The Craving (with Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe, Again)

This poem was originally published on 12/24/06. It is being presented here on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 criminal attacks. It is this author’s very considered opinion that the attacks should have been treated as crimes and not Acts of War. You don’t use the military to go after the Mafia, and we should not have used the full force of our military to go after al Qaeda. In fact, I firmly believe that had we not gone in with our full military, we would have gotten the intel faster and Seal Team Six could have done their job sooner. But that’s a debate for another day.


There has been much speculation about why the President really chose to invade Iraq. Some say it was to stabilize the region so our access to oil would be secure. Some say it was because Saddam had tried to assassinate the president’s father years before. (Then-President Clinton had already punished Saddam for that one, but that’s another story.) I am of the belief that this was just one part of an ambitious effort by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to expand the powers of the Office of the President of the United States of America to a height even Richard M. Nixon would have secretly envied. They are invoking a theory called the “Unitary Executive” which, in essence, says that the Executive Branch of our government has just as much say as to how the laws and the Constitution should be interpreted as the other two branches. (And I don’t mind telling you that it wasn’t easy to work the phrase “Unitary Executive” into a poem structured like this.) This theory has not been widely accepted by constitutional scholars. That little detail, however, has not stopped them. With sincere apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and fans of his great poem “The Raven”, I would like to present my version of the president’s quest for power with a poem I call “The Craving.” And my most deepest thanks to my wife, Jane, for her invaluable assistance in writing this. I hope you enjoy it. And if by some strange fluke of reality, you happen to be reading this Mr. President, take the hint.

The Craving
By Wayne A. Schneider

Act I: Extremists

Once upon a Tuesday Morning, after I ignored a warning
Over many there came a furious full plume of fiery gore.
Later seated simply staring, suddenly someone was sharing
That the enemy was bearing, bearing toward my White House door.
“It’s those terrorists,” I muttered “bearing toward my White House door.”
It was one, and there were four.

The other planes had landed where the terrorists had planned it,
Bringing death and devastation on a scale unseen before.
But the passengers still flying on Flight 93 were trying
Continue reading

Of Missile Shields and Missive Spiels

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Predictably, the minute President Obama announces a policy shift from the Bush Administration, NeoCons reflexively denounce Obama using the tried and true tactic of lying and altering history. Last night on Real Time with Bill Maher was no exception as Matthew Continetti, (a new face/stand-in for Bill Kristol, also of the Weekly Standard) made the unrebutted assertion that Poland and the Czech Republic wanted the “Missile Shield” that Obama recently discontinued. Did they really?

Not quite, according to an excellent article written in the Spring of 2008:

Concerned that hosting a US missile base will put them on the frontline of a new confrontation with Russia, the majority of Poles now oppose siting the interceptors in their country.

The same was true of the Czech Republic. However, as long as Bush was willing to pay any price, their governments were willing to go along with the deal, even though it was causing great divisions amongst NATO allies.
Continue reading

That was close..

The New York Times reports:

Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials. (read story)

Cheney was all for it? Surprise, surprise. Some more familiar names crop up John Yoo or Alberto R. Gonzales. Condi was against it.

Your Constitution took a couple of hits during the Bush years, but this is proof how close they were to disband it altogether.

And this is what it was all about.

Former officials said the 2002 debate arose partly from Justice Department concerns that there might not be enough evidence to arrest and successfully prosecute the suspects in Lackawanna. Mr. Cheney, the officials said, had argued that the administration would need a lower threshold of evidence to declare them enemy combatants and keep them in military custody.

To think it would have been only “enemy combatants” who were the ultimate target of the “lower threshold of evidence” would be naive in the extreme. That was meant for you all.

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“Torture Works” vs. “I Make Up Stories”

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Dick Cheney has been trying to tell us that torture works (okay, he still refuses to use the word “torture”, but in the interests of accuracy and clarity, I will substitute the word “torture” for any other euphemism they may utilize), that we gained valuable intelligence from its use, and that “it saved lives.” Did it, Dick? Did it really save lives? Or did it cost lives? American lives? Americans in uniform? Did your insistence on the use, and staunch defense, of a series of illegally-authorized interrogation techniques, which were based on methods known to elicit false confessions, actually end up getting one or more of our soldiers killed?

Thanks to the ACLU, we now know that Dick Cheney was lying through his gritting teeth when he said we received valuable intelligence through the use of torture, particularly in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (also, and more conveniently, known as “KSM”.) He claimed that intel “saved lives.” Given Dick’s well-documented history of spreading falsehoods, I have every reason in the world to believe that not only was this statement a lie, it was actually the opposite of the truth. I have reason to believe that people died because of the information we gained through torture. And the reason is a very simple one. KSM himself said, in his statement at his “Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing” (Pg 15):

I ah cannot remember now…I be under questioning so-many statement which been some them l make up stories just location UBL. Continue reading

Send Bush to jail (and throw away the key)

I wrote in an earlier post, that one of my wishes for the Obama Presidency was signature and ratification of the Rome Statute which constitutes the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I still believe this should be done to restore the trust of the world in American politics by accepting accountability to international standards.  Initially my idea was to find a way to hold President Bush accountable and try him for his crimes in a court of law. However, after some research, I doubt that end would be achieved by joining in the ICC. The Rome Statute states explicitly that it’s rules apply to the signatory states only after the ratification unless it’s jurisdiction was approved retroactively by the signing state.  At least that is how I understood the text.  There may be lawyers among you who know better than me and I would very much appreciate to learn more from you.

I do think it is possible that an Obama Administration signs the statute (or re-signs it, it has already been signed by the Clinton Administration, but the Bush Administration “un-signed” it) and the Democratic Congress ratifies it. I don’t believe it would be made retroactive though, because that would amount to handing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and some more to The Hague. Barack Obama, among other things, has stressed bi-partisanship and just imagine the Republican’s and their voters’ reaction.

So where does that leave you? You will have to go it alone. And the Bush Administration must be held accountable for their actions. There is a number of crimes that have been assembled by the National Lawyers Guild in an attempt to impeach Bush. In November Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote an article in MWCnews saying:

I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush.  Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.

I could not agree more. The documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” ran on a German tv-channel yesterday and it brought back the atrocities of the “War on Terror”. And yes, I would like to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo and some more held accountable for these crimes and more in a court of law.

Everybody’s Walkin’

As we approach the 1,000 hours-to-go mark in the Still Bush Administration (Dec 9, 2008, 8 PM EST, 5 PM PST – 1,000 hours to go), Bush must be looking around and watching people getting ready to leave. Here’s Harry Nilsson to help me describe it. I hope you enjoy the parody. I know you’ll enjoy the song.

Everybody’s Walkin’
Original Words and Music “Everybody’s Talkin'” by Harry Nilsson, 1969
Additional Lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2008

Everybody’s walkin’ on me
I don’t hear a word ‘bout stayin’
Only the voices in my mind

People start their packing
Continue reading

Defense Spending: Reagan/Bush I vs. Clinton vs. Bush II

My blogging arch nemesis, The New Conservative, used a previous post from my homebase concerning America’s readiness to see military reform focused not on spending more, but on spending better as an excuse to hammer Clinton for failing at the very same task. And while I’m not going to disagree that Clinton could have done more to reform the military, it’s inarguable that Clinton did, in fact, significantly reign in military spending. Here are the relevant numbers:

  • $453 billion – the average annual defense budget for the nine years before Clinton took office.
  • $377 billion – the average annual defense budget during Clinton’s time in office, a 16.7% decrease.
  • $496 billion – the average annual defense budget during Bush’s time in office, a whopping 31% increase not even including the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are largely funded through supplementals not included in the official defense budget.

These numbers are in GDP adjusted dollars to make the comparisons as fair as possible. The raw data for these calculations is available here. If anyone finds trouble with my math, please let me know.

Now, we all know that cutting defense spending is second only to cutting Social Security on the political no-no list. The military industrial complex employs several hundred thousand employees. It frequently helps to prop up the economy. And they are represented by some of the best lobbyists in the business.

But couldn’t we get those same economic results by investing in technology we all know we need? Like a new transportation infrastructure — high speed rail in certain areas, new roads and bridges, a new high-bandwidth internet that reaches deep into even the most rural communities. Why not spend on that? Our military will never be able to protect us from economic threats. And frankly, a bloated military still mired in Cold War thinking is ill-equipped to protect us from terrorist threats. But if we give our citizens access to the best technology, if we invest in green technologies, we could create jobs that don’t require us to build unnecessary implements of death. We could scale back our overseas campaigns, engendering good will. And we can knee-cap the terrorists’ agenda by bringing genuine humanitarian aid and progress to those parts of the world most susceptible to terrorist recruitment. Our foreign policy should be based on stability, preferably in democratic systems, as well as the economic and educational development of the poor and powerless countries strewn throughout the Middle East and Eurasia.

I don’t see why this needs to be a partisan issue. I think both sides should be able to agree that spending just under a half trillion dollars on defense (more if we include Iraq and Afghanistan) is too much by any standard. And of course, the more we spend on military equipment, the more persuaded we are to put it to use, which only escalates the cycle.

Barack Obama – The weekly address

For the first time, the weekly Democratic address has been released as a web video. It will also continue to air on the radio.

President-elect Obama plans to to publish these weekly updates through the Transition and then from the White House.

Today’s address from the President-elect concerns the current economic crisis:

The text.

About Sarah Palin

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Thanks to My2Buck$ for posting this letter. There’s not too much to say about this except that the media and McCain, who is always two steps behind every one else, is still focused on Palin’s family while we liberal bloggers, have moved on to other more important issues. If you thought that Dick Cheney was evil, well, Sarah Palin comes with similar baggage. And she is a true Republican that has taxed the poor and middle class and given tax relief to corporations. Sarah also has a history of throwing people, even friends, under the bus. Sounds like another McCain/Bush marriage.

This is a long letter and well worth reading.

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the
last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in
common: their gender and their good looks. 🙂

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts
with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on
any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .



I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.
Continue reading

Where’s the Outrage?

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Last night at the Republican National Convention, President Bush spoke for barely eight minutes. (Funny how the president’s name was not mentioned once during any of the other speeches that evening!)

During the President’s speech, he said several things that outraged me, yet there is nothing, NOTHING in the media or anywhere on the blogosphere that I could see.

While most of the speaker’s last night either exaggerated the truth or out-and-out lied, that is to be expected. But as President of the United States, I am appalled by the blatant partisanship displayed by OUR president.

While there were several things that I found offensive, this is the most egregious:

Fellow citizens: If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.

Excuse me? Angry left or right, we are all America’s citizens and as President of the United States of America you should represent all of us. I understand that this is a political convention, but that type of discourse has no place even there.

I would remind you, Mr. President, what Senator Barack Obama said just the other night: We are not from red states or blue states, we are from the United States, and as such, you are supposed to represent us as well. After all, it is US who pays YOU. Which leads to my next outrage.

We have seen John McCain’s commitment to principle in our Nation’s capital. John is a steadfast opponent of wasteful spending.

Wasteful spending? Like privatizing our military? Corporations like KBR, Haliburton and Blackwater have flourished under your less-than-watchful eye. KBR alone has garnished multi-billions of dollars in contracts – with more than a billion being in dispute, criticized by a civilian overseer who was ousted from his job as a result of daring to question that one instance of wasteful spending!

Perhaps you are referring to funneling the American treasury to your cronies who barely rebuilt New Orleans or funding of private schools in Washington, DC through vouchers – which was an abysmal failure. That was wise spending? Going into debt into the trillions was not wasteful?

For the entire time you were in office, Mr. President, you cared little about the average American and even less for the people who are fighting your war. When they returned from your war, injured, some near death, you allowed them to suffer in the hell holes of the Walter Reed’s in America.

And that, brings me to another outrage.

John is a leader who knows that human life is fragile, that human life is precious, that human life must be defended.

Which human life would that be, Mr. President? Those warriors I mentioned above? The ones who you and Senator McCain continuously refused to provide and updated GI Bill to by threatening a veto – then took credit for once it passed with a veto-proof majority? Or the ones you or Senator McCain refused to insure under S-CHIP? Exactly whose human life is it you want to protect and defend? Oh, right…the ones not yet born. Even to the detriment of the mother, the human fetus is king.

Is this the kind of strength of office you are so proud of? Are these the principles you so proudly claim?

And that leads to my final outrage.

When he takes office next January, John will have an outstanding leader at his side. America will have a strong and principled vice president in the governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

I don’t think much needs to be said about this, Mr. President. With you, and your second, Vice President Cheney, there are few who could be less principled. That said, Governor Sarah Palin appears to be trying hard as the head of her state. The principles she offers are ones that the masses in America neither value nor appreciate.

I am outraged by your words, Mr. President. And I doubt I am alone.

The full speech is below the fold.

Continue reading

Seven Years Ago Today…

President George W Bush received this memo (declassified in 2004) which he ignored and in turned failed to protect the American people. As a result, 3000+ people died on September 11, 2001 and many more people died because of a war based on lies in Iraq.

George W. Bush… the worse president ever. He failed to keep us safe.

Just think, the world would be a safer place in only George W. Bush did his job as president and took responsible action with this memo. Instead, he preferred playing golf and cutting brush.

America – George W Bush failed us.

You won’t see this on the MSM

The surge didn’t work. Instead, we built a city of walls, both physically and psychologically.

Thanks to the Diary at DailyKos posted by ‘panicbean’ for sharing these videos. It is recommended by the blogger that we post these videos everywhere because you won’t see these on the MSM.

Baghdad – 5 Years post invasion Part 1

It only gets worse in Part 2

This is what George W Bush and his NeoCon friends gave to the Iraqi people.

What about the children? What George W Bush did IS NOT family values.

Baghdad – 5 Years post invasion Part 3

This is Iraq’s future and our future. How do you make friends with someone that blames you for the death of their parents? They don’t hate us for our freedoms, they hate us because we have destroyed their lives.

A John McCain presidency will only continue with this disgrace. The old man is planning on winning. Winning what? I don’t know. It certainly won’t be the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

Change happens..

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us. (Martin Luther King)

Early on in the Democratic Primary campaign, I said there was a longing for change in the American society. If I give you samples less than a year old, you may be as surprised as I am, at how many things have already manifestly changed since then.

The most obvious: Everybody including the White House and John McCain is now talking about a timetable for Iraq withdrawal.

President Bush in June (some six weeks ago):

“There should be no definitive timetable,” Bush was quoted as saying. “I am confident that (British Prime Minister Brown), like me, will listen to our commanders to make sure that the sacrifices that have gone forward won’t be unraveled by drawdowns that may not be warranted at this point in time.”

And now?

[…] the Decider says he is now amenable to a “time horizon,” which apparently is a whole different kind of time thing — not at all like the sensible course of action that Democrats and other critics of the Iraq occupation have been demanding.

John McCain’s 100 years if necessary have been widely reported. As recently as July 17th Reuters reported this:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Thursday ridiculed Democrat Barack Obama’s vow to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months as a political tactic aimed at getting votes.

And now?

“I think it’s a pretty good timetable,”

Short and concise and what a change!

In July 2007 Hillary Clinton said according to the LA Times blog:

[But] I don’t want to see the power and prestige of the United States president put at risk by rushing into meetings with the likes of Chavez and Castro and Ahmadinejad.”

and her minions:

Clinton forces pounced, saying it showed he was naive and unprepared to lead the country. In contrast, they said, Clinton’s answer demonstrated she had the strength and experience to be commander in chief. ( full story)

The GOP couldn’t have agreed more and argued similarly. On July 16, reports came in that a United States official was taking part in the Geneva talks with Iran on the latter’s nuclear ambitions.

A senior United States official is taking part for the first time in international talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

The official, William Burns, is joining envoys from the EU and permanent members of the UN security council.

Their talks with top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili were expected to focus on incentives for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.

Mr Burns’ attendance is being seen as a major shift in US policy.(emphasis added)

I have never before seen a campaign, and I am old enough to have followed a few across the pond both ways, where a likely candidate has induced major policy shifts by a sitting lame duck administration.

But, that is only on the outside, the shift goes deeper. Again a very obvious one, Barack Obama is the first African American to be a candidate in a Presidential election, whom many people seriously consider to vote for. Moreover, groups in your society, who never before have actively taken part in the political process are still registering to vote, even after the first hype is over. A twelve months ago mostly unknown politician has managed to outraise and outspend all of the inside-the-beltway-old-washingtonian-lobbyist-financed political machinery of one of the most influential political families. Funded by people like you, not like Abramoff. This is a resounding slap in the face of the old ways. Furthermore, and this may be “small change” if you will, hasn’t Nancy Pelosi for the first time not stepped down on an impeachment hearing? True, without the tenacity of Dennis Kucinich this wouldn’t have happened, but there is a changed political atmosphere, too, which made that possible. Americans are not taking no for an answer anymore. Did you hear much talk about that gas-tax holiday, recently? And did the discussion about drilling in ANWR somehow ring hollow? Do all of those business-as-usual political spats sound well-rehearsed-going-through-the-motions soundbites?

It is the Americans, who have changed and Obama’s candidacy is the focal point for and the result of this change. The US are about to arrive in the 21st century. The candidacy of Barack Obama is not due to an irrational wish for a messianic figure, as some want to make believe for obvious reasons. It is the manifestation of the voter’s will to vote for a different kind of politics. A sizeable number of Americans have eschewed the old way politics were done and are prepared to risk something new. This is their change, not Obama’s, and they mean to pull this through and some.

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He Who Must Not Be Named

Madonna Lebling, a researcher for the Washington Post, noted in reviewing President Bush’s appearances and public statements, that the President has taken the Harry Potter approach to Senator Obama in that the President has uttered the senator’s name but a handful of times since Obama began his bid for the White House last year. And the last time Bush did so was an “attempt at humor” during the White House Correspondents Dinner where the President said that Senator Obama:

“was unable to attend because he was ‘at church.'” It was a reference to the candidate’s troubles with his controversial former minister.

Of course, the President has no such aversion to mentioning his desired candidate Senator McCain by name. Nor does Bush have an aversion to fundraising for the presumptive Republican nominee.

One would assume that the current resident of the White House wants McCain to become the next resident. But I question that assumption when the White House ‘accidentally‘ sends a Reuters story of an interview Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave to Der Speigel, a German news outlet, stating Maliki supports the 16 month US withdrawal plan of He Who Must Not Be Named’s to “an extensive distribution list.”

As ABC’s Jake Tapper reports:

The misfire comes at an odd time for Bush foreign policy, at a time when Obama’s campaign alleges the president is moving closer toward Obama’s recommendations about international relations — sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussing a “general time horizon” for U.S. troop withdrawal and launching talks with Iran.


The Washington Post says:

The mixup came after the White House announced Friday that it had agreed with Maliki to set a “general time horizon” for U.S. troop withdrawal.

Time Horizon? Which, of course is nothing like a timeline, timeframe, or any such thing, because we all know that:

the horizon is the line where the sky meets the earth — and thus can never be reached.

I am certain that this is the desired withdrawal date that the White House and Senator McCain have in mind; one which can never be reached (much like the elusive definition of Success in Iraq).

What does the McCain camp have to say about the Der Speigel article? Well, that it was mistranslated. Too bad that the Iraqi government again stated their support of the He Who Must Not Be Named timeline.

It appears that there has been the adoption of many of Obama’s policies of late. Before we know it, the Republican’s will be telling us that these were their policies all along.

And the most priceless quote of the day? This by Christopher Hayes over at The Nation (about the Iraqi government’s take on Obama’s timeline):

What’s truly amazing about this turn of events is that it more and more looks like the Prime Minister of Iraq is going to help engineer regime change back in the US.

For that, can I get an Amen?!

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Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

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Europeans are besotted with Obama. UK Prime Minister Brown is planning his schedule right around Obama’s visit and Germans are happily fighting about whether it’s appropriate to have Obama speak from the Brandenburg Gate. But George W. Bush will still be President for a while.

The Times concentrates on the here and now in American politics. And in the here and now favours are granted for cash. Stephen Payne will arrange meetings with the powers at large in the White House, but for a price.

During an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times, Payne was asked to arrange meetings in Washington for an exiled former central Asian president. He outlined the cost of facilitating such access.

“The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library,” said Payne, who sits on the US homeland security advisory council.

He said initially that the “family” of the Asian politician should make the donation. He later added that if all the money was paid to him he would make the payment to the Bush library. Publicly, it would appear to have been made in the politician’s name “unless he wants to be anonymous for some reason”.(read more)

So, that’s what Presidential libraries are for, money laundering? Small wonder Bill Clinton adamantly refuses to publish a list of donors.

The Independent is worried about the incresing “tit for tat” politics around the nuclear ambitions of Iran. The ongoing bickering may finally evolve into the military conflict we fear and some would welcome.

What began in 2003 as a legitimate attempt to persuade Iran to desist from its hitherto secret enrichment programme has snowballed into a confrontation between the US and Iran embroiling pretty much the entire Middle East, worrying Russia and China and potentially affecting the daily lives of Europeans.

Tit for tat is likely to continue and, unchecked, could lead to wars nobody wants. Is there a way out? Can Europeans do something effective? The answer to both questions is “Yes”. (read more)

By the way, the Iranian missile tests were not only propagated with doctored pictures, they were a propaganda sham entirely.

Der Spiegel is preoccupied with Bush still, too. Gabor Steingart invites George Bush to take a walk and have a look at the real world, but

However, the president doesn’t want to understand and he doesn’t even want to go for a walk. That’s why at the meeting of the world’s eight most industrialized nations the most powerful man in the world had to have the world explained to him by seven less powerful leaders. They encouraged him to finally contemplate a future without oil, and they persuaded him that the aim of reducing CO2 emissions by 2050 was possible.

The US president didn’t lead, he followed. The world’s only superpower has seldom looked quite as small as it did this week. (read more)

The Guardian/Observer is voicing a desire for a normal relationship with the United States and sets it’s hopes on Barack Obama.

Barack Obama will arrive in Europe this week to a tumultuous reception. Europe – and the rest of the world – has watched in awe the amazing political theatre that has surrounded his bid to be America’s first black President. Should he win in November Obama’s priorities will be domestic ones but he also has a formidable opportunity to help recast America’s relationship with the world. It is this relationship which took such a battering during the Bush presidency as anti-Americanism took root across the globe (though not, it has to be said, in large parts of Africa where the current American President did much of his best foreign work). The euphoria surrounding his presidential bid offers him a brilliant opportunity to repurpose the relationship between America and the world. And all of us would benefit. (read more)

The Telegraph has a similar standpoint. Both Tory leader David Cameron and Prime Minister Gordon Brown will take whatever time it takes to meet Obama:

The Democratic presidential candidate is due to visit London as part of a major foreign tour of Europe and the Middle East but he has been unable to finalise his itinerary, leaving the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition dangling.

Downing Street officials are relaxed about the scheduling problems and say the government has made clear they are happy to accommodate the White House frontrunner whenever he can fit them in. The Tory leader, who has previously forged links with John McCain, Mr Obama’s Republican rival, is understood to be equally keen. (read more)

Well Gordon Brown can indeed use some glamour, he is almost as popular as George W. Bush and the coming elections will most probably put an end to his premiership.

I wish you all a good Sunday, grab a coffee and read. There is much more to be found where I found the articles above.

Hello from Europe – The Wednesday papers

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What have we got today? Obama and Berlin, “tough love” says Der Spiegel. Obama will probably win in a landslide, assumes the Financial Times. What is liberty to you? Positive or negative liberty? Johan Hari explains in The Independent. US exports to Iran at record high, The Guardian has the story. George W. Bush is the most underrated President ever! I couldn’t resist to post this article from The Telegraph – Opinion. Now, have a good read all!

Berlin is anxiously awaiting Barack Obama, Germans would vote for him without any second thoughts and there is no doubt, that some German politicians would love to bathe in the limelight along Barack Obama. Berlin’s mayor is one.

“Many Germans want to get to know him,” Ruprecht Polenz, chair of the foreign relations committee in the German parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It’s not just politicians, but the broader public. When the best possibility for that to happen is at this place, then I have no problem with it,” he said, referring to the Brandenburg Gate site.

Polenz’s comments come a day after a number of other German politicians came out in favor of allowing the Obama event, reportedly scheduled for July 24. Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said he would love to see the candidate hold a major trans-Atlantic speech in the heart of Berlin. “We will prepare a warm welcome for him and will undertake all measures necessary so that he can deliver his message in Berlin,” Wowereit said on German television.(read more)

But there is more to expect from the candidate than just pop star appeal:

It’s [therefore] unlikely that Obama will wax lyrical about Europe’s leadership on combating climate change or health insurance. And he won’t shy away from some “tough love” in his speech, said the advisor, noting that he would spell out clearly that Europe needs to assume more international responsibility, especially in Afghanistan, and perhaps in Iraq as well. (read more)

Some 74% of Germans would vote for Obama without any hesitation, but how many Americans will? The Financial Times hazards a guess. It is quite likely that he will win the general election in a landslide even.

When Democrats criticise John McCain, they first praise his honourable military record. When Republicans do the same to Barack Obama, many begin by conceding that he is an “attractive and talented candidate”.

Recent history says that Mr Obama will have to fight a bitter campaign if he is to scrape a narrow victory for the White House. But a number of independent operatives believe an Obama landslide is a growing possibility. (read more)

The sensation of freedom is ultimately an individual thing. When do you personally feel free? Johann Hari has some ideas about that and analyses the differences in positive and negative liberty. A controversy during a by election in the UK prompted this article.

Like opposing Robert Mugabe and cuddling puppies, everybody in Britain is theoretically in favour of freedom. But the battle in Haltemprice and Howden is a slap-in-the-face reminder that we fundamentally disagree about what freedom means – so we are increasingly shouting at each other across a chasm of miscomprehension. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin said there was an irreconcilable divide between those who believe in “negative liberty” and those who believe in “positive liberty.” He was right. The divide survives.(read more)

If I may add to what Johann Hari says. Negative liberty, the absence of restrictions has been a concept used widely by most neo-con small government proponents. The thing is, they are using it almost exclusively for economic matters. That theory is cut out for the rich and powerful, but cunningly targeted on the middle and working classes.  They are not so freedom oriented, when it comes to your civil liberties, aren’t they?

Change of topic. The Bush administration falls over itself in demanding sanctions agains Iran. During the Bush years the trade with Iran has grown dramatically.

Analysis of US government trade figures published yesterday by Associated Press revealed a near tenfold increase in US sales to Iran over the past seven years. Goods included cigarettes, aircraft spare parts, bras, musical instruments, films, sculpture, fur, golf carts and snowmobiles. Although the sums involved are small, the disclosure is a political embarrassment for the US, coming at a time when it has been putting pressure on European governments, banks and companies to cut ties with Tehran.

AP found data suggesting military equipment had been exported, even though there are sanctions to prevent this. The Treasury is still investigating but Rankin said initial findings indicated there had been no such sales and described the data as a “clerical error”.(read more)

In the light of this obvious cluelessness of his Administration, reading why President Bush is a great leader as opposed to a buffoon is all the more interesting. Sameh-El-Shahat seems to think so.

Whatever happened to leadership and honesty as presidential traits? I happen to believe that the only leader in the West to have these two admirable qualities in droves is the leader of the free world: George W Bush.

Yes, we’ve all heard the Bushisms and laughed at them but do you really think somebody supposedly that thick can make it to the top of the most sophisticated political system the world has ever seen?

No, and that is because Mr Bush is far cleverer than most of his predecessors. He may not have been a Rhodes Scholar, but he has the ability to reach out to his people and read them.(read  more)

This is satire, no?

Have a good day all of you. Hump Day and only two more to go until the weekend! Take care.

Letter Home – Liar’s War

When you see all the flags flying to celebrate the 4th of July, remember, there are still coffins draped with flags returning from a war based on lies. When you watch fireworks this holiday weekend, remember our troops who are facing real gun fire.

This is a truly beautiful song.

Remember who sent them to war and who wants to keep them at war and who didn’t vote to increase veteran benefits.

The three problems of John McCain

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There are few, if any doubts left that Senator Obama will be the challenger of Senator McCain for the White House. And John McCain’s candidacy is in trouble, even before it has lifted off. Up to a short while ago all the focus was on the Democratic primaries and John McCain could tour the country, flexing his muscles for the real fight virtually uncontested.

This is over and it merits a look at the weaknesses of John McCain that will leave his campaign wide open for defeat.

His first and foremost weakness is: He is a Republican candidate in an electoral environment that strongly favours the Democrats. Largely uncommented by the corporate media were the congressional special elections in 2008. Up to now, these Representatives were elected: Jackie Speier (D), Bill Foster (D), André Carson (D), Steve Scalise (R), Don Cazayoux (D), Travis Childers (D). See a pattern here ? Some may argue and are argueing that the Democratic led Congress has abysmal job approval rates, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes for Republicans, because they are part of that Congress, too. Expect independent candidates to have a strong showing in fall.

John McCain’s second problem revolves around his own homefront, too and is the flip side of the same coin. George W. Bush and his hard-core supporters. There are still 30% of Americans who approve of President Bush. That is many votes and John McCain cannot afford to lose them. There is a sizeable chunk of Republican voters, who are tieing their votes to issues like abortion and gay rights. And these voters are less than impressed by McCain’s maverick stance of former years, so John McCain was still losing primary votes to Mike Huckabee, even after he was the presumptive nominee.

Result: While the Republicans are hemorrhaging votes on the moderate side of the spectrum due to Bush’s desastrous presidency, McCain opens new wounds on the right.

John McCain’s third and biggest problem is Barack Obama. You couldn’t invent a race with more different candidates if you tried hard. McCain would be the oldest President at the time of his inauguration, Obama is a quarter of a century younger. John McCain is not fully disclosing his health records, and that is, given his history of health problems, really a bothering fact. Obama is young and apparently healthy, so the question is simply not asked. Obama is a 21st century person and John McCain is firmly rooted in the 20th century. John McCain will not be able to shake the Iraq war off, Obama was against the war from the beginning and doesn’t have this problem to begin with. And, on the purely material side. Obama has the most outstanding campaign funding machine and John McCain’s a pauper in comparison. Obama is running a grass roots campaign bringing out new voters that have not voted before. I think it is safe to assume, that nothing a Republican candidate has to offer will bring out new voters in droves this year. Seeing the historic impact of an Obama presidency, John McCain’s advertising strategist Mark McKinnon made good on his vow not to lead a campaign against Senator Obama, because: [Mr. Obama’s election to the presidency] “would send a great message to the country and the world.”. If he says that..

I am not saying this is going to be a landslide affair for Barack Obama in November. There are troubles ahead for Senator Obama as well. There is after all, as Hillary Clinton couldn’t stop pointing out and thus legitimatising the notion, a part of the electorate not prepared to vote for, let’s face it, an African American. This can be overcome at least partly by bringing out new voters and some of those who can’t bring themselves to vote for Obama will not vote for McCain either, but rather stay at home. But, I think, John McCain’s problems are insurmountable really. The November elections are Senator Obama’s to lose, let’s just hope he doesn’t.

Bush’s appeasement speech angers Europeans, too.

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Without even a hint of any sense for history Bush went to the Knesset of all places to utter political slurs, that have no roots whatsoever in historical facts. Well, what would we expect from him, after the last years. It took someone like Matthews to point out the utter cluelessness of people propagating this nonsense.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed in European newspapers either and they are not lost for words over this:

The Guardian voices its outrage most prominently, calling Bush a “President without Shame”:

It is outrageous for an American president to use the term “appeasement” in describing the policy of an opponent when speaking before the parliament of a foreign nation. Democrats have rightly reacted with deep anger to this affront. It seems that when it comes to American traditions, George Bush is content to play Samson and topple the pillars of the temple in order to smash precedents he dislikes. What he forgets is that Samson not only killed his enemy, the Philistines, but himself as well.

Bush’s interminable and self-destructive presidency will continue to be so till the bitter end. And if he can topple the campaign of his political enemy, he’s prepared to bring the walls down on himself as well. So ends one of the most shameful of American presidencies.

The Telegraph was in the process of commenting on the lapel pin controversy they were carried away enough to post an update to call Bush’s slur outrageous:

Midday update: Mr Obama has just started to speak in South Dakota. He is denouncing President George W Bush’s frankly outrageous appeasement slur in Israel. And yes, he’s wearing an American flag pin…

The Independent is hardly less outspoken:

On yesterday’s evidence Mr Bush is prepared to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to do whatever it takes to keep Mr Obama out of the White House.

Even The Times is nothing if not vitriolic commenting:

I can’t help but think that all this might be proof of something Newt Gingrich suggested a couple of weeks ago. if Republicans think they can win this election by attacking Obama on the usual grounds that he’s a weak-kneed friend of terrorists and appeasers, they are sorely wrong. The Republicans’ own record on national security is now so badly damaged that for them to claim that the Democrats can’t be trusted sounds to most ears like that old definition of chutzpah – the child who murders both his parents and then claims the law’s protection because he’s an orphan.

Well, its some 248 days left (+ 37 hrs, I think) and if he keeps voicing his inanities, he’ll digg deeper, faster and more effective than anyone before him. Oh and take the red button away from the guy, please!

A Post-Bush/Cheney To-Do List

via: OpEdNews
by Rob Kall (executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews)

As soon as Bush slithers out of the Whitehouse, the next president, presumably a Democrat, unless the Dems totally screw up, will have a huge cleanup job.

Hillary and Barack both talk about the mess they’ll need to clean up. It would be useful to put together a list of things to-do, to recover from the Bush-Cheney disaster.

Here’s my shot at it. I’m hoping you’ll help fill it in using the comments.

-Get projections of the impact of continued problems caused by Bush Admin policy and widely report them as soon as possible so the public knows what to expect and who to blame.

-Reach out to leaders who are further left than your inner circle in building your team. Liberals and progressives are a growing portion of the population. If Obama is the winner, then part of his defeat of Hillary will be a repudiation and rejection of the right wing DLC policies she championed.

-Dump all of Bush’s political appointees. Do it immediately, in the first weeks in office. These political hacks, many former directors or lobbyists for industries they are supposed to regulate, have little or no retention value. Fire them all on Day One. Use career employees temporarily, replacing them with qualified appointees as soon as possible. Draw upon leaders who have advocated for stronger regulation.

-Urgently re-evaluate all the most important statistics used to report key numbers the people, businesses, industries and others depend upon. Identify changes in policies for calculating those numbers. Assume that Bush and Cheney have used statistics and revisions of the way things are counted to mislead and lie. Re-calculate them using the older, former formulae and policies to see just how bad the situation is, compared to the lies, distortions and deceptions Bush and company have perpetrated.

-Call for whistleblowers. Declare a period where whistleblowers are safe from repercussions and will be secure in their jobs. Ask them to identify any partisan activities, any policies of hiding or partially reporting important information. Congress should hold hearings on this. Whistleblowers should be offered large rewards for coming forward.

Read entire article.. (Excellent!! Lengthy, but thorough list!)

George WTF Bush: Then and Now

Ten years ago, our soon-to-be fearless leader was upright, chipper, heathy-looking, and pert-near articulate!

And now we have this, from PTSD (SATIRE)

Bush to Saudis and Egyptians: Let My People Go on Your Oil
By R J Shulman

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Before leaving the Middle East, a land full of rich photo ops, President Bush pleaded with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt to produce more oil. “Just like in Biblical times,” the President said, “when those that walked like an Egyptian didn’t allow the Jewish folks to have leavened bread and made them eat bagels and lox instead, we need their predecedents to open up the spigots and produce more oil barrels.” Saudi Arabia responded by saying that governments shouldn’t get involved with business decisions and should trust market forces. Bush apparently didn’t counter that argument, as it has used that reasoning in its own regulation of business.

“I was surprisicated,” Bush said privately, “as I offered everybody, the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Israelis lots of weapons. I fully expected with all the weapons I’ll be sending that part of the world that by the time I’d left, the Middle East would be up in arms, way up in lots of arms.”
**banging head on desk**