My Concerns for the world
A list for of worrying trends in the contemporary world with links to significant articles for educational purposes.
HomeSome personal opinionsMy worries for the world (in 2004)My Blog
In assessing major issues of concern for our times we must recognize a major problem:  Our world is changing at an ever faster pace.  As soon as we understand what is going on we are out of date.  So defining situations in our times is ever more difficult and ever more contested.  This is my list. 
For me one of the greatest worries about these issues is that scarcely any of my friends recognize even one of them; virtually none of my friends believes these situations are as threatening as I do. So, to this list of problems must be added one more:  That those of us in the Western World who have the most to lose and collectively the most ability to do something positive, generally have little interest in tracking world affairs and little awareness of the risks to world civilization that are now at stake. 
SEVEN MAJOR CONCERNS
THE MEDIA, DISHONESTY OF OUR GOVERNMENT, THE AMERICAN DEBT, PRISONER ABUSE, THE WHITE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT
AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN, GENOCIDE IN DARFUR AND CONGO

CONCERN ONE:  THE TRAGIC WEAKENING OF THE  FOURTH ESTATE IN THE UNITED STATES

The End of News?  We could be approaching the demise of authentic news as "opinion" takes over the public discourse.

The Failure of Television Journalism.  It seems increasingly the case that those who rely on television for news will hear little about the abuse of prisoners by the CIA and the military.  Here is Frank Rich's essay on the problem.  IF YOU GET YOUR NEWS ONLY FROM TELEVISION YOU HAVE LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD.

The Demise of Honest Journalism  The full text of the Moyers NOW interview with Richard Viguerie, who has no interest in representing the truth, only opinion. 
On the firing of four major figures in the CBS newsroom:  We can be thankful that CBS does not believe that journalism is merely opinion:  even statements of opinion need to be accepted as a claim to authenticity, a search to represent the “truth” as we best can know it.  It must necessarily be so if we are to have a free society.  Compare the views of the administration of CBS with those of Richard Viguerie, who Bill Moyers described as “a founding father of the modern conservative movement and still one of its most powerful figures.”  Here is Viguerie’s concept of journalism, from a Bill Moyers interview on NOW, recently: 
  MOYERS: Do you think what Sean Hannity said is fair? 
  VIGUERIE: Oh, absolutely. 
  MOYERS: But there's no fact to back that up. There's no effort to substantiate that with documentation
  VIGUERIE: That's what journalism is. It's just all opinion. Just opinion

My response:  If CBS executives thought that journalism is just opinion they would not have felt it necessary to fire four of their top newsroom executives.  Likewise, the New York Times would not have fired one of their reporters and the two top editors.  Perhaps I am unduly wrought about these things, but in my old age I have become convinced that honest reporting, precise reporting, in anthropology, journalism and in any other field that seeks to represent reality, the claim to truth [recognizing how elusive it is] is crucial to the propagation of knowledge and to maintenance of a democratic society.  The undermining of journalism not a new threat, of course is a dangerous trend in a free society.  It is a threat to the pursuit of knowledge.  Would that all news sources, including those that claim nothing more than to be opinion would acknowledge their public responsibility to represent the truth as they honestly know it, not just as free floating opinion but an honest search to represent the truth even if it is not what one would wish it to be. 

On the danger of being a journalist
More than 70 foreign and Iraqi journalists have been reported killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The real number is believed to be higher and the list does not include the many translators, drivers and other assistants said by media watchdogs to have died since the conflict began.
 

The deaths of Douglas and Brolan bring the number of journalists killed since March 2003 to at least 122, according to the International Federation of Journalists. Amber said the number of journalists killed in Iraq in less than four years has surpassed that in the nearly decade-long conflict in Vietnam.

More journalists have been killed in Iraq [71] than were killed in all of World War II [69].  "Live From Baghdad: More Dying" By Maureen Dowd.  New York Times May 31, 2006 

Now, the news must be perky


CONCEREN TWO:  THE FOLLY AND DISHONESTY OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

Administration tactics
A Reagan Republican on Bush Republicans’ Smear Tactics

Is the Administration being honest?
The cost of dishonesty:  The corrosive effect of misrepresentation at the top: decay of integrity and commitment throughout the system

The White House Iraq Group, was formed in August, 2002, to sell the war in Iraq to the American public.  It consisted of Andrew Card, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, and Mary Matalin.  [NB.  The administration claims that at that time the decision to go to war had not yet been determined] [Frank Rich NYT 10/16/05] 
"[T]he administration hid the existence of the pre-9/11 warnings for as long as possible and continued to insist for many months after the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein's illegal weapons might still turn up, and it has blocked any official investigation of its role in exaggerating the slender intelligence that existed." [NYT May 10,06]
"A liar is someone who denies the truth to someone who has a right to it." [David Maguire, Prof.  of Ethics, MarquetteUniversity
On the release of the truth of the deception of our country by our own leadership

"Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support" So says the CIA report to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2005. [See BBC 9/9/06; NYT 9/8/06] Anyone who knew the region would have known that. It is in fact not news; it was not even news in 2005.  This was widely known, and certainly was known by the religious elite in the Muslim world, some of whose associates had been executed by Saddam because he distrusted them. It is tragic that such a report had to be written at all and that it is considered news now, after so much loss of life based on a misrepresentation that was repeatedly made by the President, the Vice President, and their staffs as justification for abandoning the war in Afghanistan and turning attention to Iraq. Would the American people have been willing to put our troops into war in Iraq in 2003 if they had known what the President and his people already knew -- that Saddam had nothing to do with the attack on 9/11/01?  SHAME. 

Is the Administration being wise?
Juan Cole on Fallujah
If Colin Powell had been heeded
My rejection of an invitation to join a propaganda campaign for American policy

On the Iraq War

The cost of providing clean water and sanitation for everyone on earth [above current amts]:  $9 billion


The cost of providing health services for women world-wide: $12 billion
The cost of providing education for everyone: $6 billion
The cost of giving food to everyone on earth and basic health care: $13 billion
                                                                              Total:  $40 billion 

The cost of the war in Iraq: $429 billion [as of 5/7/06] [and counting]:  No, a new calculation by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes is that it will cost $2 trillion. [NYT 10/24/06, and Milken Institute Review]
What the Generals Say:


The Iraq war is "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history." 
[Lt Gen Wm Odom, National Security Agency director under R. Reagan] 

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces" [Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.] 

Ten catastrophic blunders made by the Bush team leading to the Iraq nightmare.  [Gen. Anthony Zinni.  Former CentCom commander]

"What makes Patrrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that ... took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. ... Mr Wilson and his wife were trashed to protect that larger plot." [Frank Rich, NYTimes 10/16/05]
Finally.  They are admitting they got it wrong.  One can't doubt the objective in Iraq has failed ... [Wm F. Buckley]

Americans, conveniently, "are serial amnesiacs; as a nation, we forget what we have done almost immediately after doing it." [Kenneth M. Pollack in The Persian Puzzle, 2004] 
What the experts say [Foreign Policy Magazine poll, July/Aug, 2006]

In the Summer of 2006 more people were being killed in Iraq every month than were killed in America on 9/11.

Recommended book:  Fiasco, by Thomas E. Ricks.  "...the heart of his book is the second half, beginning in August 2003, when, as he writes, the war really began, with the bombing of the Jordanian embassy and the emergence of the insurgency. His strongest critique is that the U.S. military failed to anticipate--and then failed to recognize--the insurgency, and tried to fight it with conventional methods that only fanned its flames. What makes his portrait particularly damning are the dozens of military sources--most of them on record--who join in his critique, and the thousands of pages of internal documents he uses to make his case for a war poorly planned and bravely but blindly fought." --Tom Nissley

I have many friends who disagree with the concerns I express here.  Many of them believe that the criticisms of the Bush administration are calumnious attacks against their man in the White House, someone who, finally, understands their point of view.  These are good people.  I know them.  I know that if they believed that the matters I bring up here were true, they would be as outraged as I am.  But there are people in this administration who know otherwise and who persist in misrepresenting the truth.  For them there is a special warning:
Rescue those being led away to death;
Hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say,  “But we knew nothing about this,”
Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it? 
Proverbs 24: 11, 12 


CONCERN THREE:  THE AMERICAN DEBT

DO YOU REMEMBER?  STRANGE AS IT MAY SEEM, THERE WAS NO AMERICAN DEBT IN THE LATE 1990s

Now, every man, woman, and child owes $150,000.  Every newborn child in this country comes into the world with this debt.  And it is rising.

Currently, the capital inflows [that is, the amounts being pumped into this country to keep it going; a debt to be paid by succeeding generations] amount to 700 billion dollars and are rising every year (from ~2% of GDP in 1997 to 6% in 2004).  If pensions, healthcare, (and defense), are going to  drain such an increasingly significant share of GDP in future years, where does the money come from to promote economic growth of the sort that will pay for all of this? 

[Soon we will have] exhausted our savings, lost our competitive edge and squandered our educational heritage.[Bill Gross, PIMCO [Mar 06] Investment Outlook]

President Bush has now borrowed more money than all other Presidents combined. The spending that he has enacted is amazing. It amazes me that he calls himself "conservative."”  -Christopher Buckley [son of Wm F. Buckley] on NOW 3/3/06.

CONCERN FOUR:  THE SHAME OF PRISONER ABUSE:  IT HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE AMERICAN ADMINISTRATIONS

Tragic to say, numerous instances of abuse of prisoners authorized by officials in high rank have taken place. 
But another tragedy is the refusal of our administration to admit to its role in the practice.

"The president gave the green light. The secretary of defense issued the rules. The Justice Department provided the rationale. And the C.I.A. tried to cover it up."[William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, interview quoted by Bob Herbert, NYT, 5/30/05]
"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame ...; they do not even know how to blush." [Jeremiah 6:15]
Tony Lagouranis and Allen Mikaelian.  2007.  Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through IraqNew York:  New American Library.

Christianity Today on this administration's policy on Torture
Wrongful Imprisonment also entailed torture   " ... Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe."
"We don't torure" ?  What about Strangulation, Asphyxiation, Blunt force injuries?  Do these count as torture?
Much worse than a few bad apples
Danner on torture The United States has gone "from a country that condemned torture and forbade its use to one that practices torture routinely."
Susan Sontag on Torture
American troops complicit in massacre of Taliban
American leadership complicit in abuse of prisoners
Rumsfeld's policy influence “Remember, we went to Iraq to democratize the Middle East. The last thing you want to do is let the Arab world know how you treat Arab males in prison."
Abuse in American prisons
"Making Torture Legal," by Anthony Lewis. "Reading through the memoranda written by Bush administration lawyers on how prisoners of the 'war on terror' can be treated is a strange experience. The memos read like the advice of a mob lawyer to a mafia don on how to skirt the law and stay out of prison. Avoiding prosecution is literally a theme of the memoranda. Americans who put physical pressure on captives can escape punishment if they can show  that they did not have an 'intent' to cause 'severe physical or mental pain or suffering.' And 'a defendant could negate a showing of specific intent...by showing that he had acted in good faith that his conduct would not amount to the acts prohibited by the statute.'"  [for more go here]
No Accountability on Abu Ghraib
Americans use Syria as a torturing place, torture a Canadian
Opposition to Senate Inquiry into CIA abuse
"I did what everybody else did. It was not according to doctrine, but that was standard practice. That was how things were done,"
Bludgeoned to death in Afghanistan [by mistake]

The critiques of other nations
ArmandaoSpataroItaly's best-known investigating magistrate:  We in Italy knew fascism for many yeasr... We know it's a great mistake to fight terrorism in this way, the way of Guantanamo, the way of renditions [of prisoners to other countries for "interrogation"].  It's extremely damaging to all our effoerts to integrate our Muslim communities who see these practices as unjust." 
BaltasarGarzonItaly's investigative magistrate:  "A model like Guantanamo is an insult to countries that respect laws... It delegitimizes us..."  NYT 6/4/06 p.16 

From a Guantanamo detainee [now freed]: "[W]hat I heard so many times resounding from cage to cage, what I said myself so many times in my moments of complete despondency, was not, "Free us, we are innocent!" but "Judge us for whatever we've done!" There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty."  [MouradBenchellali, "Detainees in despair" NYTimes June 14, 2006] 

During the Holocaust: “Everything that happened happened because someone made a decision. To pull a trigger, to flip a switch, to close a cattle car door, to hide, to betray. ..." [From A search for six million, by Daniel Mendolsohn.  NY:  Harper Collins, 2006.]


Fall, 2004. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG WITH OUR ADMINISTRATION?

Jimmy Carter's speech to the Democratic National Convention was one of the best statements of the dilemmas created by the Bush administration that I have seen recently. 

Gen. Anthony Zinni.  Former CentCom commander:  "The 10 Mistakes that Bush Made"  A list of the catastrophic blunders made by the Bush team leading to the Iraq nightmare.

"Ex-Diplomats Protest Bush's Anti-Palestinian Policies" by Jim Lobe.  President George W. Bush's policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not only damaging the United States' credibility worldwide, but are putting U.S.diplomats, civilian contractors and the military at heightened risk. That's the message that at least 60 former U.S. diplomats and other government officials who have served overseas will deliver to the President later this month. 

A Constructive Vision for America's Role in the World by George Soros.  Published on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 by CommonDreams.org.  Commencement Address, delivered at the ColumbiaSchool of International & Public Affairs,  Monday, May 17, 2004 

"U.S. Military Whistleblowers Face Retribution" on NPR, NPR transcripts online


CONCERN FIVE:  WHAT HAS GONE WRONG WITH THE WHITEEVANGELICALCHURCH IN AMERICA?


PROTECTION OF PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
The Christian Coalition against Jimmy Carter, the only President who had a Bible class before being elected President and returned to his Bible class afterward.  He was abandoned by the "Christian Coalition" for this reason:  [according to Ralph Reed:] "The greatest spark of the movement was not abortion but an attempt by the Carter-appointed head of the Internal Revenue Service to require Christian and parochial schools and academies to prove that they were not established to preserve segregation or they would risk losing their tax-exampt status. ... For conservative evangelicals it was nothing less than a declaration of war on their schools, their churches, and their children.  More than any other single episode, the IRS move against Christian schools sparked the explosion of the movement that would become known as the religious right." [Active Faith, p. 105] 


Was this the reason that the evangelicals in the South turned to the Republican Party? 

THE ABSENCE OF A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE:  Consider, for example, 
>> For a long time there was a general indifference in the Christian public to the discovery that our government regularly practices torture and sends prisoners off to other countries to be tortured [but see above the recent article in Christianity Today, and also "www.nrcat.org"]. Good news:  finally the national Association of Evangelicals has come out against torture: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/12/AR2007031201080_pf.html.

>> The general failure of many evangelical churches to pray regularly for our troops in battle, even though our country is involved in two wars; or to pray for our country's enemies,  even though growing numbers of the peoples of the world now despise and fear our country.

>>  DavidKuo, former assistant director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, says that there is a problem with "the base" of the religious right, and indifference for the needs of the poor.  Instead, there is a focus on homosexuality, cloning, abortion, etc.  There is something "spiritually wrong":  "You're taking the sacred and making it profane."  "[T]he name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics."  "[E]vangelical Christians need to take a step back. To have a fast from politics," ...  "People are being manipulated.  Good and well-meaning people..." [60 Minutes , Oct 15, '06] 

>> What can be said in defense the following advertisement by an evangelical organization that calls itself "Revival":   "Revival is a Christian organization bringing glory to God by revealing The World That was, The World That Is, And The World That Is TO Come. Our goal is to build on 500 acres in Fort WorthTexas. Please go to our website at: www.americahomelandrevival.com  BECOME A PART OF SOMETHING THAT WILL BE BIGGER THAN DISNEY WORLD AND MICROSOFT WORKS PUT TOGETHER!  WOULD YOU HAVE INVESTED IN WALT DISNEY WORLD OR MICROSOFT WORKS AT THEIR CONCEPTION?"
>>  Also see:  http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/tbn.htm

CARELESS BREAKING OF THE NINTH COMMANMENT:  "Thou shalt not bear false witness against your nieghbor."
Many evangelicals have become habituated to the practice of passing around untruths or half-truths about those whom they disagree with.  A notable example was the easy distribution of charges that Obama was a Muslim.  This was a calumnious attempt to sabatoge his run for the presidency that some of his opponents used against him, and many evangelicals passed the word informally without concern for whether there was any basis for it.  This is but one of many instatnces when Christians who otherwise claim to care about the the Ten Commanments in fact have broken the the ninth commandment in the interest of forwarding a political agenda.

   “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon.  Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” [Amos 5:21-24] 
   Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David invent for themselves instruments of music; who drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!  [Amos 6:4-6] 

   Hear this, you who trample upon the needy, and bring the poor of the land to an end, … The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:  "Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.  Shall not the land tremble on this account, and every one mourn who dwells in it, … ?" [Amoz 8:4-8] 

   “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God….   Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? …  If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. [Isaiah 58: 1-10] 

   Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. [James 1:27] 

  "You have neglected the weightier matters of the law -- justice, mercy, and faithfulness." [Jesus, Mt 23:23] 



CONCERN SIX:  PROBLEMS IN PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN, A DANGERCENTER

Afghanistan on the brink, summer 2006
Bin Ladin's continued connections with his family; his family history
How the government of Pakistan treats its rape victim
Pakistan threatens to kill Mukhtar Mai for exposing the abuse of women
An 11 year old wife?
A courageous critique from a Pakistani editor. [5/25/05]
Pakistan's military was involved in the 9/11 attack.
Focus on Pakistan's Jehadis
Pakistani Terrorism
Review of Stephen Cohen's important book on Pakistan
A Burgeoning Poppy Crop

Opium Production in Afghanistan, under the Taliban (2001) and under the Afghan /American government (2005)

 
2001
2005
Acres Planted with Poppies
4,163
510,766
Metric Tons of Opium
40
5,000
Metric Tons of Heroin
5
600
$ worth in Frankfurt and Rotterdam
600,000,000
50,000,000,000
Source:  White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited in FarrukhSaleem,   The News International, Pakistan, April 3, 2005.
Population of Heroin Addicts in Pakistan
1979
2005
Near 0
1,000,000 +
Source: FarrukhSaleem,   The News International, Pakistan, April 3, 2005.

A statistic:  Every 30 minutes a woman in Afghanistan dies in childbirth



CONCERN SEVEN:  GENOCIDE AGAIN

DARFUR, CHAD, SUDAN:  We all say, "Never again" when we think about the Holocaust or the massacres in Rwanda or Bosnia.  In fact, genocide is taking place now in Darfur.  Nicholas Kristof on DarfurTolerable Genocide?  What is to be done?

CONGO: A scale of death that exceeds our imagination:  4,000,000 in the Congo.  More than the population of New Zealand.

The following are articles of concern collected before the summer of 2004


Warnings from the Comptroller General of the United States
"The United States faces a long-term deficit that will only increase as the Baby Boomers retire."  "the current system of federal financial reporting provides an unrealistic and even misleading picture of the government's overall performance and financial condition."  The deficit is about "four times the entire federal budget."Click on the title to see more


Dishonest Forecasting by the Administration
On budget matters,... serious analysts now take administration dishonesty for granted. ...back in February the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities accused the Bush administration of, in effect,   playing three-card monte with budget forecasts. It pointed out that the administration's deficit forecast was far above those   of independent analysts, and suggested that this exaggeration was deliberate.// "Overstating the 2004 deficit," the center wrote, "could allow the president to announce significant 'progress' on the deficit   in late October - shortly before Election Day - when the Treasury Department announces the final figures." // Two months ago Stanley Collender, a respected nonpartisan analyst, warned: "At some point over the next few weeks, the Office of   Management and Budget will release the administration's midsession budget review and try to convince everyone the   federal deficit is falling. Don't believe them."Click on the title to see more


[T]wo thirds of the newspaper markets in America are monopolies. … [As a result,] reporters, editors and critics become caged birds singing the company tune in the information-commodities racket. When they begin to have more in common with the chairman of the board than with the working stiffs who read and watch, journalism turns to slush …. I keep coming back to the subject of media conglomeration because it can take the oxygen out of democracy. The founders of this country believed a free and rambunctious press was essential to the protection of our freedoms. They couldn't envision the rise of giant megamedia conglomerates whose interests converge with state power to produce a conspiracy against the people.  I think they would be aghast at how this union of media and government has produced the very kind of imperial power against which they rebelled.  Click on the title to see more



The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic: The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives [JOHN W. DEAN]
Chicago Sun-Times journalist Robert Novak reported that Valerie Plame Wilson - the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and mother of three-year-old twins - was a covert CIA agent.  Why was Novak able to learn this highly secret information? It turns out  that he didn't have to dig for it. Rather, he has said, the "two senior Administration officials" he had cited as sources sought him out, eager to let him know.  …Why is the Administration so avidly leaking this information? The answer is clear. Former ambassador Wilson is famous, lately, for telling the truth about the Bush Administration's bogus claim that Niger uranium had gone to Saddam Hussein. And the Bush Administration is punishing Wilson by targeting his wife. It is also sending a message to others who might dare to defy it, and reveal the truth.  Nonetheless, what has surfaced is repulsive. If I thought I had seen dirty political tricks as nasty and vile as they could get at the Nixon White House, I was wrong. The American Prospect's observation that "we are very much into Nixon territory here" with this story is an understatement. … Leaking the Name of a CIA Agent Is a Crime …The White House's Unusual Stonewalling About an Obvious Leak. Click on the title to see more



The progressive story of America [Bill Moyers]
Instead of shrinking down the government, they're filling the bathtub with so much debt that it floods the house, water-logs the economy, and washes away services for decades that have lifted millions of Americans out of destitution and into the  middle-class. And what happens once the public's property has been flooded? Privatize it. Sell it at a discounted rate to the corporations.  It is the most radical assault on the notion of one nation, indivisible, that has occurred in our lifetime. I'll be frank with you: I simply don't understand it - or the malice in which it is steeped. ...  These people seem to long for the Gilded Age. That I can grasp. They measure America only by their place on the material spectrum and they bask in the company of the new corporate aristocracy, as privileged a class as we have seen since  the plantation owners of antebellum America and the court of Louis IV.  What I can't explain is the rage of the counter-revolutionaries to dismantle every last brick of the social contract. Click on the title to see more



Some Crazy Guy [Paul Krugman]
Maybe Mr. DeLay's public profile will be raised by his success yesterday in sabotaging tax credits for 12 million children. Those tax credits would cost only $3.5 billion. But Mr. DeLay has embedded the credits in an $82 billion tax cut package. That is, he wants to extort $22 in tax cuts (in the face of record budget deficits) for every dollar given to poor children. ... Mr. DeLay pioneered the "K Street strategy," which - in a radical break with tradition - punishes lobbying firms that try to maintain good relations with both parties. ... When an employee tried to stop Mr. DeLay from smoking a cigar on government property, the majority leader shouted, "I am the federal government." Not quite, not yet, but he's getting there.... Mr. DeLay has described the Environmental Protection Agency as "the Gestapo." ... after the Columbine school shootings, Mr. DeLay called a press conference in which he attributed the tragedy to the fact that students are taught the theory of evolution. ... what we're looking at here is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country. Yet it's considered uncool to point that out. Click on the title to see more



Denial and deception [Paul Krugman]
Leaks from professional intelligence analysts, who are furious over the way their work was abused, have given us a far more complete picture of how America went to war. ... we now know that top officials, including Mr. Bush, sought to convey an impression about the Iraqi threat that was not supported by actual intelligence reports. ... And yet the political and media establishment is in denial, finding excuses for the administration's efforts to mislead both Congress and the public. ... Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability - and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect. Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk - to face the truth and act on it - what will happen to our democracy? Click on the title to see more



Read my lips [Tom Friedman]
That is, when the president says he wants yet another round of reckless "tax cuts," which will shift huge burdens to our children, Democrats should simply refer to them as "service cuts," because that is the only way these tax cuts will be paid for - by cuts in services. ... "It's not the government's services, it's your services" - and thanks to the Bush tax cuts, soon you'll be paying for many of them yourself.  Click on the title to see more



Opening America's View [George Soros]
... Bush makes absolutely no allowance for the possibility that we may be wrong, and he has no tolerance for dissenting opinion. If you are not with us you are against us, he proclaims. ...  A dominant faction within the Bush administration believes that international relations are relations of power. Because we are unquestionably the most powerful, they claim, we have earned the right to impose our will on the rest of the world. ... here is a contradiction between the Bush administration's concepts of freedom and democracy and the principles of open society. In an open society, people can decide for themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy. ...[O]ur model, which has been successful, is not available to others because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and that position is not attainable by others. ... It is a kind of crude social Darwinism in which the survival of the fittest depends on competition, not cooperation. ... We live in an increasingly interdependent world and, due to the progress of technology, our power over nature has increased by leaps and bounds. Unless we use that power wisely, we are in danger of damaging or destroying both our environment and our civilization. ... Applying the concept of power to human affairs is altogether questionable. ...The current world order is a distorted form of a global open society. It is distorted because we have global markets but we do not have global political institutions. As a consequence, we are much better at producing private goods than taking care of public goods such as preserving peace, protecting the environment and ensuring economic stability, progress and social justice. ... There are large and growing inequalities in the world, and we lack the mechanism for reducing them. Therefore we need to strengthen our international political institutions to match the globalization of our markets. Only the United States can lead the way because without U.S. participation, nothing much can be done in the way of international cooperation. Click on the title to see more



EPA leaves out data on climate change [Revkin and Seeley]
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs. ... The editing eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems. Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches that year. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. ... "Political staff are becoming increasingly bold in forcing agency officials to endorse junk science," ... an introductory sentence reading, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment" was cut and replaced with a paragraph that starts: "The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future."  Click on the title to see more



The ecological burden of humanity had already outstripped the carrying capacity of the earth two decades ago.  There are signs that global warming and environmental degradation are accelerating much more quickly than anyone expected even 10 years ago, and thus our ability to reduce the scale of climate change is swiftly diminishing.   Click on the title to see more

Deficits and dysfunction [Peter Peterson]
Among the bedrock principles that the Republican Party has stood for since its origins in the 1850's is the principle of fiscal stewardship -- the idea that government should invest in posterity and safeguard future generations from unsustainable liabilities. ... Over the last quarter century, however, the Grand Old Party has abandoned these original convictions. Without ever renouncing stewardship itself -- indeed, while talking incessantly about legacies, endowments, family values and leaving ''no child behind'' -- the G.O.P. leadership has by degrees come to embrace the very different notion that deficit spending is a sort of fiscal wonder drug.  ... Since 2001, the fiscal strategizing of the party has ascended to a new level of fiscal irresponsibility. For the first time ever, a Republican leadership in complete control of our national government is advocating a huge and virtually endless policy of debt creation. The numbers are simply breathtaking. When President George W. Bush entered office, the 10-year budget balance was officially projected to be a surplus of $5.6 trillion -- a vast boon to future generations that Republican leaders ''firmly promised'' would be committed to their benefit by, for example, prefinancing the future cost of Social Security. Those promises were quickly forgotten. A large tax cut and continued spending growth, combined with a recession, the shock of 9/11 and the bursting of the stock-market bubble, pulled that surplus down to a mere $1 trillion by the end of 2002. Unfazed by this turnaround, the Bush administration proposed a second tax-cut package in 2003 in the face of huge new fiscal demands, including a war in Iraq and an urgent ''homeland security'' agenda. By midyear, prudent forecasters pegged the 10-year fiscal projection at a deficit of well over $4 trillion. So there you have it: in just two years there was a $10 trillion swing in the deficit outlook.  Click on the title to see more


Pattern of Corruption [Paul Krugman]
More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support ...
U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. Yet administration officials continually asserted such a connection, even as they suppressed evidence showing real links between Al Qaeda and Saudi ArabiaClick on the title to see more



16 Words and counting [Nicholas D. Kristof]
 ...the White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit. The Central Intelligence Agency objected, and then it and the National Security Council negotiated a new wording, attributing it all to the Brits. It felt less dishonest pinning the falsehood on the cousins.
... Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel[ligence] community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation.Click on the title to see more



 Deception at the Pentagon
Tell me how members of Congress benefit from increasing costs like this, driving weapons systems that the country doesn't need, spending money that puts us deeper and deeper in deficit. How does Congress gain? SPINNEY: They gain because they get money flowing to their Congressional districts. It's in the way Congress gains from controlling the federal budget. They get money flowing to the districts, that helps build your power bases.Click on the title to see more



Despite the best hopes for an Iraqi democracy, the Iraqi people and the world see only the worst fears of occupation. Instead of inspiring steps toward self-government, we witness hit-and-run murders of U.S. soldiers, terrorist attacks and sabotage. Our military action in Iraq has forged a caldron of contempt forAmerica, a dangerous brew that may poison the efforts of peace throughout the Middle East and result in the rapid invigoration of worldwide terrorism. Click on the title to see more


The United States' policies on Saudi Arabia, Baer argues, are built upon the delusion that Saudi Arabia is stable, that both the country and the flow of its most precious commodity can continue on indefinitely. Sustaining that delusion is the immense amount of money (estimated at $19.3 billion in 2000) exchanged between the two partners: the U.S. buys oil and sells weapons, Saudi Arabia buys weapons and sells oil. Oil and the defense contracts underpinning its protection bind these two countries together in such a way that when Saudi Arabia falls--a fate Baer feels is absolutely certain--the U.S. falls too. Perhaps not all the way down, but, if we don't curtail our dependence, he argues, a failure in Saudi Arabia could have catastrophic consequences for the United States.Click on the title to see more