Thursday, January 31, 2008

Montel Williams For President

God, it was satisfying to see talk show host Montel Williams offer a few moments of sanity and honesty to the sick, sad 24/7 parade of fluff/junk food news/jingoism/GOP propaganda over at the Fox News Channel.

The lobotomized talking heads at Fox just wanted to chat about Heath Ledger, but Montel, a former Marine, stunned everyone by bringing up the subject that no one at Fox wants to discuss: the ongoing, senseless slaughter of our troops in Bush's immoral, illegal war in Iraq. (Needless to say, Williams lost his job after this segment).

Williams would certainly be a vast improvement over the GOP crooks and the gutless Dem wimps that are "serving" the people in Washington. I wonder how the right-wing Kool-Aid fringe blogs will spin this story.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Real State Of The Union Address

The Real State Of The Union Address.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reflecting On A Sad Legacy in Suharto's Indonesia: "One Of The Greatest Campaigns Of Slaughter In Modern Asian History."

"One of the greatest campaigns of slaughter in modern Asian history. I think, as an historian and as an American, that it is one of the most morally troubling episodes in the history of American foreign policy, and one which the U.S. government has never taken any responsibility for."

Newsflash: Suharto Dies, Is Cast Into Lowest Pits Of Hell


Well, we can only hope so, per justice for the Indonesian people, and especially for the survivors of the East Timor victims. It's funny how being "anti-communist" could get you a pass for mass murder back in the '60s, '70s and '80s.

I won't even get into the Noam Chomsky accounts of Suharto's genocide against the Timorese, because the research would take long enough to make this an untimely post. I'll rely on the MSM. This is what The Associated Press had after the news broke:

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Former dictator Suharto, an army general who crushed Indonesia's communist movement and pushed aside the country's founding father to usher in 32 years of tough rule that saw up to a million political opponents killed, died Sunday. He was 86. ...

Suharto, who led a regime widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most brutal and corrupt, has lived a reclusive life in a comfortable villa in downtown Jakarta for the past decade. ...

Historians say up to 800,000 alleged communist sympathizers were killed during Suharto's rise to power from 1965 to 1968. His troops killed another 300,000 in military operations against independence movements in Papua, Aceh and East Timor.

Suharto's poor health had kept him from facing trial, and no one has been punished for the killings.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International has said Suharto and his family amassed billions of dollars in stolen state funds, allegations the family is fighting in court.

Suharto's successors as head of state — B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — vowed to end corruption that took root under Suharto, yet it remains endemic at all levels of Indonesian society.

With the court system paralyzed by corruption, the country has not confronted its bloody past. Rather than put on trial those accused of mass murder and multibillion-dollar theft, some members of the political elite consistently called for charges against Suharto to be dropped on humanitarian grounds.

It's remarkable how humane the international community can become when it's a fascist dictator who's sick and can't go to trial. There are those among us who would be dusting off the electric chair not only for Castro, but also for Hugo Chavez and even Daniel Ortega if they could.

I remember some people getting all misty-eyed about the plight of Chile's Augusto Pinochet as a decrepit ruin. Nobody running Western governments after World War II seemed interested in pursuing crimes-against-humanity charges against the European fascist dictators Franco and Salazar.

There seems to be a residual double standard for the murderers and tyrants of the extreme right wing, a holdover from the Cold War. The reasoning seems to be something like: Since Vladimir Putin isn't a communist, we prefer him over Gorbachev, no?

Killers are killers, and despots are despots. Nearly 20 years after the Cold War ended, it's time to, pun intended, bury it.

Roast well, Suharto. But first, may the worms devour your liver, con gusto.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For Millions Of Americans, Economic Crisis Is Old News


Things are looking grim for the U.S. economy these days, the politicians and the MSM pundits tell us.

I'm glad they finally noticed. The fact is, tens of millions of Americans have already been living through increasingly lean times over the past decade.

It took a stock market crisis for the Wall Street crowd to finally notice that the nation's economy is going down the tubes.

But that's hardly news for millions of average American workers, who've seen their incomes stagnate since 1980.

For years, the pundits and the politicians celebrated "strong" economic growth when the rest of us were wondering what they were talking about. The pundits also cheered America's low jobless rate. But the rest of us knew it was all a sham, in an era when millions of jobs pay such low wages that nobody could possibly live on them.

Hard economic times are nothing new for the tens of millions of Americans who already work two or three jobs, just to make ends meet. Or the nearly 50 million Americans who can't afford health insurance. Or the 2 million Americans who are about to lose their homes in the mortgage crisis.

I once had a friend from Europe who came to visit me in New York City. He told me that the American economy was widely celebrated then in Europe and that many Europeans marveled at America's entrepreneurial spirit and low unemployment rate.

I explained to my European friend that although America's economy was then in the midst of what the pundits called "prosperity" and was enjoying a stock market boom, the reality was that millions of Americans were left out in the cold and were still struggling.

At the time, my friend and I were in a bustling, prosperous part of Manhattan. Looking around, it appeared that the nation was indeed economically prosperous. I then took my friend on a short tour through surrounding areas, including Harlem, Brooklyn, and Newark. My friend was astonished at the stark difference between the prosperity he'd just seen in Manhattan and the horrible, Third World-like poverty that was only a short distance away.

This episode reminds me of what is going on today. The pundits and politicians are finally starting to wake up to something that's been obvious to millions of us for years. The American economy is in the toilet.

Sure, a tiny elite wealthy class has been enjoying strong stock market gains for years. Now, they're going to have to share some of the pain, like the rest of us.

In fact, in looking at the economic hard times ahead, I think there's actually a silver lining to all of this. That is: an economically distressed America will finally be forced to end its illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Now That Obama Has Praised Reagan, Will GOP Ever Have Any Kind Words For Clinton?


Barack Obama's recent words of praise for Ronald Reagan surprised a lot of progressives.

Some believe Obama was just being diplomatic. Others wonder if outraged progressives are simply over-reacting to Obama's remarks.

As for me, I just have one question: when will the Republicans reciprocate and have some kind words to say about Bill Clinton?

Of course, you know the answer as well as I do: When hell freezes over.

The fact is, the Republicans and their henchmen viciously attacked Bill Clinton every single day he was in office. And they have continued to relentlessly attack him every day since then. Indeed, Clinton is blamed by many Republicans for things that didn't even happen on his watch (such as 9/11).

And we're not just talking about personal attacks (like when GOP Rep. Dan Burton called Clinton a "scumbag" in 1998).

We're talking about whole series of vicious attacks, lies, distortions (and even threats) for which no Republican has ever retracted or apologized for. And a lot of these attacks ("Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster!" "Bill Clinton is a rapist!" "Bill Clinton murdered Ron Brown!") have been repeated so many times that a lot of Republicans fervently believe them to this day.

In fact, in viewing a right-wing hatchet job like the infamous video, The Clinton Chronicles one would be under the impression that Clinton has a lot of blood on his hands, murdering anyone who got in his way.

One might think that such baseless, crazy charges against Clinton would have been limited to the nutcase right-wing fringe. But that, of course, wasn't the case. These wild charges were eagerly embraced by the likes of The Wall Street Journal which promoted The Clinton Chronicles on its editorial page and ran over 60 editorials discussing Foster's "mysterious" death.

And here, we are, a decade later and all of the crazy right-wing charges against Bill Clinton have been thoroughly debunked and exposed as bullsh*t lies.

And yet, has any Republican ever apologized for these hatchet jobs on Clinton? And what's more, has any Republican EVER had any kind words, whatsoever, to say about Bill Clinton?

Of course not. The Republicans continue to viciously attack Clinton, even as they tune up the Great GOP Slime Machine to go after Hillary.

When Obama had kind words to say about Reagan, it was clear that he was being diplomatic. But if he (or any Democrat) is ever expecting the Republicans to reciprocate in any way, they will be in for a long, long wait.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bush's Absurd Tax Rebate Scheme Won't Save Economy


With the titanic cost of the Iraq War fiasco, along with his reckless tax cuts for the wealthy, George W. Bush has driven the U.S. economy off of a cliff.

Now, Bush aims to save the economy with an absurd tax rebate scheme, which will amount to about $140 billion, equal to about 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

It's clear that this rebate scheme will be nothing more than a mere Band-Aid on a bleeding economy that is in deep crisis.

First of all, there's the matter of the nation's disastrous mortgage crisis. It's bad enough that 2 million people could lose their homes. What's equally ominous is that the housing bubble has been the main thing propping up the U.S. economy since Bush took office. Beside those losing their homes, some 44.5 million Americans will watch the value of their homes diminish.

Bear in mind that the "wealth effect" of inflated home values has been the main factor in getting Americans to spend money, powering our consumption-led economy.

The tax rebate of several hundred dollars that most ordinary taxpayers will get under Bush's plan may come in handy for many people who are paying off bills. But it won't save our rotten-to-the-core, faltering economy.

Even worse than the mortgage crisis is the ongoing U.S. deficit crisis that has soared out of control under Bush's watch. The U.S. national debt now stands at a staggering $9 trillion. That amounts to over $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

The national debt is a ticking time bomb that Bush has completely ignored the past seven years. The Iraq War fiasco will add another $2 trillion to the nation's debt.

Bush and the NeoCons have never shown any concern about the deficit. But the East Asian nations that fund America's national debt are increasingly concerned.

Under Bush's watch, the dollar has taken a beating. This has added to the anxiety of nations like China and Japan, which hold trillions of dollars in their central bank reserves. The crisis is a vicious cycle: the more the dollar declines, the more incentive China and Japan have to sell their dollars (which, in turn, will force the dollar's value even lower).

When the dollar melts down in value, America's reign as a superpower will be over. Once upon a time, that seemed like a remote possibility. Under the disastrous Bush administration, it looks like something that could very well happen any day now.

During the brief period in his life when he tried his hand in the private sector, Bush drove all three of his companies into the ground. Despite the fact that his father and grandfather were powerful politicians, Bush was a bust in the private sector (even with his family's powerful connections and wealth).

Now, Bush is on the verge of doing to America what he did to his failed companies in the private sector. And its role in the collapse of America's economy is the main thing future historians will remember about this administration.

It's a crisis that Bush's tax rebate Band-Aid won't fix.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wingnut Blogs Claim Black Voter Disenfranchisement In 2000 Election Never Happened


Wingnut blog Flopping Aces, among others, is disputing the Democrats' "false accusations" that the Bush campaign tried to disenfranchise black voters in Florida in 2000.

The Kool-Aid-drinking wingnuts have been working overtime the past few years, trying to rewrite history, as they claim that the GOP theft of the 2000 election never happened.

But as the ace investigative reporter Greg Palast has documented, an incredible 1 million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I'm seeking The Truth and I have a choice, I'm going to go with a widely acclaimed, world-class investigative journalist with a stellar track record before I'm going to rely on a hack, partisan, Bush-ass-kissing blog. But that's just me.

As Palast points out:

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission looked into the smelly pile of spoiled ballots and concluded that, of the 179,855 ballots invalidated by Florida officials, 53 percent were cast by black voters. In Florida, a black citizen was 10 times as likely to have a vote rejected as a white voter.

Remember, Bush "defeated" Gore in Florida by razor-thin 537 votes.

In case anyone is wondering if the Bush Crime Family really had anything to do with all this, keep this in mind: Palast notes that he "discovered that technicians had warned Gov. Jeb Bush's office well in advance of November 2000 of the racial bend in the vote-count procedures."

Palast continues, "It's not surprising that the First Brother's team, informed of impending rejection of black ballots, looked away and whistled."

But now wingnut sites like Flopping Aces are trying to rewrite history.

I have no doubt that the GOP and its allies will once again try to steal the vote in 2008. We need to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening---and if it does happen, we need to take to the streets and remove this illegitimate government by force.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"What Would Reagan Do?" Campaign Continues GOP's Creepy Deification Of The Gipper


Remember the "What would Jesus do?" campaign that was popular back in the 1990s? It was a slogan used by many Christians as a reminder to follow Jesus in their daily lives.

These days, Republicans have borrowed the phrase as part of their creepy, ongoing deification of their hero, Ronald Reagan.

Recently, right-wing hacks Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have been touting the Heritage Foundation's "What would Reagan do?" campaign.

The "What would Reagan do?" slogan (often abbreviated as "WWRD") recently took off like wildfire across the right-wing Web. Wingnut bloggers pontificate on the subject and online merchants peddle WWRD T-shirts and other products.

The Republicans can't seem to get enough of Reagan these days. If you listen to a GOP presidential debate, the participants endlessly sing Reagan's praises and proclaim themselves to be the most worthy candidate to carry the Gipper's legacy.

Personally, I find all this Reagan worship rather creepy and disturbing. But what disturbs me the most is that none of it is based on reality. Indeed, the GOP's view of Reagan is based on myth and fantasy.

Take for example, a recent article by Heritage Foundation official Rebecca Hagelin.

Hagelin writes:
"Because Reagan did more than simply take strong, effective positions -- he took positions based on the U.S. Constitution -- principles which never change. Principles as relevant to today’s issues as they were when penned by our nation’s founders. He proved that timeless values are just that ... timeless."

Wow, that's quite heady praise for a flip-flopping, opportunistic politician who started out his career as a Democrat. Take a closer look, though, and you'll see that Hagelin's praise is the sort of cult-like, Kool-Aid-drinking devotion that is totally disconnected from reality.

First of all, there's this Heritage Foundation fantasy that Reagan "took positions based on the U.S. Constitution."

The reality is that Reagan (like George W. Bush) subverted the Constitution and used it like a piece of toilet paper.

Take the Iran-Contra affair, in which the White House ignored the Constitution and secretly sold weapons to terrorists in Iran and then illegally used the money to fund the Contras, the thugs who were trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.

Although Reagan praised the Contras as "Freedom Fighters," they were in fact nothing more than terrorists who routinely slaughtered civilian men, women and children.

After the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan lied through his teeth and denied the whole story. (So much for the GOP's portrayal of Reagan as a man of honesty and integrity).

Of course, we'll never know the full story of Iran-Contra. The White House team shredded thousands of papers that documented the affair. But what we do know is that Reagan had utter contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.

In a 1987 special, journalist Bill Moyers documented the whole sordid affair, in "The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis," which you can view here. Watching it, I felt ashamed to be an American.

If the wingnuts insist on worshipping their hero Reagan, that's their business. But to try to portray Reagan as a paragon of honesty and integrity (and as a president who respected the Constitution) is a nauseating lie.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Iraq War Foes Should Take Heart: Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire Win Isn't End Of the World


In a shocker that all the highly paid political pundits missed by a mile, Hillary Clinton achieved a stunning upset in New Hampshire's Democratic primary Tuesday night.

To my fellow progressives: I'd like to remind everyone, Clinton's win is not the end of the world.

Don't get me wrong: Clinton is a sorry corporate sell-out and she did vote for the fiasco in Iraq. And if I had it my way, Michael Moore would be our next president (with Al Franken as vice president).

But let's be real, people: after eight horrifying years of George W. Bush in the White House, ANYONE new will be an improvement by a trillion light years. Hell, I'd even welcome back Dick Nixon with open arms, if it meant getting Bush out of the White House.

To the anti-war base on the Left, I say this: take heart. Sure, it'd be nice to have a strongly outspoken anti-war candidate in the White House, like John Edwards.

But look at it this way: the Iraq fiasco simply can't drag on much longer, no matter what our corrupt politicians in Washington want. The fact is, America is a bankrupt nation, with the biggest deficits of any country in history.

America can only "afford" the Iraq War's eye-popping $12 billion/month cost because China and Japan are loaning us the money. But it's unsustainable. History has shown time and again that bankrupt empires must eventually stop their wars of conquest.

Let's look at the bright side of things, people. One of the things I would enjoy the most about having Hillary Clinton in the White House is that it would drive the nutcase right-wing absolutely batshit.

Can you imagine the likes of Rush OxyMoron and that crazy Nazi nutcase Mark Levin in the aftermath of a Clinton victory? That alone would make a Clinton victory a pure pleasure.

I've heard some pundits argue that the GOP would really secretly prefer Hillary, if they had to have a Dem in the White House, simply because she's so pro-corporate and business-friendly. But these pundits are over-estimating the wisdom and depth of the Republicans. Talk to a wingnut sometime: these people really do despise Hillary with every fiber of their being.

And let's face it, we're not really ever going to get significant change in our rotten-to-the-core, corrupt political system, outside of armed revolt. When the People's Revolution comes, I'll be waiting on the barricades, ready to fight, along with millions of other fed-up working-class people. Until then, though, at least I can enjoy the spectacle of seeing the wingnuts have a heart attack over having Hillary in the White House.

At the end of the day, what's the most important lesson Dems can take from New Hampshire? It's this: nothing is set in stone in the 2008 election. I see too many Democrats who seem smug about re-taking the White House in 2008, simply because Bush has been such a disaster for America. But New Hampshire ought to show all of us that anything can happen and that nothing should be taken for granted in 2008.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Shows How Iraq War Support Remains Toxic For Candidates


To hear George W. Bush and the right-wing noise machine tell it, one might be under the impression that the Iraq War has turned from a disaster to a major success story in the past few months.

But make no mistake: the American people aren't buying this spin---and support for the Iraq War remains toxic for any candidate seeking the White House.

Barack Obama, one of the few candidates who has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, rolled to victory in the Iowa caucuses. (Note that polls show that Iowa Democrats still consider the war in Iraq the top issue facing the country).

Obama's success shows that the American public simply isn't buying the White House's recent desperate spin of the Iraq War as a "success story." And it shows that candidates who don't distance themselves from the Iraq fiasco severely diminish their hopes for the White House.

It's this toxic association with the war which continues to haunt former Dem front-runner Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize the invasion and has never apologized for doing so.

In recent months, the mainstream media, including The New York Times, has worked overtime, trying to depict a turn-around in the Iraq War.

But the American people clearly aren't buying it. Bush's approval ratings remain in the toilet. And although one can find plenty of fault with Obama's anti-war credentials, they were clearly enough to power his victory in Iowa over Clinton's mighty, well-funded campaign machine.

On the GOP side, the public's weariness with the Iraq fiasco is apparent as well. Ron Paul is clearly picking up steam and his campaign earnings this quarter amounted to an incredible $19.5 million, possibly the largest haul among GOP candidates. It's quite remarkable for for a candidate who is more sharply critical of the Iraq War than any other White House hopeful.