -- through his Telecommunications "Reform" Act of 1996, a corrupt measure largely drafted by lobbyists for the media industry as they lavished campaign cash on politicians of both parties.
May 10, 2006
Neil Young and the Restless
When it comes to really putting Bush and Rumsfeld on the spot, why did a comedian, a former general, a rock star, an ex-CIA analyst and an average citizen in North Carolina, go where reporters often fear to tread?
by Greg Mitchell
For centuries, The Press acted as surrogate for The People. Now, at least in regard to the Iraq war, the reverse often seems to be true.
While reporters and commentators continue to tiptoe around the question of whether Bush administration officials, right up to the president, deliberately misled the nation into the war, average and not-so-average citizens have raised the charge of „liesš and caused a stir usually reserved for reporters. Is America, or just my own head, about to explode over Iraq?
The latest example of citizen journalism occurred Thursday, with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern‚s persistent questioning of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld at a forum in Atlanta. CNN‚s Anderson Cooper, interviewing McGovern later, told him he had gone where most reporters had failed to tread. Whether Anderson meant this as self-criticism was impossible to tell.
This comes on the heels of satirist Stephen Colbert‚s performance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday -- publicized primarily by Web sites and blogs -- and this week‚s streaming-on-line debut of Neil Young‚s „Living with Warš album, which proposes impeaching the president „for lyingš (and „for spyingš). It has already earned more than a million Internet listeners, and on Saturday reached #3 in sales at Amazon. "Don't need no more lies," Young sings repeatedly in one song.
May 9, 2006
Clarity Vs. Celebrity
by Bob Herbert
Few people have ever heard of Jonathan Tasini. He's a low-key labor organizer and writer from Upper Manhattan who is trying to piece together a primary challenge to the re-election bid of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, primarily because of her stance on the Iraq war.
Mr. Tasini is against the war and wants American troops pulled out of Iraq forthwith.
Senator Clinton's position is ų well, that's a problem. It's not at all clear what Senator Clinton's position is. And for a Democratic Party that has suffered a succession of brutal defeats with excessively cautious candidates, Mrs. Clinton's indecisiveness on the war may be a hint of yet another disaster in the making.
May 8, 2006
South Dakota Voters May Decide Abortion Ban
By Christine Vestal
South Dakota touched off a national tempest with its strict new abortion ban, but the law also fomented a local grassroots movement and opened a schism in the state's dominant Republican Party.
In a state with only one abortion clinic staffed by a doctor who visits from Minnesota, the issue now is poised to dominate this year's state elections, in which the governor's office and all 35 state Senate seats and 70 House seats are on the ballot.
The new law - intended to set up a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 US Supreme Court landmark ruling legalizing abortion - makes it a felony for anyone to help a woman end her pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest or when the woman's physical or mental health is at risk. The law only permits abortion when it is necessary to save a woman's life. Opponents are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to overturn the law. Republican legislators who voted for South Dakota's ban are attracting both Democratic and Republican campaign challengers. And Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who signed the bill on March 6, has seen his support drop 20 percent, according to state polls.
May 7, 2006
The Final Say
by Eric Margolis
Iran's nuclear program is a danger to the entire world, U.S. President George Bush warned again last week as Washington pressed the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.
The uproar certainly helped distract public attention from the Bush administration's mounting domestic and foreign policy woes. It also showed how few people understand the Iranian nuclear question.
Experts say Iran may be in a position to fabricate a crude nuclear weapon in 5-10 years, but all the current alarms about Iran ignore a basic reality of nuclear weapons.
A nuclear device is useless unless it can be delivered with moderate accuracy over medium to long distances. One reason I was among the few insisting in 2002 that Iraq posed no threat was because it had no delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's most advanced missile could fly only 130 km. Its aircraft couldn't carry a nuclear weapon.
Even if Iran could fabricate, miniaturize and harden a nuclear warhead (a difficult achievement), the maximum range of the country's most advanced missile -- the highly inaccurate Shahab-3 -- is only about 1,300 kms. Iran has no nuclear-capable aircraft.
The only way Iran could pose the grave nuclear threat to the U.S. that Bush and his aides loudly claim, would be to send a nuclear device by freighter or FedEx.
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