Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, May 30, 2008

Are you aware that on Wednesday, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, speaking at the Guardian Hay Festival in Wales and justifying an attack on Iran, had to be quickly escorted off the stage to avoid a citizen’s arrest for war crimes by Guardian journalist, George Monbiot, for his participation in planning, preparing and waging war against Saddam Hussein?

* * *

Regarding Scott McClellan: Here in Salt Lake City, on Wednesday, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower of the Pentagon Papers, spoke at the gathering protesting Bush during his visit. It was the same day that news hit about McClellan's book. He encourages such truth-telling but asked us to reflect on how many lives could have been saved if he'd told us earlier. He said he tells would-be whistleblowers: "Don't do what I did. Don't wait until the new war has started, don't wait until thousands more have died, the bombs are falling on Iran or elsewhere, before you come out with documents and tell the truth."

* * *

Regarding HBO's Recount. One important thing they got wrong. It wasn't ABC that called the election at 2:16 AM. It was Fox News, specifically John Ellis, the cousin of George and Jeb Bush, who later bragged in the New Yorker that he was on the phone with the two of them throughout the evening.

Wouldn't that have been an important plot point to include?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


My own sign said:





Meanwhile, a similar sign was held high by my husband, Dennis TerraNova, and was picked by The Salt Lake Tribune, posted in their Gallery, and made the front page of the paper the next day:

There were four speakers on this day, Marshall Thompson, a Utah Mormon Iraq veteran, whose brief speech could change the minds of every member of the LDS Church who has made the mistake of supporting Mr. Bush; Kathy Snyder, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq; Daniel Ellsberg, the courageous consultant to the Nixon administration who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, and our own Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, outspoken impeachment advocate, and now the leader of the new High Road for Human Rights.

All four speeches are available for listening or downloading here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Re Recount: Remiss!

When I read last week that James Baker III hosted a preview of the HBO film Recount at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, I knew that this dramatic interpretation of the 2000 election would disappoint those who long for historical accuracy.

And it did.

Not in all ways, mind you, but in some extraordinarily essential ones.

On Sunday morning, I wrote in an email that a true telling of the 2000 election had to include at least two points. An excellent telling would include a third. I finished with "Let’s see how HBO does."

Within minutes of the start of Recount, I yelled out, "NO!" That’s not right!" They blew it coming out of the gate.

The film showed that at 2:16 AM, the vote in Florida, which would be the deciding factor for the entire country, was called by ABC News for George W. Bush, immediately followed by the NBC, CBS and CNN.

But that is simply not the case. History has shown that the first call at 2:16 AM came from Fox News – conveniently omitted by HBO. The person who made that call was John Ellis, the son of former President George H.W. Bush’s sister Nancy, first cousin of both Texas Governor George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He later reported to The New Yorker how "cool" it was to be on the phone with his two powerful cousins, going over the numbers all night and into the morning, until the moment the numbers showed that George had won and Ellis made the fateful call for Bush. Though Ellis claimed he had done the calculations, the actual election projection expert at Fox, Cynthia Talkov, sitting with him, has since reported that Ellis simply gave the call on Jeb’s say-so.

Some may remember this tidbit from the beginning of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, but the detailed review of this moment and its consequences can be found in David W. Moore’s book The News Media and Theft of the 2000 Election, and recently adapted as the opening article "Because Jeb Said So: What Really Happened on Election Night in Florida" in the outstanding book of essays edited by Mark Crispin Miller, Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.

So, on my first point, the HBO film utterly failed.

My second point was the riot at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center on November 22nd, where the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board was attempting to complete a review of over 10,000 disputed ballots. While the film showed that a particular group entered the building, got past the police, and then became actively accusatory, aggressively intimidating, and succeeded in causing the 3-person Board to quit the recount, Recount did not do justice to the truth. The identity of these thugs was left to a throw-away line about Republican operatives flown down in an Enron jet from Denis Leary’s character, Michael Whouley over a drink in a bar. It didn’t event warrant a response from Kevin Spacey’s Ron Klain.

But in truth, the identity of those people has long been documented, especially those featured in an infamous photograph, and many went on to positions in the Bush/Cheney White House or even more profitable jobs with lobbying firms and government contractors.

One would think that the celebration of the success of these efforts, a Thanksgiving banquet in Ft Lauderdale, complete with Wayne Newton singing "Danke Schoen", would have added an entertaining nuance to the film’s story.

As for the third story element I’d mentioned, it was entirely missing. The truth would have been much better served if we could have seen the upset long-time employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, responsible for the production of perfectly successful punch card ballot cards for decades, who were suddenly ordered by the newly-sold company to change the parameters for certain Florida precincts, for the first time, to adjust for humidity, and who witnessed the acceptance of sub-standard paper products that their experienced quality-control managers had rejected. For this revelation, we have Dan Rather and HDNet to thank.

As for James Baker, and his win for the "best man", it was James Doty, a lawyer from his law firm in Texas, Baker Botts, who had written the contract for W’s highly profitable purchase of the Texas Rangers using the money he got when he suddenly dumped his Harken Oil stock. It was also that same lawyer, newly hired by Papa Bush’s appointed head of the Security and Exchange Commission, Richard Breeden, another Baker Botts lawyer, who closed the investigation into George W. Bush’s sudden dumping of that same Harken Oil stock, sold after discovering that the company was failing but before reporting to stockholders the corrected Profit/Loss statement.

It was also James Baker who brought Papa Bush to the Carlyle Group, and the investment income that has multiplied well with government and military contracts.

In the film, Baker recounts why he became a Republican, how a good friend called him up and asked him to join his campaign for Congress knowing that Baker needed to step away from his grief over the death of his first wife, and that friend was none other than George H.W. Bush. How touching. How ironic. Because of James Baker III's actions, there are now families who grieve over the deaths of up to a million Iraqis and Afghanis and over 4,000 American soldiers – to say nothing of the victims of the mismanagement that caused the deaths after Katrina, the high rate of suicides in the U.S. military, and the untold number of victims of policies that have corrupted the EPA, OSHA, MSHA, etc., etc., etc.

So, in retrospect, is the much-publicized telling of the story of an historical decision -- using respected actors and an occasionally daring network, without revealing key plot points that reveal the dark misuse of power, scheming and theft -- still useful?

Or is it simply another manipulation of the media through the dark misuse of power, scheming, and theft to confuse the public and neutralize doubt just months before the next attempt to do it again?

On Memorial Day, let us honor those who have died serving our country by remembering that far too many have died because of the dark side of leadership that sends the military to fight based on lies that hide the real motivations of profiteering and ego.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, May 23, 2008

Former President Clinton's statement that Obama should at least offer Senator Clinton the position of Vice President betrays why Obama shouldn't.

Imagining Bill Clinton as first man has been bad enough, but as the husband of the Vice President, the former President would be a horrendous albatross around Barack Obama's neck.

Isn't there a better place for Senator Clinton in an Obama administration?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, May 16, 2008

On Monday the NYTimes quoted Thor Hearne from the American Center for Voting Rights as a "strong advocate for voter ID laws". Hearne is well known amongst voting integrity activists as the Bush/Cheney2004 General Counsel who suddenly appeared as the spokesman for this 1-day-old organization to testify before Congressman Bob Ney's committee in April 2005 and then participate in the Baker Carter panel the next week -- protesting "voter fraud" -- all to distract from the real problems of the 2004 election - as was proven by the investigative work of Brad Friedman of Bradblog. The website of the ACVR disappeared overnight last year when Hearne's name was tied to the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

After readers contacted the NYTimes about Hearne and his organization, the paper edited the online article -- but instead of acknowledging what they'd learned about Hearne, they simply removed the reference to the American Center for Voting Rights and kept him as a source.
How can we expect a fair election in November when even the often gutsy NYTimes is hiding important information on Republican operatives pretending to be nonpartisan voting integrity experts?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, May 9, 2008

NPR has reported that the FBI's move to seize the computers of Special Counsel Scott Bloch included a "physical search of Bloch's body" and that the FBI seized two thumb drives from Bloch. Is this a sign of where we will have to continue to look to know the truth about what has been going on in the Bush administration?

Will anyone dare to search Karl Rove?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Questions for Diane Rehm's discussion "Iran in Iraq" -- May 6, 2008


House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. has stated that if the U.S. attacks Iran, he and others will initiate impeachment proceedings.

But many are concerned that if this administration does attack Iran, it will also claim that because of a "national emergency" it has the right to enact a kind of martial law that has been created through a series of Executive Orders written by the same legal team that has justified the U.S. use of torture and "extraordinary rendition".

It could then stop its own impeachment.

There is also concern that this White House would, under these circumstances, postpone the upcoming presidential election.

Impossible? Paranoia?

Have we not already been continuously shocked by the above-the-law actions of this administration?

Just what would it do to avoid facing accountability for its lies?

* * * * * * *
Iran has been making friends and signing agreements lately with India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as, of course, Russia.

Does the United States, with its already badly damaged reputation and loss of moral standing, really want to take on all the countries that would stand up for Iran?

* * * * * * *
Is the Bush administration just trying to set up the Democratic President who follows him with an even more impossible mess?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, May 2, 2008

Why has the FBI not exposed the client list of the Washington Madam?

Or is the question: Why was the FBI able to expose and bring down Eliott Spitzer, while far many more in power remain unscathed.

May Day Revisited

Five years ago, while we were dumbfounded and distracted by Mr. Bush putting on a costume and posing and bragging on a floating stage, Seymour Hersh put before us what was perhaps the most important story the American people have ever missed: that the intelligence that brought the United States into Iraq had been supplied via consciously duplicitous machinations within the new Office of Special Plans, under Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky, both former students at the University of Chicago of the political philosopher Leo Strauss, the Father of Neoconservatism.

In his New Yorker article "Selective Intelligence", posted online that first week in May 2003, Hersh revealed to us that many of the political appointees within the Defense Department were guided by Strauss’s underlying principle that "deception is the norm in political life":

"Robert Pippin, the chairman of the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago and a critic of Strauss, told me, 'Strauss believed that good statesmen have powers of judgment and must rely on an inner circle. The person who whispers in the ear of the King is more important than the King. If you have that talent, what you do or say in public cannot be held accountable in the same way.' Another Strauss critic, Stephen Holmes, a law professor at New York University, put the Straussians’ position this way: 'They believe that your enemy is deceiving you, and you have to pretend to agree, but secretly you follow your own views.' Holmes added, 'The whole story is complicated by Strauss’s idea—actually Plato’s—that philosophers need to tell noble lies not only to the people at large but also to powerful politicians.'"

Did you catch that? "NOBLE LIES".

Because we can't handle the truth -- or they can't handle us knowing the truth.

Strauss, uncomfortable with people, believed it was necessary for the elite group of statesmen to maintain their leadership and control the masses.

And he taught that the greatest tool for control is FEAR. He also taught a simple, specific structure for that Fear.

First, there must be an Enemy - an Enemy that's big, and Enemy that's getting bigger and more dangerous -- in fact, the best is an Enemy that presents a build up to the great battle between Good and Evil.

Then, the people must be guided into structures that provide identity and rules of behavior, as well as insure obedience and loyalty: RELIGION and PATRIOTISM.

With those tools, the people are too busy wallowing in paranoia, self-righteousness, and the bipolar condition of outer arrogance and inner doubt, to ever see clearly what is actually happening in their world.

When there is also a media working with the same influences, owned by fewer and fewer entities, all fighting for greater audience share, ownership and power, then the leaders can proceed to further entrench their long-term dominance, both at home and abroad.

Which leads full-circle back to May Day 2003, when Americans took the bait, and celebrated the "Mission Accomplished". We just didn’t understand at the time that the Mission that was accomplished was not ending the threatening power of Saddam Hussein. It was getting us to swallow that bait: that we were the very good guys going after the very bad guys and saving the world -- in the name of God and Country.

When in fact, we were just the foolish puppets of arrogant and greedy liars.

Now, in 2008, we bear the consequences -- with polluted imports, wasteful contractors, impossible debt, lost jobs and homes, shameful dishonor, and a future of yet more kharma to come.

While the written word, carefully explaining in depth the truth that should have made us rise up and stop these Masters of Greed and Destruction, remains quietly shelved in Archives.

Now what?

Now that you know, we know, I know, we have a responsibility to pay attention.

We must study recent history, acknowledge mistakes, demand accountability, and respond strongly to the newest Ignoble lies - that Iran is a threat, that the primaries are going smoothly and our votes are counted, and that we will soon be rid of Mr. Bush and his ilk--

Listen, read, and talk about it – with any and every one, every day. Because it matters.

Then we May live to celebrate a better May Day.


Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, 05/03/07.