Sunday, August 28, 2005

Gary Hart Speaks Out, Bush's worst Days lie ahead

Gary Hart, former senator and presidential aspirant, and with Warren Rudman one of the two chairs of the security commission whose warnings were ignored by the administration prior to Sep 11, has spoken out about the Democrats (Who will say, 'No More'?). Here are excerpts:

"Like the cat that jumped on a hot stove and thereafter wouldn't jump on any stove, hot or cold, today's Democratic leaders didn't want to make that mistake again. Many supported the Iraq war resolution and -- as the Big Muddy is rising yet again -- now find themselves tongue-tied or trying to trump a war president by calling for deployment of more troops. Thus does good money follow bad and bad politics get even worse."

Hart continues:

"History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war...But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on?

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken."

None of the Democrats in the Senate or House will come anywhere close to this. The most disappointing is Howard Dean, who is actually suggesting increasing troop strength!

Also in the Washington Post, an article by Colbert I. King, saying, "Bush's worst days are ahead". King says there are two tracks in progress -- while Bush goes around the country trumpeting the call to arms, Washington's officialdom is quietly resigning itself to a different reality, that Iraq will remain a violent, theocratic, spoils system after the Americans leave. One of the officials is quoted as saying (rough paraphrase), "We will not say a day longer than necessary. But necessary for us or for the Iraqis?"

From King's article:

"Consider the Iraq now unfolding on the ground.

What's the value of Americans giving their lives so that cleric-dominated Shiites and northern Kurds can get their hands on political power and oil revenue?

Why are American women and men sacrificing lives and limbs in a country where women may have to settle for less?

Stay the course. What course? So religious-based militia can divvy up the northern and southern portions of the country? So Islam can be enshrined as a principal source of new Iraqi legislation?

Are any of those things worth dying for? Do any of those likely outcomes represent an American victory? They certainly aren't why Bush said we went over there.

Okay, the Bush folks also promised us weapons of mass destruction, and greetings with rice and rose water, and Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction, and a model new democracy in the Middle East, none of which has happened.

But this is different.

President Bush is out selling a vision of victory in Iraq while U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad are resigned to settling for less. George Bush can't make good on his original promise, and they know it. They also know that more Americans are going to die in Iraq for what may end up as a theocracy-tinged spoils system.

When those carrying the burden of this war realize what they have sacrificed and died for, the worst days of George W. Bush will have just begun."

Monday, August 22, 2005

If 4 times is too much, what is 400 times? Mangal Pandey

Disparity and Democracy
Chinese scholars have warned that the rising income disparities in their country will undermine social stability by 2010.
From a news report:

Annual urban incomes that are due to surpass 10,000 yuan ($1,200) on average are growing twice as fast as those in the countryside, the China Daily said, citing a report commissioned by the Labor and Social Services Ministry.

Rural incomes linger at around 3,000 yuan ($370) per year.

"We are going to hit the red light scenario after 2010 if there are no effective solutions in the next few years," it said. The team uses blue, green, yellow and red light indicators to track income disparity trends, with red being most serious.
Just by way of comparison, the salary gap between an average American worker and his CEO is around 400 or thereabouts (turns out I was being conservative -- it was actually 500+ even in 2001, and has likely increased since then, see article by Neil Pearce). No wonder the war is fought and billions are spent in Iraq, while America parties on (see Bob Herbert's article in the New York Times, Blood runs Red, not Blue, or Niranjan Ramakrishnan's in Counterpunch (Shaming the Shameless).

John Kerry - Serial Blunderer
John Kerry has sent around an email asking the President to answer some questions, in his address to the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) at Salt Lake City, UT. Kerry has a bunch of questions for Bush (copied verbatim from Kerry's message):
  • When will the President get it right in Iraq?
  • When will he deliver to the nation and those sacrificing so much in Iraq a concrete plan for peace and victory?
  • Why, at this late date, is the Pentagon still struggling to get the right supplies and body armor to America's troops?
  • When will the President support a military large enough to face the challenges of today's world?
  • And when will the President stop short-changing America's veterans? When will he stop closing hospitals, cutting benefits, and making veterans wait weeks for a doctor's appointment?
Talk about limp... Nowhere in Kerry's message is Cindy Sheehan or the protest in Crawford mentioned. Get it right in Iraq? Give us a break. To think this was the alternative to Bush so many of us worked for! Makes you want to crawl under a doormat and disappear.

FSTV and Democracy Now!
I recently discovered Free Speech Television, a channel that features, among other things, an excellent 1 hour news broadcast called Democracy Now! While the Big 3 and the little 3 (CNN, Fox, MSNBC) talk about Eric Rudolph, BTK and Aruba, Democracy Now! gives hard news with good quality presentation and graphics too. I know it is on Dish Network, and I believe it is also available on Cable and Direct TV. You can go directly to their website at They have streaming video where the show is also available. No commercials, and solid news.

The Rising -- The Ballad of Mangal Pandey
I paid little attention to the new movie starring Aamir Khan, featuring the first rebel of the First Indian War of Independence of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny). But an article by Rajiv Rawat (The Rising of the Rising) brings out a contextual view of the movie, which, he claims, uses the metaphor of 1857 British imperialism in India to hold up 2003 American Imperialism in Iraq to scrutiny. Whether by design, or by ignorance (the latter is more likely) the American media have almost wholly ignored what Rawat claims is a technically flawless film.

Friday, August 19, 2005

If Bush's OK, why not Modi?

Arundhati Roy, in an interview, asks a salient question: If George W. Bush, mass murderer and war criminal, is acceptable enough to Manmohan Singh to pose with on the White House balcony, why should he criticize Narendra Modi? Read this wide ranging interview with S. Anand.

Another fine article, this one called, "There is such a thing as Too Late", by Ray McGovern, on the matter of speaking out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Satyagrahi is Born -- Shaming the Shameless

When history is written, I think Cindy Sheehan's act will be viewed as being in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi's Salt Satyagraha or Rosa Parks' defiance. See article by Niranjan Ramakrishnan with the above title.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cindy, Don and George

In this one article is captured the entire megatragedy of Bush, Cheney, the Democrats, Iraq, the deficit, and the deepening morass. Like a survey article in a professional publication, this is a complete yet concise rendition of where we are and the lies that brought us here. A few samples:
Bush on arriving for a meeting with families of the bereaved, including Cindy Sheehan and her husband on June 17, 2004: "So, who are we honoring here?"
Ellen Knickmeyer of the Washington Post reported last week that "a US general said ... the violence would likely escalate as the deadline approached for drafting a constitution for Iraq". For two years now, this has been a dime-a-dozen prediction from American officials trying to cover their future butts. For the phrase "drafting a constitution" in that general's quote, you need only substitute "after the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons" (July 2003), "for handing over sovereignty" (June 2004), "for voting for a new Iraqi government" (January 2005) - or, looking ahead, "for voting on the constitution" (October, 2005) and, yet again, "for voting for a new Iraqi government" (December 2005), just as you will be able to substitute as yet unknown similar "milestones" that won't turn out to be milestones as long as our president insists that we must "stay the course" in Iraq, as he did only recently as his Crawford vacation began.
Or this:
Iraq - you can't leave home without it - has, of course, been at the heart of everything Bushworld hasn't been able to shake off, at least since May 2, 2003. On that day (when, ominously enough, seven American soldiers were wounded by a grenade attack in Fallujah), our president co-piloted a jet onto the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier halted off the San Diego coast (lest it dock and he only be able to walk on board). All togged out in a military uniform, he declared "major combat operations" at an end, while standing under a White House-produced banner reading "mission accomplished".
Read the entire article by Tom Engelhardt for yourself on or at Asia Times.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Cost of War -- An Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

A beautiful letter from Ralph Nader to Cindy Sheehan: May you succeed where others have failed.

I had heard about this website before, called The Cost of War. Tells you precisely how much the war is costing, and relates it to hard facts -- e.g., how many teachers you could have hired -- in your own town -- for the corresponding proportion amount of money.