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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

TIM RUSSERT: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS HOWARD DEAN?












Where did Vermont Governor Howard Dean go after his ill-fated 2004 Presidential run?

Howard Dean is back, alive and kicking. He is incisive and on point. There is no growling.

On the Sunday, May 22, 2005 “Meet The Press,” in his first television interview since he was elected National Democratic Committee Chairman on February 12, 2005, Howard Dean delineated for NBC’s Tim Russert every major point of contention between the Democrats and Republicans. Russert questioned Dean on everything from the filibuster, to abortion, to Terri Shiavo. Below are highlighted excerpts from this hour-long interview. The full text can be found online at"MSNBC"

THE FILIBUSTER AND JUDGES:

THE FILIBUSTER “IS THE LAST OPPORTUNITY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT PUBLIC POLICY.”

TIM RUSSERT: “The Republicans say on Tuesday that if the Democrats do not stop filibustering their judicial appointments made by President Bush, they will change the rules for the filibuster. What will that change mean?”

HOWARD DEAN: “The change will be dreadful for American Democracy (and) frankly very bad for the Republican party.

“One of the great geniuses of American Democracy, unlike most of the Democracies in the world, is that minority rights are protected. Forty-eight percent of us didn’t vote for President Bush, but we still have some say in shaping the agenda of the Country.

“If the filibuster (extended debate) is gotten rid of in the Senate, first of all it means that the President can put ten judges on the bench that we believe are not qualified to serve. We have confirmed 205 of his judges. He wants those last ten. So they are willing to change the rules to do it.”

Additionally, the president “basically wants to turn over Social Security to the same kind of people who gave us Enron.” Privatization is something the America people don't support by a very large margin. Without extended debate (provided by filibuster), he (Bush) can marshal his party and just ram it right through.”

When Russert pointed out that the Republicans say the filibuster rules change would only “apply to judicial nominations not to legislation like Social Security,” Dean cautioned, “That’s what they say now. What possible indication is there they won’t change their mind later?”

THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM AND MINORITY RIGHTS:

“WE NEED MORE THAN ONE PARTY IN CHARGE. AND THE VOTE ON TUESDAY IS GOING TO BE CRITICAL TO DECIDE WHETHER AMERICAN DEMOCRACY STILL ALLOWS THOSE OF US WHO DIDN'T VOTE FOR THE PRESIDENT TO HAVE ANY SAY IN RUNNING THE COUNTRY WHATSOEVER.”

Dean cited two reasons that “It’s a huge mistake” for Republicans to vote out the filibuster. Congress’s popularity is its lowest since 1933, and “this is an advertisement to the American people, who …suspect something may go wrong” when only “one party is pretty well in charge in Washington” as it is right now.

Dean said when he goes to town meetings he listens to “all comers,” in contrast to Bush whose people bar from entry into town meetings Democrats or Independents who disagree with him. “This is a little bit like that. Don't those of us who didn't vote for the president --- the 48 percent of Americans --- don't we have some say?”

“The truth is,” said Dean, “it's better when parties share power, when even those people who didn't win the election have something to say.”

“You can't cut the minority, especially if the minority is a very large one like 48 percent, totally out of everything.

“It’s a matter of checks and balances.”

TOM DELAY:

“I DON'T THINK PEOPLE LIKE THAT OUGHT TO BE LEADING CONGRESS, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY'RE IN.” “

“(DELAY SAID) `WE DON'T LIKE THE COURT DECISIONS. THE HELL WITH THEM. WE'RE GOING TO DO IT OUT WAY, AND WE'RE GOING TO IMPEACH THEM.’

“Look at the terrible things going on in Congress today,” said Dean, listing the “many ethics problems there.”

Dean pointed out that after the Ethics Committee admonished him three times, Tom DeLay attempted to eliminate that committee.

DeLay attempted to obtain a Congressman’s vote by offering money to the man’s son.

He solicited campaign contributions from Westar, an energy company, in exchange for a “seat at the table.”

He used the Department of Homeland security to track down a political enemy’s private plane.

He is currently being investigated for taking a $100,000 golf vacation in Europe that lobbyists paid for.

“Fourteen judges made decisions in the Terri Schiavo case to allow that family to work out their problems through the court system. Tom DeLay didn't like it. He talks about now impeaching judges and removing them if they disagree.”

Dean noted that, though he hasn’t yet been convicted, DeLay is being investigated by a Texas D.A. for violating that state’s campaign finance law, channeling corporate donations into political campaigns.

Dean noted that DeLay “could end up in jail.”

For a website devoted to Tom DeLay's scandals see "DROP THE HAMMER"

REPUBLICAN CORRUPTION:

“THESE ARE INDICATIONS OF" "A CULTURE OF CORRUPTION AND ABUSE OF POWER IN WASHINGTON.”

Dean detailed similar corruption in the entire Republican administration:

Journalists were paid to write promotional articles for Republican policies.

Republicans concealed scientific reports unfavorable to their pro-business interests. Scientists found that mercury, now making fish inedible, was much a much more dangerous neurotoxin than previously thought. Dean alleged that, despite this study, the president has permitted “rules” that would allow more mercury in the air.

“Even the Republican conservatives were outraged” when the Bush administration lied to Congress, withholding the costs involved in the Medicaid prescription bill.

Congressional and Presidential fundraiser, Jack Abramoff, a Washington insider close to Tom DeLay, promised several Indian tribes to garner support for gaming on Capitol Hill. Referring to this scandal, Dean said, “Lobbyists have been allowed to sell access,” “essentially selling influence to get into the White House.

THE IRAQ WAR:

“I DON'T ADMIRE (BUSH'S) POLICY, BUT HE'S GOOD AT POLITICS. HE GETS ON; HE SAYS A QUICK MESSAGE, 20 SECONDS, REPEATS IT FOUR TIMES A DAY FOR 100 DAYS IN A ROW.”

“SOME OF THE THINGS THAT THE PRESIDENT SAID ON OUR WAY INTO IRAQ, THEY JUST WEREN'T TRUE, AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S RIGHT.”

“Such as?” asked Russert.

“Such as the weapons of mass destruction, which we have all known about.”

Russert questioned whether it wasn’t the intelligence community that misled the president.

“I think many Americans believe, …that there was pressure put on the intelligence agencies, … to come up with the conclusions that the president wanted. That's what I believe, and I think there's some evidence to that.”

Dean said he supported the elder Bush for making a reasonable case for sending troops to Iraq. Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, a U.S. ally, and was torturing his own people.

The younger Bush simply said, “Saddam Hussein is a threat,” and that was “just flat-out false.”

Dean told Russert he observed Bush suggesting “in a nuanced way in many of his speeches” that Saddam Hussein was responsible for September 11?

“He was asked once directly about it and said, `No, I don't have that evidence.’

“But the truth is (he suggested it) in every speech, including the ones during the campaign where he deliberately muddled the anti-terrorism war that we're engaged in with the war in Iraq. They are two separate efforts.

“Unfortunately, because of the president's actions, I would argue that we're in greater danger now because of what's going on in Iraq than we were before. Now, there are terrorists in Iraq. They have migrated there since our troops were there.”

“I don't think you send American men and women to war, first of all without properly equipping them, and secondly without telling the truth to their parents about why it is we're asking them to make that sacrifice.”

ETHICS AND HONESTY IN GOVERNMENT:

“HYPOCRISY IS A VALUE THAT I THINK HAS BEEN EMBRACED BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.”

“THIS IS A FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICAN BETWEEN THE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS.”

“You've got to be ethical in government,” Dean emphasized. “Honesty in government is important. It’s something that’s lacking in Washington right now.”

THE DEMOCRATIC AGENDA:

DEAN SAID HE WANTED THE DEMOCRATS TO "OFFER A DIFFERENT VISION TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.”

“I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE GOING TO INSIST ON IS ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT. I'D LIKE SOME REAL POLITICAL AND CAMPAIGN AND ELECTORAL REFORM AS PART OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM.”

“ARE WE GOING TO STAND UP FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? ARE WE GOING TO STAND UP FOR FREEDOM AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY?”

Dean listed his preferred items on the Democratic agenda:

Pension Reform

Leaving social security alone without privatization except for a few “tweaks” to fix problems that may happen in 30 to 40 years.

Real jobs.

Closing the deficit. He noted that Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was the one President in 35 years to balance the budget.

SOCIAL SECURITY AND PENSION REFORM:

"THE PRESIDENT 'BASICALLY WANTS TO TURN OVER SOCIAL SECURITY TO THE SAME KIND OF PEOPLE WHO GAVE US ENRON.”

“YOU CAN'T TRUST REPUBLICANS WITH YOUR MONEY.”

Expanding on Bush’s push to privatize social security, Dean stated the President has admitted privatization will not help the problem in 2042. It will, on the other hand, help Republican campaign contributors and pro-Bush business supporters.

“It also removes the risk from the government and puts it on the individual recipients. And it doesn't, contrary to what the president said, earn any more money once you get through the fees and so forth.”

Dean sees the president’s pursuit of private accounts leading to an attack on both private and public pensions. Bankruptcy court judges are presently “undoing” United Airlines employees’ pensions.

“If you take a $9 billion item off the balance sheet of United Airlines, all the other airlines are going to want to do the same thing.”

“I don't think we ought to attack the Social Security system. It is the last line of defense that Americans have when they lose their pensions.”

REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY AND RUSH LIMBAUGH:

“IT IS GALLING TO DEMOCRATS TO BE LECTURED TO ABOUT MORAL VALUES BY FOLKS WHO HAVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS.”

RUSSERT: In March, you said, "Republicans are brain dead." You mentioned you're a physician—and…(quoting) "[Dean] did draw howls of laughter by mimicking a drug-snorting Rush Limbaugh. `I'm not very dignified,' Dean said."

DEAN: “Well, that's true. A lot of people have accused me of not being dignified.”

RUSSERT: But is it appropriate for a physician to mock somebody who has gone into therapy and the abuse for drug addiction?

DEAN: “Here's the point I was trying (to make).. I also said something about Bill O'Reilly. The problem is not that these folks have problems…of a drug addiction. That's a medical problem. And I respect those who clearly, in my profession, are trying to overcome their problems.

“The problem is it is galling to Democrats --- 48 percent of us who did not support the president…to be lectured to about moral values by folks who have their own problems.

“Rush Limbaugh has made a career of belittling other people and making jokes about President Clinton, about Mrs. Clinton and others. I don't think he's in any position to do that, nor do I think Bill O'Reilly is in a position to abuse families of survivors of 9/11, given his own ethical shortcomings. Everybody has ethical shortcomings. We ought not to lecture each other about our ethical shortcomings.”

DEMOCRATIC VALUES: “DEMOCRATS HAVE STRONG MORAL VALUES.”

RUSSERT: But should you jump in the fray and be mocking those kind of people?

“I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy. I'm not going to be lectured as a Democrat--we've got some pretty strong moral values in my party, and maybe we ought to do a better job standing up and fighting for them.

“Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans', is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.

“Our moral values say that people who work hard all their lives ought to be able to retire with dignity.

“Our moral values say that we ought to have a strong, free public education system so that we can level the playing field.

“Our moral values say that what's going on in Indian country in this country right now in terms of health care and education is a disgrace, and for the president of the United States to cut back on health-care services all over America is wrong.

“Frankly, my moral values are offended by some of the things I hear on programs like `Rush Limbaugh,’ and we don't have to put up with that. Our problem in this party is we didn't stand up early enough and fight back against folks like that who thought they were going to push us around and bully us, and we're not going to do it anymore.”

ABORTION:

“I THINK THE REPUBLICANS ARE INTRUSIVE AND THEY INVADE PEOPLE'S PERSONAL PRIVACY, AND THEY DON'T HAVE A RIGHT TO DO THAT.”

“SHOULDN'T THIS BE A REALM WHERE DOCTORS AND WOMEN MAKE UP THEIR MINDS INSTEAD OF POLITICIANS? WHAT DO POLITICIANS KNOW ABOUT PRACTICING MEDICINE?”

RUSSERT: One issue where the Democrats seem to be changing their thinking is abortion. Here's Howard Dean on April 17: `I think we need to talk about abortion differently...

`Republicans have forced us into a corner to defend abortion...’ And then, April 21: `If I could strike the words `choice' and `abortion' out of the lexicon of our party, I would.’

DEAN: Absolutely.

“Here's the problem---we were outmanipulated by the Republicans. We have been forced into the idea of `We're going to defend abortion.’

“I don't know anybody in either party who is pro-abortion. The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care, or a family has a right to make up their own mind about how their loved ones leave this world.

“Let me tell you why …I want to strike the words "abortion" and "choice."

“When I campaigned for this job, I talked to lots of Democrats. And there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South. And one lady said to me, you know, "I'm pro-life. I don't like abortion. I would never have one. I would hope my daughter would never have one. But, you know, if the lady next door got herself in a fix, I'm not sure I should be the one to tell her what to do." Now, we call that woman pro-choice, but she thinks of herself as pro-life. The minute we start with the "pro-choice, pro- choice, pro-choice," she says, "Well, that's not me."

“But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is `Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets,’ then that pro-life woman says
`Well, now, you know, I've had people try to make up my mind for me and I don't think that's right.’

“This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual. Democrats believe in individual rights, personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn't win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.

“You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was president?

We need to reduce the number of abortions in this country. There is common ground between us and pro-life Democrats, and we ought to find that common ground.

“There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who call themselves pro-life. There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who believe in individual choice and personal responsibility. I think we can work together. There are not many of us who want to see the abortion rate continue to go up as it has under President Bush.”

TERRI SCHIAVO AND RIGHT TO DEATH:

“IN THE CASE OF LIVING AND DYING---THIS IS EVERYBODY'S NIGHTMARE, AND BELIEVE ME, AS A DOCTOR, I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MANY TIMES I HAD TO FACE THIS.”

“THE SCHIAVO CASE WILL PROBABLY BE THE TURNING POINT ABOUT OUR ABILITY TO MAKE OUR CASE TO AMERICANS ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE INVASIVENESS OF REPUBLICANS WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING PERSONAL PRIVATE DECISIONS.”

RUSSERT: I want to talk about a comment you made: "We're going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, `Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not, or is that going to be up to your loved ones?'"

Why didn't one Democratic senator stand up in the U.S. Senate and stop the legislation regarding Terri Schiavo if the party feels so strongly about it?

DEAN: Well, you know, I didn't say anything about it. That really was in the middle of the Social Security fight, and I do think in general it is true that Tom DeLay has now become a huge issue, not because we made him one; it was because the papers made him one. There were all these other things that have now come to light that he's doing.

“On the Terri Schiavo case, first of all we have to remember these are human beings. This is a terrible, terrible case, but it's something that almost every American can relate to.

“A lot of Americans can't relate to abortion. They don't think they know anybody that's ever had one or ever had to take--be in that position. It turns out that's not true. A lot of people--most people don't talk about it. But in the case of living and dying, every American family--this is everybody's nightmare, and believe me, as a doctor, I can't tell you how many times I had to face this.

“The reason, as the (Democratic National) Chairman, I didn't say anything about it at the time, is because we are on a roll with Social Security.

“I myself, who thought it was a terrible thing, did say so but didn't have a press conference and grandstand about it in a big way is because we need to stay on message on Social Security.

“So in the middle of a huge Social Security fight where the future of, I think, people's livelihood and seniors' security is at stake, I didn't want to get dragged into that. But--and maybe we should have said, "No, this is outrageous," because the public obviously agreed with us. But I didn't realize at the time what the impact of what they were trying to do was. Part of it was because 14 court decisions in a row and then the backlash was `We don't like the court decisions, the hell with them, we're going do it our way and we're going to impeach them.’

“As it turns out the Schiavo case will probably be the turning point about our ability to make our case to Americans about the incredible invasiveness of Republicans when it comes to making personal private decisions.

“In places like Arizona, for example, where there's a huge ethic almost--libertarianism about individualism, this is the action of the Republicans that will undo them and any claim that they prefer to allow individuals to make up their own mind. This is the case that ultimately I think is going to galvanize Democrats into being the party of individual freedom and individual and personal responsibility.”

MORAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES:

“I'M A COMMITTED CHRISTIAN. I WORSHIP IN MY OWN WAY. IT CAME OUT IN THE CAMPAIGN THAT I PRAY EVERY NIGHT. THAT'S MY BUSINESS. THAT'S NOT THE BUSINESS OF THE PHARISEES...TO PREACH TO ME ABOUT WHAT I DO AND THEN DO SOMETHING ELSE.”

“YOU EITHER BELIEVE IN THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS OR YOU DON'T. I DO.”

RUSSERT: It's interesting. You said that the issue is are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? And I was reading the Pew Research Center where they went out and surveyed 11,000 of your closest advisers...

DEAN: Right.

RUSSERT: ...contributors, activists, volunteers. It was quite striking. Dean activists vs. all Democrats--attend church seldom or never, 59 percent of Dean activists seldom or never as opposed to 25 percent of all Democrats; 92 percent white, 82 percent liberal, 45 percent over 75,000. Is your base secular, affluent, white and liberal?

DEAN: That was a very fascinating study. The only methodological problem is they only went on the Internet, and, therefore, you could answer or could not.

“Look, I fit into some of those categories. I don't go to church all that much. I consider myself a deeply religious person. I consider myself a Christian. I am sick of being told what I and what I'm not by other people. I'll tell you what I am. I'm a committed Christian. I worship in my own way. It came out in the campaign that I pray every night. That's my business. That's not the business of the Pharisees who are going to preach to me about what I do and then do something else.

“You know, I care about values a lot. I grew up in a Christian household. I'm a Congregationalist. People say, "Well, those are liberals." Well, since when do Christians get tagged liberal or conservative? You either believe in the teachings of Jesus or you don't. I do. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I don't go around wearing it on my sleeve. And I think that's a private matter.”

DEMOCRAT FUND-RAISING AND CAMPAIGN STRATEGY:

“WE ARE GOING TO GO AFTER THE REPUBLICAN--WHAT THEY THINK IS THE REPUBLICAN BASE. WE'RE GOING TO GO AFTER RED STATES. THERE ARE SOME OF THOSE STATES THAT WE CAN WIN. MY PHILOSOPHY IS ACTUALLY THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A RED STATE AND A BLUE STATE. THERE ARE PURPLE STATES. SOME ARE MORE PURPLE THAN OTHERS. WE NEED TO BE EVERYWHERE, AND WE WILL BE.”

RUSSERT: Republicans say January through March, they've raised $32 million, double what the Democrats have raised.

DEAN: You know, Republicans have always been better at raising money than we have. But don't forget, I've only been in office for 100 days. We're still raising money at twice the rate we were in the first year of McCain-Feingold, which was 2003, and we're raising $1 million a week. We're also putting people, who are hired by--local people on the DNC payroll in every state in America. And that is going to be really what's going to create the opportunity for us to win.

We cannot run 18-state campaigns. We've got to be everywhere. We've got to be in Mississippi. We've got to be in Oklahoma. We have to be organized. By the end of this year, we have a goal of having a Democrat in every precinct in America. We need to do this from top to bottom just as the Republicans did. They have a 30-year plan. There's nothing I admire about what the Republicans are doing to this country politically, but I admire their campaign business model a great deal. And we're, frankly, going to adopt a lot of it that works for Democrats.

VERMONT SENATE VACANCY: BERNIE SANDERS:

“A BERNIE SANDERS IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE IS GOING TO BE A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN SOMEBODY WHO WILL VOTE TO CONFIRM RIGHT-WING JUDGES, SOMEBODY WHO WILL VOTE TO UNDO MINORITY RIGHTS, SOMEBODY WHO WILL VOTE TO KILL SOCIAL SECURITY.”

RUSSERT: In your home state of Vermont, there's a vacancy for the United States Senate about to occur. Bernie Sanders, the congressman from Vermont, wants to run for that seat. He is a self- described avowed socialist.

DEAN: He's really a populist.

RUSSERT: He wrote in his book: "Outside or in the House, I am a Democratic socialist."

“Well, a Democratic socialist--all right, we're talking about words here. And Bernie can call himself anything he wants. He is basically a liberal Democrat. He runs as an Independent because he doesn't like the structure and the money that gets involved. And he actually has, I think, some good points about campaign finance reform. The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time.

RUSSERT: So you'd support him?

“We may very well end up supporting him.”

RUSSERT: In 1996 you said you would never have voted for Bernie Sanders. Instead, you opted in recent years to leave the ballot blank.

“Bernie and I have had our difficulties over the years. We've had our strong disagreements. He's a strong personality. We're fighting for the future of America. This is a battle where personalities and differences have to be put aside, and we have to do what's right for America.

“Bernie Sanders will be a strong candidate.”

JOHN BOLTON:

”I DONT' KNOW JOHN BOLTON PERSONALLY, BUT FROM WHAT I'VE READ IN THE NEWSPAPERS, HE DOESN'T SEEM TO RESPECT ANYBODY WHO DISAGREES WITH HIM. THAT'S PROBABLY NOT A GOOD ATTRIBUTE TO HAVE IF YOU WANT TO BE AN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS.”

DEAN: The difference between me and John Bolton is that I've never called up a subordinate and tried to influence their testimony or behavior. I've never had--tried to move somebody out of their job because they disagreed with me. I have an enormous amount of respect for people who have different opinions, but they have to defend their opinions. You can't just say, "I want to privatize Social Security because I want to privatize Social Security." You have to really show me why you want to do what you want to do. And if you can defend your ideas, I'll respect those ideas. I think the difference between me and John Bolton.

WILL HOWARD DEAN RUN FOR PRESIDENT?

“I DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA. YOU KNOW, IF I COULD PUSH A BUTTON, I WOULD MAKE SURE THERE WAS A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT IN 2008, WHICH WOULD PRECLUDE MY RUNNING--FROM EVER EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT."

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you three photographs: Fred Harris, Henry "Scoop" Jackson and James Farley. Those three men, all chairmen of the Democratic National Committee. And after they served, they all ran for president.

DR. DEAN: And not one of them won.

MR. RUSSERT: Will Howard Dean run for president?

DR. DEAN: I don't have any idea, but I certainly won't do it in 2008. I gave my word not to and I intend to keep that word.

RUSSERT: Governor Howard Dean, as always, we thank you for joining us and sharing your views.

DR. DEAN: Tim, thanks for having me on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

WILL NEWSWEEK'S FLUSHING THE KORAN BRING JIHAD?









Striking that there have been so many major mainstream media mistakes of late.

First reporter, Jayson Blair, seriously undermined the New York Time's century-old gold standard credibility by manufacturing news. Then there was Dan's Rather pathetic apology in September 2004 for unauthenticated documentation of lapses in Bushes' National Guard record. Now the death of fifteen people in Afghan riots because of a paragraph-long news story that nobody but Newsweek and the Pentagon saw for weeks.

One wonders if the News Giant and the Octagonal Behemoth hoped no one would notice the story, and it would all just go away.

The sad truth is that Afghans who got released from Gitmo went home and told folks what was really happening there. Rule of Thumb: When you hear a rumor from an eyewitness, it's probably true. No one else but former prisoners could be privy to it. No one else is allowed inside.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib confirmed the slow stain of the spreading word. The Newsweek story was the tripwire detonating a long-ticking explosive device.

Sadder still is the fact that Westerners do not understand that the image of someone flushing the Koran down a toilet, whether or not it was actually done, is a major hit to the spiritual solar plexus of the largest religious group on the planet. The core values of this vast population are centered on the Word of the Koran. To desecrate it with excrement, metaphorical or real, will threaten to touch off, sooner or later, the beginning of a Holy War.

The journalists who participated in this sloppy, insensitive "mistake" of not thoroughly checking sources for a story so incendiary could have done far otherwise years ago. They could have written pieces to help The West "grasp" The East, not to absolve from their responsibility the few that perpetrated violence during 911, but to understand their culture. Understanding could have helped us avoid falling into horrible pits like this and saved all our lives from a true Jihad if that came about as a result.


Newsweek should do far more than apologize and retract this story. They took the easy way out.

Newsweek should have mandated reporter Michael Isikoff, Washington Bureau Chief Daniel Klaidman, and its Editor-In-Chief to make formal and public apologies to the Afghani people and the families of the fifteen souls killed in the riots. They should send emissaries to Afghanistan with monetary reparations paid directly to these families for their pain and suffering.

This atrocity should be addressed in at the United Nations as far more than an "incident" with profound International implications. Any attempt to pass it off with pale apologies will merely serve to verify once again the negative world opinion coalescing like a black pestilence around the badly tarnished image of the United States.

The vast numbers of the world's good people, both East and West, deserve much better than this.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

CAN YOU NAME A FEW GOOD LINKS? MAY 2005 UPDATE.

For San Francisco News, try the companion blog"Carol in San Francisco."

Did you know this entire year is devoted to Albert Einstein? It's the 100th anniversary of his Theory of Relativity and the 50th anniversary of his death.

I interviewed 10 San Franciscans to see if they knew the meaning of E=MC2. Check out the interesting results on my Albert Einstein Year Tribute Blog.

For "Justice News and Homeless Blues" in the Bay Area try "Street Spirit," a world class social justice newspaper newly on line. Terry Messman, Editor. A publication of the American Friends Service Committee.

The Bay Area's Award-winning National Black Newspaper,The San Francisco BayView is a superb social justice publication. I am proud to have contributed an article to the Front Page this week (5/4/5)New State Law Makes Food Stamps Available to People with Drug Convictions.

San Francisco Call. For Betsey Culp's love affair with Everything San Francisco.

The SF BulldogSmart and Funny Political Satire from a very cool dude.

The Usual Suspects A Phenomenal Linkage Site to Most Bay Area News Media.

WindyCityLefty A Chicago Blogger with a wild and wonderful Progressive tongue in cheek.

For a rollicking good time, check out Windy's response to "You Gotta Have Heart" called "Heartless Bastards" (for link, see above, this Blog, comments). He includes what seems like every statement of Self-Compassionate Self-Congratulations trumpeted out by Bush, et al since the first election, plus a couple of (really bad) songs. Enjoy!


More to come.