Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Truth telling by U.S. newsmedia is a lost art

Truth telling is an art that, by any measure, has been relegated to the past by the U.S. newsmedia.

Members of the press, generally, no longer present the facts in an objective manner, particularly as it affects developments in the Middle East.

Pressure by right-wing Jewish groups and others on the media has been highly effective and Americans have been brainwashed into believing one side of the story while the other side is simply distorted or ignored.

The stories we get are a highly sophisticated form of disinformation.

Robert Fisk addresses this issue in an article entitled "Telling It Like It Isn't," first published in the L.A. Times. (Here is the link via Truthout.)

"I used to call the Israeli Likud Party 'right wing,'" he said. "But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected." And so now, I asked? "We just don't call it 'right wing' anymore."....

This is only the tip of the semantic iceberg that has crashed into American journalism in the Middle East. Illegal Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land are clearly "colonies," and we used to call them that. I cannot trace the moment when we started using the word "settlements." But I can remember the moment around two years ago when the word "settlements" was replaced by "Jewish neighborhoods" - or even, in some cases, "outposts."...

Then there is the "wall," the massive concrete obstruction whose purpose, according to the Israeli authorities, is to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from killing innocent Israelis. In this, it seems to have had some success. But it does not follow the line of Israel's 1967 border and cuts deeply into Arab land. And all too often these days, journalists call it a "fence" rather than a "wall." Or a "security barrier," which is what Israel prefers them to say. For some of its length, we are told, it is not a wall at all - so we cannot call it a "wall," even though the vast snake of concrete and steel that runs east of Jerusalem is higher than the old Berlin Wall....

For Palestinians to object violently to any of these phenomena thus marks them as a generically vicious people. By our use of language, we condemn them.
In conclusion Mr. Pitts writes: "So let's call a colony a colony, let's call occupation what it is, let's call a wall a wall. And maybe express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit."

Given this biased reporting, it is no wonder that most Americans have been brainwashed into believing that Israelis are "good" and Palestinians are "bad."

The question that remains unanswered and has led to so much resentment and hatred not only in the region but all across the globe is: Given that Palestinians had absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust, why were hundreds of thousands thrown out of their homes to make room for Jewish immigrants after WWII?

Is it any wonder that the Arab/Muslim world resents the humiliation that Palestinians have suffered for the better part of six decades given that Palestinians are seen as one of their own?

Answering these and other questions honestly is clearly taboo and one of the reasons that the war on hatred declared by members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis" will not be won anytime soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Talking about impeachment....

I am obviously not alone in thinking that abuse of power should result in impeachment, particularly in light of Republican righteousness when insisting in making fools of themselves by impeaching President Clinton for a matter totally unrelated to governing.

How could these same individuals possibly ignore the lies, deceptive tactics and total disregard for the rule of law practiced by Bush-Cheney and not take steps to impeach these individuals?

To suggest that lying about SEX is a worse offense than lying about issues that directly led to WAR is obviously the height of irresponsibility. Hopefully, Congress will realize the seriousness of the situation as the following article brings to light:

The following is from a Barron's December 26 article entitled "Unwarranted Executive Power - The Pursuit of terrorism does not authorize the president to make new laws" by Thomas G. Donlan (emphasis mine):

"Certainly, there was an emergency need after the Sept. 11 attacks to sweep up as much information as possible about the chances of another terrorist attack. But a 72-hour emergency or a 15-day emergency doesn't last four years.

In that time, Congress has extensively debated the rules on wiretaps and other forms of domestic surveillance. Administration officials have spent many hours before many committees urging lawmakers to provide them with great latitude. Congress acted, and the president signed.

Now the president and his lawyers are claiming that they have greater latitude. They say that neither the USA Patriot Act nor the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act actually sets the real boundary. The administration is saying the president has unlimited authority to order wiretaps in the pursuit of foreign terrorists, and that the Congress has no power to overrule him.

"We also believe the president has the inherent authority under the Constitution, as commander-in-chief, to engage in this kind of activity," said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Department of Justice made a similar assertion as far back as 2002, saying in a legal brief: "The Constitution vests in the president inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that Constitutional authority." Gonzales last week declined to declassify relevant legal reviews made by the Department of Justice.

Perhaps they were researched in a Star Chamber? Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.

Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.

Some ancillary responsibility, however, must be attached to those members of the House and Senate who were informed, inadequately, about the wiretapping and did nothing to regulate it. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, told Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 that he was "unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities." But the senator was so respectful of the administration's injunction of secrecy that he wrote it out in longhand rather than give it to someone to type. Only last week, after the cat was out of the bag, did he do what he should have done in 2003 -- make his misgivings public and demand more information.

Published reports quote sources saying that 14 members of Congress were notified of the wiretapping. If some had misgivings, apparently they were scared of being called names, as the president did last week when he said: "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

Wrong. If we don't discuss the program and the lack of authority for it, we are meeting the enemy -- in the mirror."

The time has long past when the administration was able to play offense and silence the opposition. But, they keep on trying....


My Christmas wish list....

My Christmas wish list...

1. I want my country back.

2. Impeach His Royal Lowness George II for abuse of power.

3. Impeach Cheney-the-Machiavellian for deceptive tactics.

4. Get rid of Tom-the-DeLayed for abuse of power.

5. Get rid of Bill-the-Friskie for insider trading.

6. Clean up the political system. Allow restricted individual contributions only.

7. Get rid of politicians who advocate and/or support unprovoked wars fought largely by those who are poorest while the "elite" fills its pockets with blood dollars. A highly disgusting spectacle to watch given that the kids of those who give the orders are safely ensconced in their warm nests at home.

8. Use tax payers' dollars for construction as opposed to destruction.

9. Teach science (evolution) in science class and the HISTORY of religion in history class. Other references to religion should be taught in churches, synagogues and mosques. Separation of church and state is one of the most valuable gifts we were given by our Founding Fathers.

10. Don't confuse the next generation with fairy tales in a cynical attempt to exercise political control over the "unwashed masses."

11. Decide whether U.S. employers want to hire undocumented immigrants. If they are needed to perform jobs in the U.S., they should be treated with respect and afforded the basic necessities. If not, employers should be fined for hiring illegals. Nothing else will work.

12. Individuals in power should STOP attempting to control the world. Resentment and hatred do not grow in a vaccum. It is high time to ask the question "why do they hate us" and answer it honestly: It's the double standards stupid!

13. Stop telling the American people that "Osama hates our freedoms" and respond by severely restricting those same freedoms.

14. Stop engaging in transparent double standards that inevitably lead to resentment and hatred. Is it any wonder that, say, Iran wants to become a nuclear power, particularly after witnessing the occupation of Iraq?

15. If non-proliferation is to work, ALL nations in the Middle East should be nuclear free, including Israel.

16. Declare Jerusalem, the city where all great religions converge, an OPEN CITY and invite Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives to govern it. Such a gesture would be applauded all across the globe and serve as a much needed symbol of unity at a time where divisiveness continues growing.

17. Stop using "God" or "Jesus" to justify bloody occupations of foreign nations. It's the ultimate insult to those who truly believe in a Creator who "loves us all."

18. Stop using the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, written largely by white male mortals (as opposed to God), to lash out against individuals whose sexual preferences are not those prescribed by the majority. To use religion as an instrument to justify bigotry is the ultimate exercise in cynicism.

19. Torture is an instrument that has no place in U.S. policy decision making. Those who advocate its use, should move to a nation where it is practiced.

It's time that decency and honesty returned to our great nation. Sadly, as long as individuals are in power who have seemingly rewritten the Constitution to fit their tactics and objectives, nothing will change.

But, who knows....maybe we'll be lucky and, as we enter 2007, all those individuals who abused their power will no longer be leading this great nation.