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12-03-05 This Was Posted At A Friends Web www.wwmeli.org/PostElection Good For You Glen For saying what so many of us have felt for so long. I for one have just stopped watching the NBC Today show, a while ago in disgust. Perhaps I should tune in at times again just to see what the new Right Wing Media has to say.
Glen’s Letter to the Today Show
Today Show be more to the right?
Well, yes it
could, it could be FOX news, but my issue as I was screaming at the TV this
morning is that it shouldn’t be to the Right or Left at all. You pretend to be
a news show with reporters and journalists, yet the show continually displays a
lean to the Right, and Ms. Couric should never be allowed to handle political
topics, because her obvious bias distorts the report. I have become intolerant
of her pressuring guests from the Left while lobbing softballs at guests from
the Right. Let me tell you about this morning’s Today supported propaganda
just to make an example. You began the show as you should have, examining the
presidents address yesterday about the war in
"You Can't Govern if You Don't
Believe in Government"
by Thom Hartmann
In a May 25, 2001 Morning Edition interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
Norquist got his wish. Democracy - and at least several thousand people, most of them Democrats, black, and poor - drowned last week in the basin of New Orleans. Our nation failed in its response, because for most of the past 25 years conservatives who don't believe in governance have run our government.
As incompetent as George W. Bush has been in his response to the disaster in New Orleans, he wasn't the one who began the process that inevitably led to that disaster spiraling out of control.
That would be Ronald Reagan.
It was Reagan who began the deliberate and intentional destruction of the United States of America when he famously cracked (and then incessantly repeated): "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
Reagan, like George W. Bush after him, failed to understand that when people come together into community, and then into nationhood, that they organize themselves to protect themselves from predators, both human and corporate, both domestic and foreign. This form of organization is called government.
But the Reagan/Bush ideologues don't "believe" in government, in anything other than a military and police capacity. Government should punish, they agree, but it should never nurture, protect, or defend individuals. Nurturing and protecting, they suggest, is the more appropriate role of religious institutions, private charities, families, and - perhaps most important - corporations.
Let the corporations handle your old-age pension. Let the corporations decide how much protection we and our environment need from their toxics. Let the corporations decide what we're paid. Let the corporations decide what doctor we can see, when, and for what purpose.
This is the exact opposite of the vision for which the Founders of this nation fought and died. When Thomas Jefferson changed John Locke's "Life, liberty, and private property" to "Live, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," it was the first time in the history of the world that a newly founded nation had written the word "happiness" into its founding document. The phrase "promote the general welfare" - another revolutionary concept - first appeared in the preamble to our Constitution in 1787.
Talk show cons and TV talking head cons and political cons - both Republican and DLC Democratic - repeat the mantra of "smaller government," and Americans nod their heads in agreement, not realizing the hidden agenda at work.
Reagan was the first American president to actually preach that his own job was a bad thing. He once said, "Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." One can only assume he was speaking of himself and his fellow Republicans, and certainly the current Congress's devotion to the interests of inherited wealth and large corporations displays how badly his philosophy has corrupted a role so noble it drew idealists like Jefferson, Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts.
But cons can't imagine anybody wanting to devote their lives to the service of their nation. The highest calling in their minds is to make profit.
As Reagan said: "The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away."
This mind-set - that the only purpose for service in government is to set up the interests of business - may account for why not a single military-eligible member of the Bush or Cheney families has enlisted in their parents' "Noble Cause," whereas all four sons of Franklin Roosevelt joined and each was decorated - on merit - for bravery in the deadly conflict of World War II.
There are, after all, no reasons in the conservative worldview for government service other than self-enrichment. As Ronald Reagan said: "Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."
What they don't say is that the reason they want to remove government in its protective capacity is because they can then make an enormous amount of money, and have a lot of control over people's lives, when they privatize former governmental functions. They want a power vacuum, so corporations and the rich can step in. And with no limits on the inheritability of riches after the "death tax" is ended, wealth vast enough to take over the government can emerge.
Given this conservative world-view, it shouldn't surprise us that in 2001 George W. Bush appointed his 2000 presidential campaign manager (Joseph Albaugh) as head of FEMA, or that two years later Albaugh would have left FEMA to start a consulting firm to marry corporations with Iraq "reconstruction" federal dollars, and put in charge of FEMA his assistant (and old college roommate), an equally unqualified former failed executive with the International Arabian Horse Association.
It also shouldn't surprise us that although Dick Cheney has stayed on vacation in Wyoming through all of this, his company, Halliburton, has already obtained a multi-million-dollar contract to profit from Hurricane Katrina's cleanup.
It's not that these conservatives are incompetent or stupid. When their interests are at stake, they can be very efficient. Consider when Hurricane Charley hit Jeb Bush's state - a year earlier than Katrina - on the second weekend of August, 2004, just months before the elections. The White House website notes:
As of noon Monday [the day after the hurricane left], in response to Hurricane Frances, FEMA and other Federal response agencies have taken the following actions:
- About one hundred trucks of water and 280 trucks of ice are present or will arrive in the Jacksonville staging area today. 900,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat are on site in Jacksonville, ready to be distributed.
- Over 7,000 cases of food (e.g., vegetables, fruits, cheese, ham, and turkey) are scheduled to arrive in Winter Haven today. Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) are on the ground and setting up comfort stations. FEMA community relations personnel will coordinate with DMATs to assist victims.
- Urban Search and Rescue Teams are completing reconnaissance missions in coordination with state officials.
- FEMA is coordinating with the Department of Energy and the state to ensure that necessary fuel supplies can be distributed throughout the state, with a special focus on hospitals and other emergency facilities that are running on generators.
- The Army Corps of Engineers will soon begin its efforts to provide tarps to tens of thousands of owners of homes and buildings that have seen damage to their roofs.
- The National Guard has called up 4,100 troops in Florida, as well as thousands in other nearby states to assist in the distribution of supplies and in preparation for any flooding.
- The Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Defense together have organized 300 medical personnel to be on standby. Medical personnel will begin deployment to Florida tomorrow.
- FEMA is coordinating public information messages with Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina so that evacuees from Florida can be informed when it is safe to return.
- In addition to federal personnel already in place to respond to Hurricane Charley, 1,000 additional community relations personnel are being deployed to Atlanta for training and further assignment in Florida.
All of this aid was vitally important to Bush family political fortunes in the upcoming election of 2004. Disaster relief checks were in the mail within a week. In just the first thirteen days after Hurricane Charley hit Florida, the White House web site notes that the Bush administration had succeeded in:
- Registering approximately 136,000 assistance applicants
- Approving over 13,500 applications for more than $59 million in housing assistance
- Establishing 12 disaster recovery centers, which have assisted nearly 19,000 disaster victims
- Deploying medical teams that have seen nearly 3,000 patients
- Disbursing 1.2 million liters of water, 8.1 million pounds of ice, and 2 million meals and snacks
- Delivering over 20,000 rolls of plastic sheeting and nearly 170 generators
- Treating more than 2,900 individuals through FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, supporting damaged hospitals
That, of course, was for a Republican State, with a Republican governor, the crony brother of the President. Republicans needed to act like they cared about governing, because they wanted people to vote for them three months later.
But now, with no election looming and with death stalking a Democratic State with a Democratic Governor unrelated to the President, we once again see the Reagan philosophy held ascendant.
Bush's call to action? "Send cash to the Red Cross." One of those "thousand points of light" non-governmental organizations his father told us about.
As Brian Gurney, a listener from California, noted: "You can't govern if you don't believe in government."
But you sure can make a buck, and take care of your brother, your campaign manager, and your vice president's company.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a
Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, host of a daily progressive
talk radio show syndicated nationally by Air
America Radio, and host of a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ
in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com
His most recent books are "The
Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal
The People," "The
Edison Gene", and "What
Would Jefferson Do?"
Cindy Sheehan continues to ask George W. Bush what the "Noble Cause" was for which her son died in Iraq, and why Bush's daughters haven't enlisted in this Cause.
While Bush talked to us about WMDs, an imminent "mushroom cloud," and tried to link Saddam and Iraq to 9/11 (when it was 14 Saudis who hit the World Trade Center), those all fell apart and were exposed (by no less than Paul Wolfowitz) as intentional lies. When Bush shifted his Noble Cause to invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi people, the Downing Street Memo told another story. And now, also, so does Bush's first biographer.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004.
It's apparently just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of America.
This is why the greatest political threat that Cindy Sheehan represents to George W. Bush and his Republican Party is in her ability to point this out.
So far, Cindy has only done this once, but it had a powerful impact on those who heard her. Speaking before Congressman John Conyers' investigative commission on the war in Iraq, Sheehan said:
"My son, Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, was killed in action in Sader City, Baghdad, on 04/04/04. He was in Iraq for only 2 weeks before L. Paul Bremer inflamed the Shiite militia into rebellion, which resulted in the deaths of Casey and six other brave soldiers who were tragically killed in an ambush. My friend Bill Mitchell, the father of Sergeant Mike Mitchell who was one of the other soldiers killed that awful day, is here with us today.
"This is a picture of my son Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him Edward G., short for Edward G. Robinson.
"How many of you have ever seen your child in his or her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heart-breaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby laying in his bassinet.
"The most tragic irony is that if the Downing Street Memo proves to be true, Casey and thousands of people should still be alive.
"I believe our leaders invaded Iraq in March 2003 -- I believe before our leaders Iraq in March 2003, and I am even more convinced now, that this aggression on Iraq was based on a lie of historic proportions and was blatantly unnecessary.
"The so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected, the leadership of his country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence. Iraq was no threat to the United States of America, and the devastating sanctions and bombing against the Iraq were working.
"As a matter of fact, in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'
"It looks like George Bush was ready to lead this country into an avoidable war even before he became President.
"From the expose of the Downing Street Memo and the conversations with George Bush from 1999, it seems like the invasion of Iraq and the deaths of so many innocent people were preordained.
"It appears that my boy Casey was given a death sentence even before he joined the Army in May 2000."
Mickey Herskowitz - a Texan and longtime friend of the Bush family - had been hired to write the first draft of Bush's autobiography, now in print under the title "A Charge To Keep." In citing Bush's determination to invade Iraq to gain "political capital" even before he was appointed to the Presidency in 2001, Sheehan was quoting an article by Russ Baker, who extensively interviewed Herskowitz. Baker noted:
Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. 'Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker.'"
Oil, to the Bushies, would be a nice bonus. So was the possibility of greater security for Israel and other allies in the region, and a staging ground for possible future military action in Iran and Saudi Arabia. And let's not forget those profits for Halliburton and other big Republican contributors.
But the main reason Bush invaded Iraq, it turns out, was so Republicans could take back the US Senate in the election of 2002, and Bush could finally win an election in 2004.
As Bush himself said two days after the election, in a press conference on November 4, 2004:
"And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it..."
In the mind of George W. Bush, accumulating political power -- political capital -- is a Noble Cause. Whether America's veterans and grieving families will agree is another matter entirely.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?"
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------08-15-05 Jefferson Would Have Stood With Cindy Sheehan
Nationally, it was clearly a phenomenon when several truckers called into my radio show on Sirius Satellite to say that they were interrupting trips through central parts of the USA to head to Crawford, Texas. One even reported live as he experienced a (friendly) reception by the local sheriff, who helped him find a place to park his rig. Locally here in Oregon, it's not unusual to see cars with signs taped to their rear windows - printed in inch-high letters on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper - that say variations on: "We're With Cindy!" or "Answer Her Questions!"
Ambassador Joe Wilson represented a political threat to Bush by credibly exposing part of Bush's lie and its methodology, and so Wilson had to be taken out by destroying his wife's career. Cindy Sheehan now represents a similar political threat, and for this job right-wing hate radio, Drudge, and extremist bloggers have zeroed in on her. Meanwhile, thousands of patriotic Americans, tired of being lied to by the Bush regime, are heading to Crawford, or visiting www.meetwithcindy.com or www.crawfordpeacehouse.org.
Often history tells us how the future may turn out: Bush Junior isn't the first president to have lied to us about foreign affairs and war, or to use lies to justify eviscerating the Constitution. For example, Lyndon Johnson lied about a non-existent attack on the US warship Maddox in the Vietnamese Gulf of Tonkin. William McKinley (the presidency after which Karl Rove has said he's modeling the Bush presidency) lied about an attack on the USS Maine to get us into the Spanish-American war in The Philippines and Cuba.
But most relevant to today's situation were John Adams' version of Bush's Saddam stories when Adams sent three emissaries to France and criminals soliciting bribes approached them late one evening. Adams referred to these three unidentified Frenchmen as "Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z," and made them out to represent such an insult and a threat against America that it may presage war.
Adams' use of "The XYZ Affair" to gain political capital nearly led us to war with France and helped him carve a large (although temporary) hole in the Constitution. Similarly, much like Bush's corralling of protesters at gunpoint into so-called "Free Speech Zones," and saying he has the power to lock up Americans (like Jose Padilla) without charges and without access to a lawyer, John Adams jailed newspaper editors and average citizens alike who spoke out against him and his policies.
At that time in the late 1790s, Adams was President and Jefferson was Vice President. Adams led the Federalist Party (which today could be said to have reincarnated as the Republican Party - thus the attempts by Republican historians to rehabilitate Adams' legacy and trash Jefferson), and Jefferson had just brought together two Anti-Federalist parties - the Democrats and the Republicans - into one party called The Democratic Republicans. (Today they're known as the Democratic Party, the longest-lasting political party in history. They dropped "Republican" from their name in the 1820-1830 era).
Adams and his Federalist cronies, using war hysteria with France as a wedge issue, were pushing the Alien & Sedition Acts through Congress, and even threw into prison Democratic Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont for speaking out against the Federalists on the floor of the House of Representatives. Adams was leading the United States in the direction of a fascistic state with a spectacularly successful strategy of vilifying Jefferson and his Party as anti-American and pro-French. Adams rhetoric was described as "manly" by the Federalist newspapers, which admiringly published dozens of his threatening rants against France, suggesting that Jefferson's Democratic Republicans were less than patriots and perhaps even traitors because of their opposition to the unnecessary war with France that Adams was simultaneously trying to gin up and saying he was working to avoid.
On June 1, 1798 - two weeks before the Alien & Sedition Acts passed Congress by a single vote - Jefferson wrote a thoughtful letter to his old friend John Taylor.
"This is not new," Jefferson said. "It is the old practice of despots; to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order. And those who have once got an ascendancy and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantage.
"But," he added, "our present situation is not a natural one." Jefferson knew that Adams' Federalists did not represent the true heart and soul of America, and commented to Taylor about how Adams had been using divide-and-conquer politics, and fear-mongering about war with France (the "XYZ Affair") with some success.
"But still I repeat it," he wrote again to Taylor, "this is not the natural state."
Jefferson did everything he could to stop that generation's version of the PATRIOT Act, but Adams had the Federalists in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson left town the day they were signed in protest.
Jefferson later wrote in his diary, "Their usurpations and violations of the Constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the [Democratic] Republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch."
Democratic Republican Congressman Albert Gallatin submitted legislation that would repeal the Alien & Sedition Acts, and the Federalist majority in the House refused to even consider the motion, while informing Gallatin that he would be the next to be imprisoned if he kept speaking out against "the national security."
But a new force arose.
When Adams shut down the Democratic Republican newspapers, pamphleteers - like those who had helped stir up the American Revolution - went to work, papering towns from New Hampshire to Georgia with posters and leaflets decrying Adams' power grab and encouraging people to stand tall with Thomas Jefferson. One of the best was a short screed by George Nicholas of Kentucky, "Justifying the Kentucky Resolution against the Alien & Sedition Laws" and " Correcting Certain False Statements, Which Have Been Made in the Different States" by Adams' Federalists.
On February 13, 1799, then-Vice President Jefferson sent a copy of Nicholas' pamphlet to his old friend Archibald Stuart (a Virginia legislator, fighter in the War of Independence, and leader of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans).
"I avoid writing to my friends because the fidelity of the post office is very much doubted," he opened his letter to Stuart, concerned that Adams was having his mail inspected because of his anti-war activities. Jefferson pointed out that "France is sincerely anxious for reconciliation, willing to give us a liberal treaty," and that even with the Democratic newspapers shut down by Adams and the Federalist-controlled media being unwilling to speak of Adams' war lies, word was getting out to the people.
Jefferson noted, "All these things are working on the public mind. They are getting back to the point where they were when the X. Y. Z. story was passed off on them. A wonderful and rapid change is taking place in Pennsylvania, Jersey, and New York. Congress is daily plied with petitions against the alien and sedition laws and standing armies."
Jefferson then turned to the need for the pamphleteers' materials to be widely distributed. "The materials now bearing on the public mind will infallibly restore it to its republican soundness in the course of the present summer," he wrote, "if the knowledge of facts can only be disseminated among the people. Under separate cover you will receive some pamphlets written by George Nicholas on the acts of the last session. These I would wish you to distribute...."
The pamphleteer - today he would have been called a blogger - was James Bradford, and he reprinted tens of thousands of copies of Nicholas' pamphlet and distributed it far and wide. Hand to hand, as Jefferson did with his by-courier letter to Stuart - was how what would be today's postings to progressive websites were distributed.
In the face of the pamphleteering and protests, the Federalists fought back with startling venom. Vicious personal attacks were launched in the Federalist press against Jefferson, Madison, and others, and President Adams and Vice President Jefferson were scarcely on speaking terms. Adams' goal was nothing short of the complete destruction of Jefferson's Democratic Party, and he had scared many of them into silence or submission.
"All [Democratic Republicans], therefore, retired," Jefferson wrote in his diary, "leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept the mass of [Democratic] Republicans in phalanx together, until the legislature could be brought up to the charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office of Vice-President at the head of the [Democratic] Republicans, had given way and withdrawn from my post, the [Democratic] Republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair; and the cause would have been lost forever."
But Jefferson and Gallatin held their posts, and fought back fiercely against Adams, thus saving - quite literally - American democracy. Jefferson and Madison also secretly helped legislators in Virginia and Kentucky submit resolutions in those states' legislatures decrying the Alien & Sedition Acts. The bill in Virginia, in particular, gained traction.
As Jefferson noted in his diary, "By holding on, we obtained time for the legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the Constitution at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal indignities we had to brook. They saved our country however. The spirits of the people were so much subdued and reduced to despair by the X Y Z imposture, and other stratagems and machinations, that they would have sunk into apathy and monarchy, as the only form of government which could maintain itself."
The efforts of average people like that century's Cindy Sheehans, and fearless politicians like today's Howard Dean, John Conyers, and Bernie Sanders, made great gains. As Jefferson noted in a February 14, 1799 letter to Virginia's Edmund Pendleton, "The violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense, and to a particular foreign connection, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which X. Y. Z. had spread before their eyes. This State is coming forward with a boldness not yet seen. Even the German counties of York and Lancaster, hitherto the most devoted [to Adams], have come about, and by petitions with four thousand signers remonstrate against the alien and sedition laws, standing armies, and discretionary powers in the President."
Americans were so angry with Adams, Jefferson noted, that the challenge was to prevent people from taking up arms against Adams' Federalists.
"New York and Jersey are also getting into great agitation. In this State [of Pennsylvania], we fear that the ill-designing may produce insurrection. Nothing could be so fatal. Anything like force would check the progress of the public opinion and rally them round the government. This is not the kind of opposition the American people will permit."
Like Cindy Sheehan, Jefferson knew that peaceful protests had greater power than violence or threats.
"But keep away all show of force," he wrote to Pendleton, "and they will bear down the evil propensities of the government, by the constitutional means of election and petition. If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a steady and proper direction."
A week later, February 21, 1799, Jefferson wrote to the great Polish general who had fought in the American Revolution, Thaddeus Kosciusko, a close friend who was then living in Russia. War was the great enemy of democracy, Jefferson noted, and peace was its champion. And the American people were increasingly siding with peace and rejecting Adams' call for war.
"The wonderful irritation produced in the minds of our citizens by the X. Y. Z. story, has in a great measure subsided," he noted. "They begin to suspect and to see it coolly in its true light."
But Adams was still President, and for him and his Federalist Party war would have helped tremendously with the upcoming election of 1800. In France some leaders wanted war with America for similar reasons.
Jefferson continued, "What course the government will pursue, I know not. But if we are left in peace, I have no doubt the wonderful turn in the public opinion now manifestly taking place and rapidly increasing, will, in the course of this' summer, become so universal and so weighty, that friendship abroad and freedom at home will be firmly established by the influence and constitutional powers of the people at large."
And if Adams' rhetoric led to an attack on America by France? "If we are forced into war," Jefferson noted, "we must give up political differences of opinion, and unite as one man to defend our country. But whether at the close of such a war, we should be as free as we are now, God knows."
The tide was turned, to use Jefferson's phrase, by the election of 1800. The abuses of the Federalists were so burned into the people's minds when Jefferson's party came to power, and he freed the imprisoned newspaper editors so reform-minded newspapers were started back up again, that the Federalists disintegrated altogether as a party over the next two decades.
All because average citizens and pamphleteers stood up and challenged the lies of a war-mongering president, and politicians of principle were willing to lead. Cindy Sheehan is the George Nicholas or Rusticus of our age. Jefferson would have stood with her.
America has been burdened by lying presidents before, and even one who tried to destroy our Constitution. But in our era - like in Jefferson's - we are fortunate to have radical truth-tellers like Cindy Sheehan and Joseph Wilson to warn us of treasonous acts for political gain, and bloggers and progressive websites to carry the truth.
If we stand in solidarity with today's truth-tellers, and
politicians step forward to take a leadership role, then its entirely possible
that with the elections of 2006 and 2008 American democracy can once again
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?"
TreasonGate - What Did Bush Know, And When
Did He Know It?
by Thom Hartmann
Political smears by right-wingers are nothing new. In the election of 1800, John Adams had a surrogate newspaper publisher write an article about "Dusky Sally," the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson's deceased wife, who was also one of the Jefferson family slaves. Jefferson succeeded in avoiding the issue, and his friends pointed out that it was merely about his personal life, not national security.
George W. Bush may not be so fortunate.
Today comes the revelation in The Wall Street Journal that "A key department memo discussing Joseph Wilson's Niger trip was classified 'Top Secret,' and the passage about his wife's CIA role was specially marked 'S/NF' -- not to be shared with any foreign intelligence agencies."
Perhaps even more damning are reports that the Top Secret-S/NF document was apparently first delivered to Air Force One when George W. Bush and Colin Powell (who had apparently requested it from analysts within the State Department) were flying to Africa in 2003.
Somehow - nobody knows at the moment - the information in this Top Secret-S/NF document (the identity of Joe Wilson's wife) then migrated from Air Force One to George W. Bush's assistant, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney's assistant, Scooter Libby. Rove and Libby then immediately began "dialing for dollars" - calling reporters with this juicy bit of Top Secret-N/SF information - in an attempt to politically assassinate Joe Wilson.
Which raises the question: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
It's unlikely that Colin Powell would have called Rove and Cheney (to give instructions to Libby) with the information in the memo - that was above his pay grade. Ditto for Ari Fleischer. And it's extremely doubtful that the pilots on the plane even knew about the explosive information they were carrying as they flew across the Atlantic.
Which leaves George W. Bush, as the only other person on that plane with the means, opportunity, and motive.
Thus, perhaps, the reports that Patrick Fitzgerald has now subpoenaed the phone logs of Air Force One.
Those of a certain age among us remember well the shocking moment when Nixon's lawyer, John Dean, confirmed to Congress that Nixon himself was involved in the Watergate scandal.
The urgency Bush brought to deciding on and releasing the name of John Roberts coincided relatively closely with a growing press awareness that the Sop Secret-S/NF memo with Plame's identity started it's long path to Bob Novak on Air Force One. Time - and an awakened press corps (and hopefully an awakened Congress) - will tell if Bush's own fingerprints are all over this treasonous act of political revenge.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project
Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated
daily progressive talk show, and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ in
Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com
His most recent books are "The
Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal
The People," "The
Edison Gene", and "What
Would Jefferson Do?"
Letter I Sent To John Conyers Jr.
I seem to remember a lot of talk about "The Rule of Law" during Bill Clintons Impeachment trials, but to this administration they just seem to ignore all the rules and all the laws. They just blatantly lie… to not only the American public but the world as well. The truth is that the world knows about their lies. The truth is covered up with the cooperation of the media in this country. We need to expose every single one of these people, starting with, George W. Bush, then moving on to George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, Dick Chaney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, and Karl Rove and the rest of all compliant parties in this lie. They need to be exposed. They need to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives, and their ill-gotten fortunes confiscated as is now done with drug enforcement laws, so that they do not ever come back again seeking to enrich their fortunes at the expense of American citizens or America’s good name. Thank You For All Your Work. You Sir, are a True Patriot.
William A. Peary
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------06-20-05 They Died So Republicans Could Take the Senate
Richard Nixon authorized the Watergate burglary and subsequent cover-up to advance his own political ambitions. Because Nixon's lies were done for the craven purpose of getting and holding political power, his lies - in the minds of the majority of the members of Congress - were elevated to the level of impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Bill Clinton had sex in the White House with Monica Lewinsky, but Congress concluded he'd lied about it to maintain political power. Another impeachable crime.
The real scandal of the Downing Street Memos, with the greatest potential to leave the Bush presidency in permanent disgrace, is their implication that lies may have been put forward to help Bush, Republicans, and Blair politically. If Bush lied to gain and keep political power, precedent suggests he and his collaborators in the administration may even be vulnerable to impeachment.
Conservatives say the Bush claims of WMD and "mushroom clouds" were a "lie of ignorance." Condoleezza Rice periodically does the talk-show circuit and repeats the "lie of ignorance" myth. "The entire world thought Saddam had WMD," she and other Bush representatives suggest over and over again. "We had bad intelligence."
This is a lie to cover up a more damaging lie. "The entire world" was, in fact, watching and listening to Hans Blix, who was telling us that he couldn't find any evidence of WMD - or any other sort of threat - in Iraq. Most of our allies were convinced that Saddam did not have WMD, or that if he did have some small stockpiles left they were so insignificant and degraded that they were irrelevant. This is why the only permanent member of the UN Security Council to join us in attacking Iraq was Blair's UK: China, France, and Russia didn't believe Iraq represented a threat to them, to us, or even to its neighbors.
Nonetheless, Bush keeps trying to push this lie-to-cover-up-a-lie. In his June 19, 2005 radio address, he suggested that the Saudis who flew the planes into the World Trade Center were actually Iraqis. "We went to war because we were attacked," he said, hoping Americans' memories are short.
US media pundits, knowing the "WMD lie" and the "Saddam attacked us" lie for what they are, mostly suggest that Bush's use of WMD and terrorism to justify invading Iraq was a "lie of convenience." The implicit assumption is that Bush did this because of a "greater good"; that even though he lied, he was doing so to advance America's interests. This helps pundits to feel like they're part of an in-crowd elite who know what's best for America, even if they can't tell the children - er - citizens.
The "lie of convenience" is based on the neocon argument that the US needed a "footprint" in the Middle East to both secure our oil supplies and provide military security to Israel. But it ignores the many nations in the region where we now have military bases (some huge), the power and ability of our navy, and the power of Israel's military. And it doesn't explain how our getting bogged down in Iraq could possibly advance our interests at home or around the world.
Often included in the "lie of convenience" mix is the PNAC suggestion that for America to be safe, we must forcefully project military power all over the world and hold decisive control of the world's largest oil supplies. This flies in the face of most of America's history, starting with George Washington's farewell address warning against "foreign entanglements." It's not only un-American, but is the assumption used throughout history to justify empires, and in every single case has ended up bleeding dry those empires, consigning them to painful contraction or total collapse.
And neither the "lie of convenience" nor the "lie of ignorance" were demonstrably the reasons why Bush invaded Iraq.
So why then did George W. Bush lie us into invading and occupying Iraq?
We know that Bush wanted to massively cut taxes on his corporate sponsors and people, like himself, with substantial inherited fortunes. He wanted to weaken government protections of the environment, children, the poor, the elderly, the ozone layer, and our nation's forests. He wanted his oil-rig and mining-interest friends to have more access to public lands.
We know he wanted to undo Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal by stripping the American workplace (particularly government and schools) of unions, rolling back "socialist" unemployment and Social Security programs, and eliminating SEC and tort restraints on predatory corporate behavior. He'd even campaigned on this platform - particularly Social Security privatization - back in 1978 when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress from Texas.
We know he wanted to increase the police power of the federal government, gut the First and Fourth Amendments, and thus create a "safe and orderly nation" of people under constant surveillance, who never question those in power.
We know he wanted to give billions of our tax dollars to churches he approved of, and bring their leaders into the halls of government. He wanted to pass laws incorporating religious dogma about when human life begins, what is appropriate sexuality, and free churches to use tax-exempt dollars to influence politics.
It was an ambitious agenda. In order to bring about this neoconservative paradise, Bush knew he'd need considerable political capital. And that kind of capital didn't come from his being selected as President by the Supreme Court.
Such political capital - such raw political power - would only come, he believed, by his becoming a "war president."
Bush wasn't the first to realize how war strengthened a president in power, although the Founders saw it as a danger rather than an opportunity.
On April 20, 1795, James Madison wrote, "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few."
Reflecting on war's impact on the Executive Branch of government, Madison continued his letter about the dangerous and intoxicating power of war for a president.
"In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive [President] is extended," he wrote. "Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both.
"No nation," he concluded, "could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
But freedom wasn't the goal of George W. Bush or his neoconservative Republican colleagues. It was political power. And they were willing to lie us into a war to achieve it.
Writer Russ Baker noted in October, 2004, that Mickey Herskowitz, the man Bush had originally hired to write his autobiography ("A Charge To Keep: My Journey To The White House"), told Baker that George Bush was planning his Iraq invasion - to seize and hold political power for himself and the Republican Party - during his first presidential election campaign.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," Herskowitz told Baker. "It was on his mind. He [Bush] said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
Bush lied, and Americans died. And continue to die. But politically - at least so far - it has worked out well for Bush.
It was a lie of political expediency, with the war resolution carefully timed just before the 2002 elections to help the Republicans take back the Senate.
It was echoed and amplified and repeated over and over again to help him and other Republicans get elected in 2004.
It wasn't a war for oil - cheap oil was just a useful secondary benefit.
It wasn't a war against terrorism - that was just a convenient excuse.
It wasn't a war to enrich Bush's and Cheney's cronies - those were just pleasant by-products.
It wasn't a war to show Poppy Bush that Junior was more of a man than him - that was just a personal bonus for Dubya.
It was, pure and simple, well planned years in advance, a war to solidify Bush and the Republican Party's political capital.
It was a war for political power. That had to be first. Everything else - oil, profits, ongoing PATRIOT Act powers, easy manipulation of the media - all could only come if political power was seized and held through at least two decisive election cycles.
The Bush administration lied us into an invasion to get and keep political power. It's that simple.
The same reason Richard Nixon authorized Watergate and then lied about the cover-up. The same reason Nixon lied about his "secret plan" to get out of Vietnam.
When Americans - and the US media - finally realize that Bush's lie was just to get "political capital," to increase the "discretionary power of the President" so he could undo Roosevelt's New Deal and seal power across all three branches of government for his Party, they will turn on him and his Republican co-conspirators.
If it comes out in the open before the election of 2006, Republicans could even lose the House and the Senate, which would virtually guarantee investigations of the many other crimes of the Bush administration. (For example, "bribery" is one of two crimes cited in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment - and the Big Pharma/Medicaid and Big Tobacco/lawsuit settlement cases may qualify.)
Probably the only two things that could slow down the American electorate's growing realization of the magnitude and horror of Bush's political lies would be another attack on America or a new Bush-led war into Syria, Iran, or North Korea.
Bush has already shown, by lying us into Iraq, that he's at least capable of the latter. As Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison on February 8th 1776, "It should ever be held in mind that insult and war are the consequences of a lack of respectability in the national character."
And already the cons are working the talk-show circuit, threatening the US with a new attack, and recommending we strike now at Iran or Syria. "Be afraid. Be aggressive. Give us more political power."
But if Jefferson was right when he said that the best defense of democracy was an informed electorate, there is still a small window of opportunity for the American press to do the job they've been so carefully avoiding these past five years.
Instead of just reporting that the Downing Street Minutes and memos exist, they can highlight them against the timeline of Bush repeatedly lying during those days before the war. They can quote him saying that he had no plans for war, was working toward peace, and only wanted Congressional authorization to avoid a war, and point out that this was all after - months after - his administration had told the British that war was a sure thing.
Lying, in other words, to get us to go along with an invasion that would cement in Republican control of the Congress and the White House, and, thus, also the courts. Lying for nothing more than "political capital."
Let us hope our Fourth Estate is up
to the task.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored
Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily
progressive talk show and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ
in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com
His most recent books are "The
Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal
The People," "The
Edison Gene", and "What
Would Jefferson Do? ### -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Thom Hartmann
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------04-28-05 The Frauds of the Clergy
Why would a multi-multi-millionaire Senator, who consistently votes to harm the hungry and the poor who so concerned Jesus, join forces with religious fundamentalists to stack this nation's highest courts? Could it be because he and his wealthy Republican friends see huge financial benefits for themselves and their corporate patrons in a compliant court?
At the "Justice Sunday" event hyped to national prominence by Bill Frist's appearance, Chuck Colson told America that we should read the Federalist Papers to understand the intent and the mind of the Founders.
Apparently Colson overlooked Federalist 47, published by James Madison on February 1, 1788. Titled, "The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts," Madison wrote about how important it was that the different branches of government serve as checks and balances on each other.
"No political truth is of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty," wrote Madison of the concern about any one particular group dominating all branches of government. He added, "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
A paragraph later, Madison quotes the Enlightenment thinker Montesquieu, inserting his own capital letters for emphasis:
"'When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body,' says he [Montesquieu], 'there can be no liberty, because apprehensions may arise lest THE SAME monarch or senate should ENACT tyrannical laws to EXECUTE them in a tyrannical manner.'
"Again: 'Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for THE JUDGE would then be THE LEGISLATOR. Were it joined to the executive power, THE JUDGE might behave with all the violence of AN OPPRESSOR.'"
Or perhaps Colson could read Federalist 48, in which Madison quotes from Thomas Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia."
"All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body," wrote Jefferson in this commentary quoted in Federalist 48. "The concentrating of these in the same hands, is precisely the definition of despotic government.
"It will be no alleviation, that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one."
Jefferson added, "An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one ... in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
"For this reason, that Convention which passed the ordinance of government [the Constitution], laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time.''
Unless, of course, you are a Republican sponsored by massive corporate interests and willing to invade people's bedrooms to score political points with religious extremists.
The real power of the Republican Party is held by the corporatists - who Vice President Henry Wallace called "the American fascists" - whose loyalty is to hereditary wealth and corporate rule. (As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.")
But this is such a small minority of Americans that Frist's wealthy fascists had to bring along somebody else. They chose the religious fundamentalists for their unholy alliance.
The fundamentalists want to replace the Constitution with their unique and particular interpretation of Christian scripture. Their main assertion is that this nation's first laws were based on the Ten Commandments.
The Founders disagree. As Jefferson famously wrote in his "Notes on Virginia":
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
In fact, Jefferson said, the idea that this nation was founded in Christianity, or that the Ten Commandments were a pattern for the Constitution, was a "fraud of the clergy."
"Christianity was not introduced [to England] till the seventh century," wrote Jefferson in a February 10, 1814 letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, "the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it. ...
"In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has ever made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are."
But the bottom line for the corporatists is that if the religious conservatives - whipped into a frenzy by the thought that a woman may deign to control her own body - can change the courts to be more "conservative," the corporatists can be sure that the "conservative" judges are both opposed to abortion, and also radically in favor of corporate interests and hereditary wealth.
By helping out religious extremists, Frist's corporate fascists will have much greater power to put into place judges who won't overturn laws that deny the working class access to bankruptcy courts, the right to sue as a class when harmed, and will give multinational corporations the freedom to import, pollute, and profit at the expense of small businesses and communities. They'll get judges who will outlaw birth control at the same time they outlaw unions and the minimum wage.
It's nothing new, really. Most recently, the Saudi royal family made a similar deal with their religious conservatives. The oil barons gave the fundamentalists the power to enforce their religious agenda, stacking the courts with fundamentalist judges, who in turn acted as enforcers to preserve the oil barons' political and economic power.
It worked for two generations, until the fundamentalists became so powerful that they decided the oil money should be theirs. The religious movement to take control of Saudi Arabia's wealth was led by none other than Osama Bin Laden, who suggested that oil should sell for $200 a barrel, with the proceeds subsidizing evangelism around the world.
The House of Saud was appalled and threw him out of the country, so he went back to Afghanistan and hooked up with the Taliban, men after his own heart, and decided to take on the power that he felt was propping up the royal family - America.
Thus the ultimate irony, that a radical Catholic speaker at Sunday's telecast would complain that his bunch was perceived by many as "America's Taliban." All while George W. Bush had moved over a billion taxpayer dollars to churches through his "faith based programs," and fundamentalists avoided paying billions in taxes by promising to stay out of politics.
As Jefferson said in a June 5, 1824 letter to Major John Cartwright, "What a conspiracy this, between Church and State!"
Frauds of the clergy in the Middle East brought us 9/11, an explosion of Muslim conservativism, and a fourfold spike in terrorist incidents worldwide, while enriching the Saudi oil and Afghan heroin industries, and helping George W. Bush lead the world to the brink of war.
The merger of corporatist Republicans and the new "frauds of the clergy" could bring this nation to an even more terrible crossroad, unless Americans of good conscience contact their members of the Senate to support Jefferson's and Madison's ideal of democracy.
The number to reach any member of the Senate is
Thom's website is www.thomhartmann.com
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