Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bush and Cheney's New World Order. . .

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them
By Mark Crispin Miller, AlterNet. August 31, 2004

A powerful excerpt from Miller's book, "Cruel and Unusual," arguing that Bush is inching us toward a theocratic White House.

Following is an excerpt from Chapter 6, The Clear and Present Danger, from Mark Crispin Miller's book, "Cruel and Unusual: Bush and Cheney's New World Order."

Cruel and Unusal Cover   The radical collapse of all distinction between church and state and the promotion of an angry "Christianity" as the USA's official state religion have grown increasingly apparent as the Bush regime has turned more grandiose and reckless after 9/11.  That revolutionary program has gradually come into view despite the press's failure to expose it, and despite the random efforts of the White House to conceal it ("Well, I – first of all, I would never justify – I would never use God to promote policy decisions," Bush said, without conviction, to Brit Hume in an interview on September 22, 2003).  A cursory survey of Bush/Cheney's foreign and domestic innovations will make clear that from the start, this regime has been hard at work transforming the United States into a theocratic system, and, globally, at the gradual creation of a nominally Christian New World Order.

Although the president made quite a show of mounting no rhetorical attack on Islam or on Muslims in the dark days after 9/11, as if to reassure the world that the United States was not intent on waging a religious war, that tolerant pose was shortly overwhelmed, those words of peace obliterated, by much graphic counter-evidence. The United States was obviously mounting a "crusade" – as Bush himself so tactlessly announced on September 16, 2001.  All he meant was "a broad cause," Ari Fleischer reassured reporters two days later, and yet Muslim residents of the United States (and of Afghanistan) could not be blamed for thinking otherwise.  At once John Ashcroft's troops began to sweep illegally through Muslim neighborhoods, hauling off "suspected terrorists" by the hundreds and treating them as enemy aliens, and there was like harassment by police departments all across the country.

Soon, moreover, some of Bush's best-known co-religionists and sometime spiritual advisers started venting anti-Muslim propaganda.  Franklin Graham called Islam "a very evil and very wicked religion," and Pat Robertson, who compared the Koran to "Mein Kampf," declared, projectively, about the Muslims: "They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy."  Said Jerry Falwell: "I think Muhammad was a terrorist."  The White House offered no rebuke.

Bush himself has carefully avoided venting such anti-Islamic sentiments in public.  He has also tried not to repeat the word "crusade," or otherwise betray the war-like zeal that motivates his strain of Christianity.  At this he has been less successful, unable, as he is, to mask his true intentions and desires.  Five months after urging his "crusade" on 9/16, he did it once again in speaking to our troops in Anchorage.  (The Canadians, he said, "stand with us in this incredibly important crusade to defend freedom, this campaign to do what is right for our children and our grandchildren.")  I am not a fanatic, Bush sometimes tries to say – and then, as ever, contradicts his wan pretense at moderation and humility with some insanely grandiose remark.  "I'm surely not going to justify war based upon God," he awkwardly assured Bob Woodward.  However, Woodward also reports the president's explanation for his refusal to consult his dad for guidance: "You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength.  There is a higher father that I appeal to."

God told him to run for president, Bush says, and God told him to strike al Qaeda, and God told him to occupy Iraq.  "I haven't suffered doubt," Bush said to Woodward (adding, without irony, "I hope I'm able to convey that in a humble way").  For all his weak demurrals, Bush does in fact perceive the "war on terrorism" as a new crusade, as a member of his family makes explicit:

    George sees this as a religious war.  He doesn't have a p.c. view of the war.  His view of this is that they are
    trying to kill the Christians.  And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than
    they will ever know.

Of course, it would be comforting to see this only as a case of individual mania, which reasonable people – Christian and non-Christian – might shrug off.  And yet this is no laughing matter, as Bush is not alone in his apocalyptic frame of mind, but aided and abetted very powerfully.  Having variously seized our nation's government, the GOP also pursues "religious war."

In a fund-raising letter mailed on March 3, 2004, Marc Racicot, director of the Bush/Cheney's "re-election" drive, again deployed the c-word, Muslim perceptions notwithstanding: "From leading a global crusade against terrorism to signing into law two of the largest tax cuts in history," the letter reads, "[Bush] has provided strong, steady leadership during difficult times."  Questioned by reporters, Racicot was unapologetic, claiming that the word need not denote a holy war. However, he then sounded something like a holy warrior himself, in offering the ecstatic statement that the letter's focus, and therefore Bush's goal, is "to protect the cause of freedom – not just for a moment, not for a day, not for ten years, but for a hundred years."  Although he stopped short of "a thousand years," that millenarian utterance would have come as no surprise.

Apparently the U.S. military also is on board for Bush & Co.'s grand new drive against the Saracens.  The spirit of crusade shines forth from the hearty countenance of Army Lieutenant General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who caused a momentary stir by giving talks, sometimes in his military uniform, at fundamentalist churches, where he would call America "a Christian nation," assert that Bush had been "appointed by God," and tell the rapt believers that our enemy in the "war on terrorism" is "a guy named Satan." Christians believe in "a real god," whereas the god of Islam is "an idol."  He would also show the audience a photograph that he had taken in Somalia, clearly demonstrating "a demonic spirit over the city of Mogadishu."  That Bush & Co. did not replace or even reprimand the general (who did not apologize, insisting, quite sincerely, that he was "not a zealot") stood out as mere further evidence of just how militant the regime's Christian doctrine really is.

Shortly after the invasion, U.S. troops stationed in Iraq received a booklet called "A Christian's Duty," adjuring them to pray for Bush and even mail the president a special tear-out form assuring him that, while dodging potshots and firing on civilians, they were praying for him. Meanwhile, the ravaged theater of the occupation has been overrun by Southern Baptist missionaries seeking to exploit Iraqi misery for Jesus' sake.  Laden with clean blankets, bottled water, bread, and bandages – and countless Bibles – the Christian soldiers of the International Mission Board (IMB) use such material inducements to convert as many Muslims as they can, waging what their Web site calls a "war for souls":

    Southern Baptists must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq...  Even as Islamic leaders
    try to tighten their grip on the country and its people, cult groups like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses
    are sending hundreds of their missionaries into Iraq to spread their pseudo-Christianity.

Muslims have been horrified by such spiritual carpetbagging.  "The Iraqi people are in a state of siege – they lack, food, water, everything – and to come to exploit it and to give it in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord is unacceptable," Ali Abu Zarkuk of the American Muslim Council told the BBC in April of 2003.  "You will be perceived as either dying by the bullet or dying by the Bible through Muslim eyes." Eight months later, Islamic terrorists in Yemen bombed the Jibla Baptist Hospital, killing all three mission workers, and thereby inflicting "the worst tragedy in the 156-year history of the IMB," reported APB News in December 2003.  The U.S. Christian presence has amounted to a dangerous provocation in Iraq, although our press has rarely mentioned it.

Bloody are the consequences also of the U.S. government's impossibly hard line on Israel – a partiality dictated less by well-connected Zionists inside the Pentagon than by the president's millennial co-religionists, who call the shots in this administration.  On July 14, 2003, Condoleezza Rice met secretly with 40 "Christian Zionists," including Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and Tom DeLay, to hear their views about a future Palestinian state.  (They opposed it.)  Such confabs are routine.  In May 2004, a stray e-mail revealed that Elliott Abrams, the National Security Council's major expert on the Middle East, regularly holds long meetings with the Apostolic Congress, "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital."  Asked why the Congress deems itself "the Christian Voice," rather than a Christian voice, Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton answered, "There has been a real lack of leadership in having someone emerge as a Christian voice, someone who doesn't speak for the right, someone who doesn't speak for the left, but someone who speaks for the people, and someone who speaks from a theocratical perspective."

Thus prompted, Bush has given up all possibility of honest mediation, in favor of the Manichaean paradigm that dominates his consciousness and theirs: Israeli violence is good, and Palestinian violence is evil.  This apolitical and antidiplomatic view is based entirely on the dictates of apocalyptic Christian eschatology: The Jews must stay in Israel so that a number of them (i.e., 144,000) can turn into Christians prior to Jesus' return.  On the basis of Romans 9-11, Reconstructionist Greg Bahnsen prophecies the magical effect of Jewish mass conversion:

    When the world sees "all Israel" become saved (through Jewish longing for the saving blessing experienced
    by the Gentiles), there will be yet further and greater blessings from God upon the whole population of the
    world because Christ will then be internationally recognized and exalted among men.

On July 30, 2003, Bush & Co. proclaimed the apocalyptic basis of its Israel policy by having Tom DeLay heat up the Knesset with a faith-based message of eternal nonconciliation:

    The war on terror is not a misunderstanding.  It is not an opportunity for negotiation or dialogue.  It's a
    battle between good and evil, between the Truth of liberty and the Lie of terror.

    Freedom and terrorism will struggle – good and evil – until the battle is resolved.  These are the terms
    Providence has put before the United States, Israel, and the rest of the civilized world.  They are stark,
    and they are final.

That the White House would permit a congressman and Christian Reconstructionist – and, at foreign policy, a frothing amateur – to make so visible and partisan a public statement on and in the Middle East suggests that faith, not reason (and not Colin Powell), drives Bush/Cheney's foreign policy.  And the result has been predictably disastrous: Israeli/Palestinian relations at their worst, the death toll at unprecedented levels, extremists on both sides resolved and popular among their own, and mounting worldwide hatred for the Jews.

Stateside, meanwhile, the theocrats continue to exert their wonder-working powers, as they have been doing ever since the president's first public act, which was to make John Ashcroft his attorney general.  That step alone should have made clear to all that Bush was no "uniter" but averse to "reaching out," and, indeed, uninterested in solving any worldly problems, dedicated as he is to stealthily theocratizing this republic.

Thus the White House has an "Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives," while each of the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Health and Human Services, et al., boasts a departmental "Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives" – a grand administrative stroke that blurs the crucial line dividing church and state.  This move has served both to legitimize the political activism of pro-Bush churches and denominations and to further propagate the view that social services should be performed not by the government but by religious groups, whose charity should take the place of federal programs.  Although advertised as purely altruistic, and as an equal boon to the communities served by churches, synagogues, and mosques alike, this innovation is primarily intended to abet the proselytizing efforts of the Christian right, whose "armies of compassion" can now save souls under the auspices of Uncle Sam.

Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media studies at New York University and the author of The Bush Dyslexicon.  He lives in New York City.

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What - In Reality - Is "The Choice" Nov. 2nd?

For The Left, And The Right, Bush did "unite."
His policies have caused both sides to come together, but not with each other, but rather as in circle-the-wagons against each other.  ("United We Stand, Divided We Fall?")

At the least his strategy of divide-and-conquer has energized the American political mind to re-awaken.  Americans are more politically aware than they have been for decades.  There is more acceptance, and/or tolerance, of political discussion/debate within social situations in America, at a level not seen since the mid-'60s through the early '70s. . .

But this political "re-awakening," which isn't complete yet, might be "too little, too late" to stop the ongoing privatization of our government into the hands of the corrupt few.  If Americans allow this insanely-openly Evangelical Christian corrupt/opportunistic corporate administration to be "re-elected" in November. . .  The very fact that it is possible that it could happen, more than any indicator, proves just how close the world is to losing the unique American Democracy, and to the establishment of an out-of-control global corporate "Empire."

But whichever side "wins" the American presidential election, the facts are that there are going to be "resource wars," mainly for the control the dwindling supplies of oil/gas, clean water, food, and land.  There is no political conspiracy in this.  The planet is simply running out of supplies of these resources, and we humans have no choice but to deal with it.

The "how" of "how we deal with it" is the question, not to mention "when" we deal with it.  It is in reality, "the choice" Americans are making in this presidential election.

Isn't it?

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Monday, August 30, 2004

Humor Speaking Serious. . .

Tom Tomorrow

Kirk Anderson

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From the t r u t h o u t Environment Editor. . .

Get Ready for the Peak Experience
By Kelpie Wilson - t r u t h o u t Perspective - Monday 30 August 2004

When history looks back, 2004 will turn out to be a remarkable year, and not just for the unraveling of the lies and deceits of the Bush presidency. Equally as significant is the emergence into public prominence of certain scientific facts that have long been suppressed.

Two new realities are fast converging on the public consciousness with what may be serendipitous timing: climate change and peak oil. After years of controversy and denial, there finally seems to be a solid consensus that climate change is here, it threatens everything from agriculture to human health, and it will probably turn out to be even worse than predicted.

Peak oil is a still obscure term you will soon be hearing a lot more about. It simply refers to the peak of oil production. Oil was made over millions of years as ancient life was crushed and buried under the earth, and they ain't making any more of it - at least not on any timescale that is meaningful to us - so like any limited commodity (think Picasso paintings or antique porcelain), the supply will rise to meet demand and then begin to fall. As supply falls, prices will go up, perhaps drastically.

Like a hiker climbing through clouds, we can't know where the peak is until we reach it and feel the ground falling away beneath our feet. But wait -- why are there clouds? Why can't we see the peak before we get there? Don't we have monitoring agencies that exist to make predictions about things like when the oil supply will peak?

As far as the average consumer and SUV buyer is concerned, the climb has been a stairway to heaven. The coming decline in oil production is something rarely mentioned in public, and when it is, it is portrayed as something so impossibly far off in the future that there is no sense in talking about it. The obscuring clouds have been deliberately generated by a collusion of oil industry, financial and government interests. They don't want us to know that we are about to fall off the world as we know it.

So I was mildly shocked to hear Texas oilman and corporate raider, T. Boone Pickens declare on NPR's Morning Edition last week: 'The peak is now.'

Pickens is certainly not the last word on peak prediction, but other serious analysts come close to his views. Petroleum geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, author of the breakthrough book 'Hubbert's Peak,' predicts the peak will fall on Thanksgiving Day in 2005. Others are more reluctant to pinpoint the peak and say it may be a few more years yet, but certainly before 2010. That's five, six years at the most to get our ducks in a row and ready to face a world of vastly accelerating oil prices.

Contrast this news with what governments and oil companies and have been saying. According to the US Energy Information Agency, oil production won't peak until 2035.

On the corporate side, British Petroleum publishes an annual Statistical Review of World Energy that is widely cited. Responding directly to the critics who point to an early peak, Lord Browne, chief executive for British Petroleum wrote in the latest edition of the Review that: "At current levels of consumption, there are sufficient reserves to meet oil demand for some 40 years and to meet natural gas demand for well over 60 years." There is no acceleration of oil depletion, he maintained.

But last week the Energy Institute of London released an independent analysis of BP's data showing that total world production declined by 1.14 million barrels a day last year. On top of that, the analysis found that the annual rate of decline is accelerating.

Oil companies do not want the word to get out. On August 24th, Shell Oil agreed to pay a $150 million fine for inflating its proven reserves by 4.5 billion barrels. Shell is the third largest oil company in the world and one fifth of their stated reserves were a lie. They did it to protect their stock value.

From the perspective of climate change, news that oil is peaking sooner rather than later is good news. We need to end the fossil fuel addiction anyway, and only higher oil prices will tilt the economics in favor of solar, wind and other renewables.

But we have got ourselves in a very dangerous situation. The potential exists for oil prices to increase quickly and radically. There won't be much time to manufacture the new energy infrastructure. Belt tightening will be needed. Economies could turn to dirty coal for a quick energy fix and the competition for the remaining oil could heat up into further wars.

For this reason, accurate widely disseminated information about energy is absolutely critical. At all costs, we must not allow the media game that went on with global warming to happen with peak oil.

A recent study ('Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the U.S. Prestige Press,' in Global Environmental Change) examined coverage of global warming in prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. The study found that these 'papers of record' responded to industry propaganda campaigns to discredit global warming by regularly setting up a handful of industry trained critics as 'balance' against the larger scientific consensus. Confusion reigned in the public mind, and a precious decade was lost.

Now Gaia is asserting herself. Seas are turning acid, corals bleaching; vapors and smoke are bleeding into the stratosphere where all is not well with the ozone skin. Massive forest fires, storms, floods and heat waves are waking people up. When the news comes in through your window, or tears off your roof - TV turns irrelevant.

This newfound awareness of global warming will be of great help as we attempt to quickly map out the path to a new energy future. As we climb down from the peak, the way is perilous and uncertain. There will be a temptation to go all out for extracting oil and gas from heavy oil shales, tar sands and coal. This will only dig us deeper into the global warming hole. Knowing that the hole is there will help keep us on the straight and narrow path to a truly renewable society based on solar, wind, hydro, tidal and biomass.

The new energy economy will be diffuse as different technologies are used to harvest the energy resources particular to each region. Solar and wind are low density energy sources and we will have to work harder for our energy. Oil's high energy density is what makes it possible for a handful of men to control it and the politics and economy of the world.

Many will wail and cry that the end of oil means the end of the American Dream. It could mean that, but only if we let it. The American Dream is not the endless accumulation of stuff and sprawl. The American Dream is not empire without end and the garrison state. The American Dream is freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

For too long, we and the world have been chained to the petro-dollar. New possibilities await. Let us go forward not in fear, but in the spirit of adventure.


Kelpie Wilson is the t r u t h o u t environment editor. A veteran forest protection activist and mechanical engineer, she writes from her solar-powered cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon.

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Past Numb Into Anger. . .

The "Why" of my Journey Past Numbness, Into Anger. . .

It just kept coming at us.  First the "stolen" election, the immediate raping of the largest surplus in our treasury's history, and the concurrent tax cuts for the rich, including the tax increases on the middle class, the $300 tax-back - that in reality had to be "paid back" the next year, packing the federal regulatory agencies with corporate deregulation zealots - Whom had spent their entire careers fighting the very agencies that they now controlled - for their controlling corporations - not for the "public good," the daily-dismantling of all environmental laws by said zealots and allowed by the congress, the breaking of almost all international treaties, The never-give-up breakdown of the separation of church and state so to benefit the "Evangelical Christian" ideology, then 9/11. . .

Then it got worse. . . .
 The surpression of dissent, the Project for a New American Century, the Patriot Act, aggressive-preemptive-war became "okay," the cowardly and complicit media caving into arrogant jingoism, the taking of war-powers out of the hands of congress into the hands of one person, the stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation, the pushing of insane bigots and/or evangelical fundamentalists into the federal Judicial branch, then the 2002 mid-term elections. . .

And again it got worse. . .  The full impact of "one-party-rule" and media corporate control got bolder, corporate scandals got buried, realization that several of the mid-term "surprise" elections were controlled and corrupted by corporations openly biased to the "winners," (i.e. in Nebraska and Georgia,) Then the war in Iraq. . .

And it again got worse. . .  The "Shock & Awe" 48 hours of bombings killing thousands of innocent Iraqis, the faked cheering Iraqis at the staged pulling down of Saddam's statue, the fake "Mission Accomplished" stunt, more tax cuts slanted towards the upper 2% - for the first time in our nation's history during war time and bad economy - Patriot Act II, No WMDs, revelations of lies, arrogant spinning of the lies got even worse, free-speech zones, arresting Americans for wearing a shirt or carrying a sign - on public property - showing a "disagreement" - arrested - for free-speech - in America, the having to sign "loyalty oaths" for an American citizen to be able to "get in" to see the president give a public speech - in a public place - loyalty oaths - in America, the corrupt and complicit media not saying "What's wrong with this picture?", the un-lawful detention of American citizens as "enemy combatants" without charges, without access to any due process, in America. . .

And still it got worse. . .  the exposure that our government condones torture - torture - not just torture of "enemy adults," but of common criminals, of even children - children - condoned, and rationalized, by American "leaders" of this administration - which heads the party of our now one-party-ruled corrupt corporatist government, etc.

Meanwhile. .  As all of that was/is going on, we approach another presidential election.  I see that even with all that has been revealed/exposed/proven - It is possible, as unbelievable as it may seem, to sane-rational people who have been paying attention, it is possible "they" could win the election.  Amazingly it seems, somehow, this is still a "close" race.  When I realized that these murderous corrupt corporatists, after all that has been shown to the American people, that we could actually put these insanely criminal ideologues back in control of what is left of our American Democracy - That was when I went from stunned/numb, directly into out-right anger.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Press Crimes Against Humanity. . .

The Daily News' Press Crimes Against Humanity
By Don Hazen, AlterNet. Posted August 28, 2004.

"New Yorkers, Full of Piss and Vinegar, Don't Fall for Media Scare Tactics"

Ok, I got your attention, tabloid style.  You've just had a small taste of the media manipulation dynamics at play in the Big Apple in the run up to what Time Out: New York has called: "The Barbarian Invasion."

In an editorial decision that boggled the mind of even the most cynical New York media watchers, The Daily News' huge headline on Thursday screamed, "Anarchists Hot for Mayhem: Police on Guard vs. Violent Tactics."  That headline was followed by an incredibly thin, "exclusive" story by Patrice O'Shaughnessy, based completely on unnamed sources in the police department.

Question: Is this reporter being used as a tool of the police propaganda machine?  The Daily News is a slightly more sane, more Democratic alternative to Rupert Murdoch's right-wing rag, The New York Post, but O'Shaughnessy's article beats the Post for its journalistic irresponsibility.  The article began, "Fifty of the Country's leading anarchists are expected to be in the City for the RNC... each of the 50 have at least 50 followers who are willing to arrested."

I wonder how the NYPD picked their top 50 – sounds like an idea they borrowed from the military with their Iraq deck of cards – and the 50 followers. Fifty has a certain symmetry – perhaps a numerologist picked it.

The New York Post must have felt the heat to compete with the Daily News for bad journalism.  The Post's Saturday edition led with "Two Nailed in Herald Square Subway Blast Plot," another story skimpy on the details with audacious claims, anonymous police quotes, and a stunning reference to what was likely a confidential memo from the federal government: "The threat was taken so seriously by officials, that it was mentioned this week in a Department of Homeland Security Memo."  ...Huh, mentioned in a memo?

This is exactly the kind of hysterical hit piece reporting – along with a slew of other media reports that have distorted the aims and intents of protesters – that activist leaders feared would dominate the news in New York City.  And these stories and many others like them have been repeated on local news shows as well.  In fact, protest leaders became so concerned about the distorted media environment that they took the unprecedented step of trying to engage journalists with a preemptive initiative to open up a dialogue on coverage.

An open letter released on Thursday urges the media to ensure fair, balanced and accurate coverage of the RNC demonstrations.  Organizers appealed to members of the news media to cover the upcoming protests with the utmost care and diligence.

The letter begins:

    "We write as representatives of peace and justice organizations that will convene in
    New York City during the Republican National Convention to express our dissent to
    the current administration's policies and practices, including the occupation of Iraq,
    attacks on our civil liberties, the impoverishment of our communities and the destruction
    of our environment.  We are concerned by the slant of some of the media coverage that
    has focused on potential violence or made unsubstantiated and sensationalist claims
    about the activists who will be demonstrating during the Convention."

The letter is signed by more than 50 prominent individuals representing peace, environmental, religious, immigrant, youth and community organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to the National Organization for Women to Military Families Speak Out.  The letter suggests several ways for journalists to ensure the most fair and balanced coverage of the dissent in the streets.  It urges reporters to:

– Scrutinize the behavior of law enforcement officials as well as demonstrators

– Not to repeat unsubstantiated allegations

– Depict the diversity of those in the streets

– Seek out personal stories that best convey the activists' issues

– Emphasize the actions and sentiments of the many, not the few.

"In the past, the media has focused on a few people burning an American flag or smashing a Starbucks window instead of the creative and non-violent actions of tens of thousands of concerned citizens," says Medea Benjamin of the women's peace group CodePink, who signed the open letter.  "We are urging the media to provide coverage that reflects the passionate, but non-violent commitment of the majority."

"We understand that the job of reporters is to provide interesting, compelling stories," says Andrea Buffa of the human rights group Global Exchange.  "Our movement is full of fascinating people with compelling stories, and we have happy to help journalists find those people."  Such compelling stories could include:

– Marchers from Iraq Veterans Against the War, former soldiers who are aghast at how their comrades are dying for what they say is a war built on lies.

– Demonstrators from September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, who decry what they say is the Bush Administration's cynical attempts to reap political gain from their personal losses.

– Workers from the Communications Workers of America, who oppose the Bush Administration's policies that favor giant corporations over working families.

The battle for the media frame in NYC will remain intense during the week of the convention.  The message of a beleaguered, terribly dangerous Manhattan that requires massive protection has been the dominant frame for days, starting with The New York Times' August 20 front page article "Anarchists are the Convention's Wild Card."

A good sign is that anti-Bush New Yorkers don't seem to be taking the fear bait.  They strongly support protest as essential to the vital fabric of the City, according to a Quinnipiac University poll issued on August 26th.  Seventy-one percent of the respondents support civil disobedience in Central Park – as long as would be nonviolent – believing it a time-honored tradition that ought to be protected.

"Most New Yorkers, 81 percent, approve of lawful demonstrations during the convention, and 68 percent approve of nonviolent civil disobedience, and 11 percent plan to go to a demonstration themselves," according to the Quinnipiac poll.  Most of the poll results make sense, since 70 percent said they disapproved of the job President Bush is doing, compared with 25 percent who approved.  But "19 out of 20 New Yorkers draw the line at violence," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, according to the Associated Press.  Two-thirds think the convention and the protests surrounding it will cause major disruptions, but just 10 percent plan to leave during the event, the poll said.  Half said they were worried about the convention being held in the city.

"The city is rolling out the red carpet for the Republican delegates, but most New Yorkers would roll out the green carpet of Central Park for the anti-Republican demonstrators," Carroll said.

Despite the positive numbers about protesting, the scare tactic oriented media coverage and messages from elected officials may have had an impact, since " 31 percent in the poll said they thought a major terrorist attack during the convention is "very likely" or "somewhat likely."

New Yorkers also seem fed up with Mayor Bloomberg for bringing the Republicans to town and for screwing the protestors, while kissing the butt of the visiting Republicans (although for one brief moment Bloomberg offered those wearing "peaceful protestors buttons" discounts at Broadway shows and restaurants like Appelby's – then promptly ran out of buttons).  According to the poll, as reported in AM New York, Bloomberg's approval rating dropped 5% in the past month to 44% – his lowest of the year.

The newspaper scene in New York makes for sometimes maddening, but lively coverage.  Whether or not you are in New York this week, be sure to check the tabloids (especially The New York Daily News and the New York Post, as they are interesting place to track the action).  Because the tabloids are mostly interested in ginning up the hysteria and producing shocking headlines and photos to sell papers, they go to where the action is.  And for the moment, before the Republicans really start their own show, the media scene is wide open.

Wednesday's audacious banner dropping on the facade of the Plaza Hotel received enormous press – the banner had an arrow pointing right with the word "truth" written above it and below it, "Bush" with an arrow pointing to the right.  Unfortunately, it looks like the protesters who did it face some major legal complications.  According to Liza Featherstone in the Nation:

    "The four activists are charged with felony assault because a police officer was injured
    trying to arrest them.  The officer was nowhere near any of the protesters when he injured
    himself falling through a skylight; in fact, the protesters standing on the Plaza roof had
    warned him that the skylight was broken and not to stand on it.  We hear that Dick Cheney
    was supposed to stay at the Plaza, so the Secret Service is upset with the NYPD for letting
    things get out of hand; embarrassed, the police are scapegoating the protesters with
    trumped-up charges.  The four protestors were let out of jail with no bail on Friday, but
    face major jail time.  The two men reported a harrowing time in the pen where other
    inmates stole their money and intimated them."

The tabloids have been giving broad coverage to creative and photo-op-style protests – hence the widely exposed "nude in" by Act up to protest the Bush's administrations AID policies – a photograph even landed in The New York Times.  Friday night's wild and wooly Critical Mass Bike ride, ending up in more than 260 arrests, got full front-page treatment in the Daily News.

Apart from the ride on friday night, the bikers also plan to ride around ground zero Saturday night for "Ring Out the Republicans," a protest expected to draw people ringing bells on the streets (the group suggests riders meet at Union Square before the march for details).  Time's Up! has also called for a Bike Bloc on Sunday in solidarity with the large Midtown antiwar march that's been organized by United for Peace and Justice.  Finally, Times Up! plans to devote Tuesday to civil disobedience.  All this could amount to a lot more coverage for the protesters, but it remains to be seen how the New York press will play it.

The bottom line is no city in America has as much local media as New York. NYC media is feisty, covers a wide range political positions, and is the target of the struggle for the message – the column inches and the air time – for thousands of protestors and pols, all of whom have a story to tell.

Don Hazen is the Executive Editor of AlterNet.

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Americans Killed in 2004, More Than in 2003, in Iraq

On Gadflyer, Thomas F. Schaller observes
that the number of Americans killed in Iraq in 2004 now exceeds the 482 killed in 2003.

2004 Iraq fatalities eclipse 2003
Thomas F. Schaller (6:06PM) link

It happened this week almost without notice: The number of Americans killed in Iraq during 2004 now exceeds the number killed in 2003.

More remarkably, the 488 killed thus far this year died in just 239 days (2.04 daily average), while the 482 killed last year died during 287 days in 2003 (1.68 daily average).  That means that not only has 2004 been bloodier than 2003 in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well.

Is this progress?  Is this stability and safety?

Now, here’s the question I really want to ask:  How long will it take the media to report this indisputable fact?  I mean, can they take even five minutes time from the latest, breathless Swift Boat twist to report the fact that more Americans have died in Iraq this year than last?

(Cross-posted on DailyKos.com

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

New Greg Palast Article

Greg Palast's latest article just posted

Greg Palast has just published a remarkable article reporting of a payoff that occurred concerning Bush's guard service. He has reported this before but the US press has refused to cover it. He has documentary proof on his website.

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Thom Hartmann at RNC

Hartmann Inside The RNC!

For those out there who are familiar with Thom Hartmann.
[ and those who aren't ]

Amazingly Thom Hartmann has gained access to the RNC and will be broadcasting his radio show from inside the convention.  You may listen live in the afternoon at radiopower.org or listen later to the archived show at The White Rose Society.

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Must Reads for August 27, 2004. . .

Michael Moore's Must Reads
for Friday, August 27, 2004

In a march organized by MOB (Mothers Opposing Bush), hundreds of people, mostly mothers and many toting small children, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest against -- you guessed it -- President Bush.

In most advanced countries, the government provides everyone with health insurance. So what's wrong with us?

Ain't no mountain high enough. Despite all the legal roadblocks put in its way, a massive march will protest the Republican National Convention in New York City.

Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul was among the first four suspected al Qaeda fighters held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to face criminal charges. Sounds simple?

Interrogation practices intended to be limited to captives held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan were approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez for use at Abu Ghraib. Didn't he understand that sanctioned torture in two foreign nations was enough?

Iraqi policemen rounded up dozens of journalists at gunpoint in a Najaf hotel and took them to police headquarters before later releasing them. Sound like freedom?

MPs are planning to impeach Tony Blair for "high crimes and misdemeanours" in taking Britain to war against Iraq, reviving an ancient practice last used against Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago.

A UN committee has found that sanctions imposed against al-Qaeda and the former Taleban have had little impact on the groups' operations. That might be true if you discount recruitment efforts.

A military plane carrying Vice President Dick Cheney came within almost half a mile of a small private plane over Bridgeport, Conn. Sounds dangerous.

A march that began at the Democratic Convention in Boston and ended Thursday in New York City, kicks off a week of protest.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

FindLaw's Writ - Barr: Chilling Political Speech. . .

FindLaw's - Barr: Chilling Political Speech
The FBI's Pre-Emptive Interrogations Of "Possible" Demonstrators

The FBI's Pre-Emptive Interrogations Of "Possible" Demonstrators: Chilling Political Speech

By BOB BARR - Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004

The FBI, no longer content with working to maintain order at political events, is now preemptively identifying and interrogating ("interviewing") possible demonstrators. It has summarized this strategy in a memo.

To make matters worse, the Department of Justice blessed the FBI strategy in its own memo - suggesting that no First Amendment concerns are raised by the interrogations.

As I will explain in this column, however, the truth is quite to the contrary: The strategy, as outlined in the memo, is a serious threat to free speech.

Back When Politics Was Fun, Protest Was Part of It

Throughout the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, and even to some extent during the Nixon years, politics was fun. At least, political protesting had its lighter moments. (Nothing was really fun during the dour Carter Administration, and George H.W. Bush's presidency was, well, pretty boring except for the First Gulf War.)

Who can forget the great costumes and Nixon face masks that appeared at many political rallies and other events during the 1960s and early 1970s? Reagan and Clinton masks, the latter sometimes adorned with long, Pinocchio-type noses, added color and a bit of levity to political demonstrations throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s. There was, in a word, tolerance.

Reagan, with his constant good humor, almost always disarmed protesters with his wit. Conservatives wearing anti-Clinton T-shirts frequently showed up at Clinton rallies. The worst they might face from the then-president's supporters were scowls.

This atmosphere didn't mean security was absent; it was very present. In the 1960s through the end of Clinton's second term in January 2001, everyone knew if you caused disruption, Secret Service agents would be on you in an instant, as they should be.

But during that period, you didn't feel you were doing something criminal if you simply decided to show up at a rally with a protest T-shirt on, or lugging around a sloppy paperboard sign criticizing the president. You didn't feel intimidated.

The Bush Administration: Squelching Disagreement and Dissent

Now, things are very different. The Administration and campaign of George W. Bush is squelching any possible hint of disagreement or protest at every political rally or gathering.

For example, people with T-shirts that hint at disagreement are not allowed anywhere near the events, nor even on the route traveled by the presidential motorcade. Think what they'd do to you if you showed up in a - shudder -- mask.

But it's gotten even worse than that.

The FBI's Preemptive Interrogation Memorandum

As the New York Times has reported, in an October 2003 memorandum to law enforcement agencies, the FBI expressed great concern over the possibility that marches and rallies in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco might become "violent, destructive, or disruptive."

The memo went on to urge law enforcement to monitor the Internet, because "protesters often use the Internet to . . . coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations." It also urged law enforcement to watch out for protesters who use cell phones to "coordinate . . . or update colleagues."

In the memo, law enforcement agencies at all levels of government are warned to be aware of "possible indicators of protest activity." Moreover, even though the memo does not cite any evidence of violence likely to take place at "possible protests," the Bureau's memo concluded by telling law enforcement agencies to "report any potentially illegal acts to the" FBI (italics added).

The Department of Justice Memo Blessing the FBI Memo

Doubtless, the Department of Justice, aware of the FBI memo, was concerned that it would be seen as urging law enforcement to begin monitoring persons who might be contemplating staging political protests protected by the First Amendment. So several months later, in April 2004 - as the New York Times also reported -- the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, issued its own memo - addressing, and dismissing, these constitutional concerns.

The memo came from DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). In the memo, OLC concluded, not surprisingly, that the monitoring, interrogating and gathering of evidence on potential political protesters raised no First Amendment concerns. In addition, it went on to conclude that even if, hypothetically, such activities did raise concerns, any "chilling" effect would be "quite minimal" and would be far outweighed by the overriding public interest in maintaining "order."

Evidence Suggests Protesters Are Subjected To Home and Office Interviews

No chilling effect? In the last few months, evidence has been mounting that special agents are showing up at the homes and offices of potential protesters - casting suspicion upon them in front of bosses, colleagues, family, friends and neighbors. This activity apparently has increased as the Republican Convention and the November election draw near.

If that's not a chilling effect, I don't know what is. The price of free speech should not be a high-profile FBI visit that makes all who know you wonder if you may be a criminal.

During these visits, the special agents "interview" the potential protesters to determine if they -- or anyone they know -- might be planning any political demonstrations. Of course, the "anyone they know" is especially worrisome - hints of McCarthyism.

Also according to the New York Times, the final question the FBI agents ask is this: Does the interviewee know that withholding information on whether they know anyone else who might be planning a demonstration or "disruption" is itself a crime?

One can only imagine how this parting shot plays out: "Oh, by the way, ma'am, before me and my armed partner here leave your house, we'd like to remind you that if you haven't told us if you know someone else who might be planning a demonstration, you have committed a crime and we can prosecute you for not telling us that. Have a good night, ma'am."

This, of course, is pure intimidation.

DOJ's Absurd Stance: Interrogation in Home or Office Is Not Interrogation

The FBI, seemingly, takes an absurdly narrow view of what kind of tactics would, in fact, chill speech - a view that excludes its own plainly chilling measures.

For instance, Joe Parris, an FBI spokesman, told the New York Times that, because "no one was dragged from their homes and put under bright lights," interviews of potential demonstrators are not "chilling."

So now we know the Administration's new First Amendment standard: So long as the government agents don't "drag you from your home" and interrogate you "under bright lights," you have nothing to complain or worry about.

The fact of the matter is, tactics such as those contemplated in last year's FBI memo, and approved by the Justice Department this past spring, do chill free speech. They do intimidate.

And, self-justifying memos by government lawyers notwithstanding, such tactics usher in an era of intolerance and fear that has no place in American politics.

Bob Barr served in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1995 to January 2003. He was a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. He now practices law, writes extensively, works with the American Conservative Union, and consults on privacy matters with the ACLU.

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NYers Support Protests

Poll: Most NYers Support Protests
by Associated Press - Thursday 26 August 2004

New York - Seventy-one percent of the city's registered voters think protesters should be allowed to demonstrate in Central Park during the Republican National Convention, and 11 percent plan to go to a demonstration themselves, according to a poll released Thursday.  Most New Yorkers, 81 percent, approve of lawful demonstrations during the convention, and 68 percent approve of nonviolent civil disobedience, the Quinnipiac University Poll found.  Nearly all disapprove of violent protests, according to the poll.

But the reality in America today is "fuck what the people want."

As proven by this. . .

by the Long Island, NY Newsday - Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Judge Blocks Central Park Protest

NEW YORK - A judge has denied a protest group's plea to rally in Central Park during the Republican convention.

Earlier, before the judge's ruling, the group indicated it would go forward with the Sunday demonstration even if the it was barred from the park.

"Whatever the judge rules about the rally site, United for Peace and Justice is continuing with our planned protest march," the group said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Full Article Link Here

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

It's The Issues, Stupid. . .

Gay marriage, celebrity trials, Michael Jackson, free speech zones,
family & administration backed lying political ads, a corporately
controlled corrupt media, the left wing media conspiracy, the vast
right wing conspiracy, protests equated to terrorism, loyalty oaths
to see your president at a public event, State Police intimidating
elderly black people who help get voters to the polls in Florida, old
terror intelligence presented as stark new info for the single purpose
to increase fear in the masses, and every other diversion that can be
produced to divert attention from the issues of import.

They will continue to continue doing it all - As along as it continues
to work for them, as long as Americans continue to allow them to do
it, as they are continuing to do it at this very minute.

Only 2 months to go.

What are the issues of import?

The largest deficit in American history.

Tax breaks for the few wealthy, during a "war time" bad economy.

Job losses at a level not seen in our history.

Jobs moved to other countries propagandized as "good" for America.

Health care as a right, not as a privilege.

Corporate cronys' controlling our federal regulatory agencies.

Corrupt corporate influence of our government.

Corporations with a proven record of corruption and crimes, with
off shore tax shelters, that do not pay any taxes into the American
treasury, given huge federal contracts.

A completely proven corruption of the American voting system by
proven corrupt corporations, and un-punished and un-corrected
2002 mid-term elections by said systems. (Proof? See this link.)

The, so far, successful ideological destruction of our cherished
Separation of Church and State.

The transfer of war powers from the congressional branch to the
executive branch of our government.

The Patriot Acts (both) destruction of American civil liberties.

A foreign policy of attack-first-question-never as policy, rather
than sane rational diplomacy.

The ongoing conflicts of interests between government leaders,
and the corporations that financially support them.

The "fuck-the-people" massive destruction of all environmental
laws, for the purpose of "profits and power" to the corporations,
and for no other reason.

These, and more, are the real issues of import, not the divisive
propagandized fake issues you are reading and seeing in the
American corporately controlled media.

People are dying, at levels not realized on this planet before in
its history.  Torture, genocide, and environmental destruction,
is happening right now as I write this, at an incomprehensible
level for any sane or rational person to absorb.

You and I both know it is true.  It has to be stopped.

Only 2 months before the single most important election in, not
only Americas history, but the entire planet's history.

Make sure your vote is counted correctly November 2nd.

Hang around the polls that day, be a witness to anything weird,
help other people to get there, spend a single day out of your
"busy" life to help Democracy remain, and thrive, in the face of
a determined, and criminally corrupt, corporate government.

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The Beginning. . .

From the creator of "The Old Hippie's Groovy Site" and the infamous "FYI v.xxx, n.xxx" email E-List, the natural progression of those two entities into the blogsphere.

This "The Old Hippie's Groovy Blog," just like its predecessor the "FYI" email E-List, and most of the content of "The Old Hippie's Groovy Site," will concern itself with the serious socio-eco-political happenings of interest and concern, to me. Mainly facts, observations and thoughts - mine, and others.

Let's get started. . .

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