Sign of the Times

I received this photo from my uncle who says, “This came from one of my most conservative, Republican friends. I guy I’ve known for fifty years from Olympia and who has been rabid in his support of Bush until recently.”

Unless the Democrats take on of the houses of congress, this is REALLY what it takes to get him out.

So it’s true. Many of the hardcore Bush supporters now agree that Bush sucks. That explains these latest poll results. 36% here, and 32% here.

Edward R. Murrow

Born 98 years ago today.

Died in April 1965.

Resurrected last year in Good Night and Good Luck, a great movie.

Some quotes:

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.

The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

Good night, and good luck.

bio page here.

The Generals Revolt – Too Little Too Late

There are two very good reasons why Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will serve out the second Bush term. First, if Rumsfeld quit now it would be under a cloud – well a downpour actually – of failure and incompetence in his mishandling of the invasion of Iraq and its disastrous aftermath. Rumsfeld no doubt clings to the illusion that he will somehow be able to restore his shredded reputation in the next 2 ½ years. Fat chance.

Second, the last thing the Bungler-in-Chief himself wants is the departure of his hapless Defense Secretary, both because he fulfills an invaluable role as lightning rod for the strategic blunders associated with the Iraq War – which might otherwise fall, in full force, upon his own head – and because his resignation would signal an admission of mistakes and failures by Bush himself. God forbid!

There is no question that Rumsfeld deserves the excoriation in print he has received at the hands of a half-dozen retired army and marine generals. Nevertheless, the military brass cannot and must not escape responsibility for their own culpability for the mess in which they placed our forces in Iraq.

It was the military leadership, after all, who prepared and signed off on the plan to attack Iraq with barely 150,000 troops which was sufficient to overwhelm a weakling Iraqi Army but woefully inadequate to the job of occupying the nation. General Tommy Franks, who was responsible for the invasion plan, appears to have mistaken himself for George Patton and the Iraqi Army for the Wehrmacht; he was sorely mistaken on both counts. There was no major land battle; the Iraqis including the Republican Guard essentially just melted away. The hard part (as anybody with even half a brain knew it would), came afterwards. General Franks, however, did not plan at all for the occupation – that’s the part that has actually cost nearly all of the American military deaths and injuries (not to mention Iraqis – mostly civilian). He couldn’t be bothered; wasn’t his job he thought. Left it entirely to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon which, in turn, insisted on taking the job from the more competent State Department and then did – well, nothing. It does not appear that Franks evinced any curiosity at all regarding plans for the aftermath of the actual invasion – a stunning act of voluntary ignorance that has cost our forces dear ever since and that will tarnish his reputation evermore.

Neither can Rumsfeld be blamed for the United States forces’ lamentable lack of training and preparation for irregular warfare. In contrast to the British forces who occupied Basra and its environs, the same American troops who conducted themselves superbly in more conventional forms of warfare, performed far less well when confronted with a burgeoning insurgency. In contrast to the Brits further south, they interacted uneasily, if at all, with the locals and tended to overreact in situations where they felt themselves threatened, with the result that lethal force was sometimes used inadvertentlyagainst innocent civilians. Much less respect for the cultural sensibilities of Iraqis was shown early on by most of the American units. Precious early goodwill engendered by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny was squandered by the heavy- handed tactics of the U.S. soldiers and marines and this fact, together with the failure to assert control over after-conflict chaos and to quickly move to fix essential infrastructure such as electricity and water supply, fed the development of a violent resistance that continues to this day.

How could we have failed to absorb hard-won lessons from Vietnam on waging irregular warfare? Did our military brass really believe that our enemies would fight to our strength and confront us head on in set-piece battle rather than find our weaknesses and exploit them? How could we allow our troops to be placed in a situation where they knew so little about the customs and traditions of the people of a country they were occupying, and so ill-equipped to deal with an insurgency that grew and spread like a cancer?

Our soldiers and marines have done everything we asked of them and more. Too bad their leaders, both civilian and military, proved so unworthy of them.

There is, also, a great irony to all of this. After the Afghanistan Campaign which was supported by all but a fraction of the American people and in which the U.S. very effectively employed a fraction of its conventional military might (using mostly unconventional units), there were few in the world who would have thought it possible to challenge American power. Now in Iraq, the U.S. military appears much less formidable and far more vulnerable. It has been fought to a draw by a collection of independent insurgent groups, some foreign but most Iraqi, with no heavy weapons, no airpower but with a lot of smarts, an uncanny ability to adapt and learn – and no shortage of guts.

This too will be part of George Bush’s legacy – and of those military leaders who failed to properly prepare our servicemen and women, or to stand up to a feckless and arrogant secretary of defense when it really counted.

Living With War

Not long ago, Neil Young announced that he is releasing a new album titled Living With War that he recorded in Los Angeles in just nine days. The ticker on his website reads: “I just finished a new record…a power trio with trumpet and 100 voices… recorded it earlier this month…I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan…”

The album will be available next Friday on his website where fans can listen to the songs for free. Beginning May 2nd, the songs will be available for free digital download. The CD will be available for purchase in early May.

I’ve been a big fan of Neil Young since way back in the seventies. I can’t say that I like everything he’s ever done, but I do like most of it. I especially like the noisy electric stuff with Crazy Horse, because Neil’s lyrical guitar solos with full-on harmonic distortion are masterpieces. (Listen to “Powderfinger” and “Like a Hurricane” off the live album, Weld, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.) His last few albums haven’t really clicked with me, but according to what I’ve heard about Living With War, I think it’s going to be like the noisy Neil Young albums that I love.

So how did the album come about?

Last month at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Texas, conference organizer Roland Swenson recalled Young’s “Ohio,” written after the Kent State shootings. Addressing Young, who was the conference’s keynote speaker, he said, “Mr. Young, we need another song.”

And so he set out to do just that.

And what will it sound like?

On Friday, April 21, 2006, Justice Through Music was invited to a secret preview of the entire CD at Reprise Records Burbank headquarters. At 7:30 pm, a small cadre of people were ushered into a special listening room, and for the next 50 minutes, listen we did.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: this album rocks. It’s post ’80s electric Neil Young at his grunge best, and of the 10 cuts on Living With War, the first eight are mostly uptempo rockers. In fact, this may be the 60-year-old Young’s most crossover-worthy album yet, since many of the songs should appeal to fans of bands as diverse as Green Day and Pearl Jam and will likely be embraced on campuses across America.

But there’s one other tiny thing that makes this record stand out: it is one mother%^&*#% of a protest album. In fact, Living With War may just be the Fahrenheit 9/11 of rock.

But Young kicks out the proverbial jams with the album’s centerpiece, “Let’s Impeach the President.” This song is a blistering, barnstorming indictment of our Commander-in-Thief, and Young borrows a page from Michael Moore here by letting Bush destroy himself with his own words. In the song’s midsection, Bush’s own recorded contradictory statements are juxtaposed against one another to create an incontrovertible pastiche of lies and contradictions while the background singers chant, “Flip… Flop… Flip… Flop…” Incendiary. The CD is worth buying for this one song alone.

Welcome back, noisy Neil.

Go here to find out everything about the album.

Video interview here.

Ignoreland

Once and a while I come across an article that reminds me of that other ridiculous war going on-The War on Drugs. (Our government is losing that one too…)

From today’s New York Times:

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that “no sound scientific studies” supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists.

The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be “moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.”

Dr. John Benson, co-chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee that examined the research into marijuana’s effects, said in an interview that the statement on Thursday and the combined review by other agencies were wrong.

The federal government “loves to ignore our report,” said Dr. Benson, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “They would rather it never happened.”

Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, said he had “never met a scientist who would say that marijuana is either dangerous or useless.”

Studies clearly show that marijuana has some benefits for some patients, Dr. Piomelli said.

“We all agree on that,” he said.

The government is against the medicinal use of marijuana to ease the pain of those who are suffering from AIDS and cancer. Why? Surely the government is aware of the medicinal use of morphine to ease the pain of people suffering from the same diseases and, as far as I know, morphine is a controlled substance too.

What is it about marijuana that the government despises? Is it that they spend billions of dollars to no avail in trying to stop people from smoking it? Just think of how many bombs and bullets they could buy with all that money they waste on trying to control marijuana use.

Red America – Actual Size

Have you ever bought any of those “amazing growing dinosaurs?” You know what I’m talking about? They are small rubbery figures that grow to about ten times their size when you put them in warm water and leave them overnight. Well that’s a pretty good metaphor for the Bush Republican Party. Like a dinosaur, their ideas are ancient and no longer relevant. And, like the toy, it takes some kind of catalyst – like say 9/11 – to make them appear bigger and better than they actually are.

The Bush dinosaur was taken out of the water about a year ago, and now it’s shrunk down to original size-a peanut.

So how small has Red America become?

Three years ago Paul Krugman’s collection of columns, The Great Unraveling, was published. Today he writes of a “great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country.”

In this column he makes this observation about the shrinking of Red America:

Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Mr. Bush’s approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush’s performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Mr. Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.

So what’s left of the conservative agenda? Not much.

That’s not a prediction for the midterm elections. The Democrats will almost surely make gains, but the electoral system is rigged against them. The fewer than eight million residents of what’s left of Red America are represented by eight U.S. senators; the more than eight million residents of New York City have to share two senators with the rest of New York State.

The dinosaour is small, but it still has an appetite, some very sharp teeth and, like the tuatara, it’s still hanging around.

More about Our “Friend” Obiang

Harper’s Magazine points out that Bush signed a presidential proclamation in 2004 that bars corrupt foreign officials from entering the United States.

If you read Obiang’s rap sheet on State Department website and at Amnesty International and then read Section One of the proclamation, you’ll wonder how he ever was allowed into the country.

First thing you’ll need to know to figure out why he was welcomed as a “friend” is that they’ve got lots of oil in Equatorial Guinea. (As they say in Texas, “Oil people is good people!”) Next you’ll need to read Sections Two, Three and Six of the proclamation where you’ll find that Section One doesn’t apply if the visit “is not contrary to the interests of the United States” and that it’s up to the Secretary of State to decide when and to whom the proclamation applies.

Condi, Condi, Condi… Why do you hate America so much?

It looks to me like Bush’s proclamation works about like everything else he’s signed as president: The rule applies unless of course it doesn’t.

Condi Goes a Courtin’

I'm very pleased to welcome the President of Equatorial Guinea, President Obiang.  ...  You are a good friend and we welcome you.

Hey Condi! Who’s that guy you’re shaking hands with? That wouldn’t be Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea would it?

According to the U.S. Department of State website (isn’t that where you work?) President Obiang rules a country with a list of eighteen human rights violations including:

Arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention

Judicial corruption and lack of due process

Government corruption

Forced labor, and

Child labor.

Parade Magazine has included him on the list of the ten worst dictators in the world for the past four years. And in July 2004, the U.S. Senate published a report about how President Obiang skimmed 35 million dollars in oil revenues and stashed it in personal accounts in the notorious Riggs Bank.

You know… the photo of you shaking hands with him kind of reminds me of this one:

Donald Rumsfeld hanging with his old pal, Saddam Hussein.

So when are we going to invade and liberate the oppressed people of Equatorial Guinea from dictatorial rule by your “good friend?” That is how you introduced him last week.

He’s quite a charmer, isn’t he Condi?

Oh Condi, Condi I’m talkin’ to you girl
What’s it gonna hurt come on give me a whirl
Shake your body now let me see you go
One time for me Oh Condi I love you so
Skank for me Condi show me what you got
They say you’re too uptight I say you’re not
Dance around me spinnin’ like a top
Oh Condi Condi Condi don’t ever stop
–Steve Earle