Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cartoon #127: “Sovereignty”

Title: Sovereignty; Text: (Two Iraqis quoting a passage from the Declaration of Independence, with two US soldiers talking about them.)Soldier 1: Are you listening to that anti-Bush, anti-American nonsense? Soldier 2: They're reciting the Declaration of Independence.

On the first anniversary of sovereignty, the Iraqi government had seven weeks to draft a constitution, with an optional six month extention.

Polls of U.S. citizens showed a majority see the U.S. occupation as a misadventure that is going badly, and a majority think we were lied to about the reasons for the war.

President Bush will try to dispel those concerns with a primetime speech. The anniversary of Iraqi sovereignty will always fall less than a week before the fourth of July. Happy Independence Day.

I may have more to say about this later.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cartoon #194: “Mad Cow”

Title: Mad Cow; Text: 2003: Americans have nothing to fear from mad cow disease... 2005: 2003: Americans have nothing to fear from mad cow disease...

The second case of mad cow disease was confirmed in U.S. on June 24, 2005, as a result of a fourth test that reversed three earlier test results. In December 2003, the United State’s first publicly reported case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state. That cow, we were eventually told, was from Canada. (Whew—thank the lord for smiting Canadians instead of us!)

This time, however, the meat that tested positive was from Texas, the big ol’ buckle on the Bible belt. Most of the news media, as usual, quickly told everyone that none of the bad beef was thought to be in the food supply. How reassuring.

True or not, mad cows are always reported to be of no danger to the public. That is because humans who eat infected beef can develop a variant of the brain-wasting mad cow disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Such comforting journalism about mad cows goes back at least to the British outbreaks of 1996 and 1998.

We were told back then that the British cases were not a precurser of things to come for U.S. cattle. Yet, here we are.

The June 2005 finding did further damage to the cattle industry, and supposedly triggered changes in testing. Let’s hope the new tests are better than the old ones. This second cow, found in November as a “downer cow” that couldn't walk, was at first tagged as high risk. Three tests later (yes, three) it was decided the cow did not have the disease. A fourth test reversed that finding. So much for tests.

Maybe we could call the new tests “No Cow Left Behind.”

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cartoon #193: “Adios Mofo”

Title: Adios Mofo; Text: The Governor’s plan for Texas schools... Adios Mofo!

Texas Governor Rick Perry was caught on tape cursing Tuesday after an interview with a television reporter for KTRK-TV in Houston. The reporter asked the Governor his plans for school finance reform. Perry refused to answer. After the interview, the reporter told Perry, “Try as I may, governor, I guess I can’t win this one.”

Perry thought the videotape had stopped running. He was wrong. His mocking comeback was recorded for posterity: “Try as I may governor, I’m not going to wait that long. Adios, mofo.”

Perry half-heartedly apologized while attempting to pass the buck. He said he was talking to his aide, not the reporter — as if that makes a difference. But there is no damage control that will stop this catch phrase from becoming the rallying cry of Perry’s election opponents in his reelection campaign.

The fun has only just started. Roll tape!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cartoon #192: “Downing Street Minutes”

Title: Downing Street Minutes; Text: Who are you gonna believe? The minutes of meeting...? Or me?

I know who I believe. Not George W. Bush. That's for sure. As the character “Mr. X” in Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK” said, the ultimate power of a government over its people is the power to wage war. U.S. Presidents have never had that power according to the Constitution. But they have always fooled U.S. citizens into war. Such a lie has always been a high crime. According to the Constitution, there are consequences for presidents who commit high crimes. Let the citizen’s beware.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cartoon #191: “Special Session”

Title: Special Session; Text: Rick Perry and the Half-Baked Plan: 'School's out forever!

On June 18, 2005, Governor Rick Perry cast a dark spell over the State of Texas by vetoing $35.3 billion for public education in the new Texas state budget, and calling a special session of the legislature. Lawmakers must now come up with a new school funding plan (something they have failed to do after three sessions under Perry’s “leadership,” despite its top priority) or there will be no 2005-2006 school year in Texas.

That’s because District Judge John Dietz of Austin declared the current school finance system unconstitutional and ordered funding to stop in October if it is not corrected. In the session that ended May 30, the school budget barely passed. Now they have 30 days for deja voodoo all over again. The state’s appeal of Judge Dietz’s ruling was scheduled for July 6. Meanwhile, Texas school children await the July 16 release of the sixth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Bood Prince.” Given the slim chance that Texas schools will open again, they will probably have plenty of time to read it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Cartoon #155: “Edgar Ray Killen”

Title: Gitmo; Text: Close Gitmo, then... close the Bush White House.

Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old Baptist minister and reputed Ku Klux Klan leader, went on trial June 13, 2005, accused of masterminding the 1964 murders of three civil rights activists in Mississippi.

It was the third time Killen pled not guilty to the charges since he was first tried in 1967. In that trial, an all-white jury deadlocked because one juror said she could not convict a preacher. That mockery of justice inspired the 1988 film “Mississippi Burning.”

Killen’s 2005 trial continued the prosecution of cold cases from the civil rights era, beginning with the 1994 conviction of Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers. During such trials many ask why we should care about justice delayed for decades.

Our fear, bigotry and apathy have delayed other truths. It took thirty years, and the courage and dedication of a principled few, to say with finality the simple words: “Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron de la Beckwith.”

The choice President Kennedy gave Americans the night of Medgar Evers’ murder says it best: “Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Throughout his political career, Kennedy made similar statements which grow more haunting with each anniversary of his own unresolved murder:

“For, in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities....A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.”

“The 1930s taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war.”

Cartoon #190: “Gitmo”

Title: Gitmo; Text: Close Gitmo, then... close the Bush White House.

Amnesty International called the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the “gulag of our time”. The U.S. military's official abreviation for Guantanamo is GTMO, pronounced gitmo. The Bush Administration called the comparison ridiculous. Vice President Dick Cheney said the prisoners there are treated with respect, despite their designation as noncombatants. If Cheney is wrong, he and Bush could justifiably find the mistreatment of prisoners included in charges of high crimes against them.

Prior to the Amnesty International accusation, Newsweek was coerced by the Whitehouse and the right-wing media into retracting a report that prison guards desecrated the Quran by flushing a copy in a toilet. Following the retraction, the Pentagon released a report citing several instances of desecration of the Quran to psychologically break the spirit of Muslim prisoners.

Pundits who tried to come off somewhat less reactionary, snubbed their noses at the gulag comparison, while stating that Gitmo has become synonymous with mistreatment. Nice try. Amnesty International qualified its use of the word with “...of our time”. While Gitmo may pale in comparison to the Soviet gulags, it is the closest thing we have to them today. That is why prominent voices are increasingly calling for the prison to be closed, including those of former President Jimmy Carter, and current members of Congress.

Closing the prison would be celebrated worldwide. But that single justice would pale in comparison to the ongoing crimes of the Bush Administration.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cartoon #189: “Mark Felt”

Title: Deep Throat; Text: Deep Throat shown addressing Univ. of Texas conference on Woodward-Bernstein papers

On May 31, 2005, Vanity Fair published an article which claims to reveal the secret identity of the famous Watergate source, “Deep Throat”. Mark Felt, a former assistant FBI director, confessed to the article’s author that he was Bob Woodward’s and Carl Bernstein’s deep-background source who directed their Washington Post investigation.

Ironically, Watergate figure John Dean, who anticipated such a revelation in February in a short column he wrote for Salon, seemed to be the sole public voice of skepticism in a sea of mainstream media acceptance.

Most people know one rule about the “Big Lie”, a propaganda technique made famous by Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for the Nazis: Repeat it frequently enough and it will be accepted as the truth.

But their are two other primary rules:

1. It need be sufficent to be believed by only the least intelligent of the target audience; and

2. The bigger the lie, the more likely it will be accepted as truth.

Today is DT-Day plus three, and all three techniques are still being applied in the U.S. news media regarding the ‘identification’ of Deep Throat. Even media skeptics Al Franken and Mike Malloy, of Air America Radio, are falling for it — initially at least.

But in a continuation of the irony mentioned above, John Dean is remaining the most public voice of skepticism and reason. Dean referenced some of the counterintelligence about the alleged ID on Franken's show yesterday in an eight-minute phone interview (1:20 PM CDT). He ended by saying it is too early to attach motives to Felt because “We don't have all the facts.”

By the way, a more recent aspect of Big Lie technique is to direct a conspiracy inquiry toward the issue of motive. In reality, motive is not part of a conspiracy investigation. The reason is that conspiracy, by definition, involves multiple motives. Searching for motive is a misdirection.

Suppose Team Deep Throat changed its mind about revealing the actual identity. Why? One reason is that such a revelation would automatically reveal sources and methods of obtaining the relevant information. Those sources and methods most likely still have a high level of classification. One of the oldest secret records in the National Archives is a recipe for invisible ink used in WWI. Another most likely has something to say about Mata Hari.

How did DT have access to Woodward’s daily New York Times? How was he able to always know the status of a red flag on Woodward's apartment balcony? Woodward, as reported in his long Washington Post article, published June 2, 2005, does not know. Felt, it is reported, does not remember. Yeah, right. As was famously asked about Nixon, what did Felt know, and when did he know it? What did Felt not know, that DT knew, and when DT knew it? These questions and others are the ones that need to be asked by the news media in the spirit of the legend of Woodard and Bernstein.

Remember, Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, my choice for the actual DT, went on to be Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, and director of the super secret National Security Agency. Keep in mind too, that Inman is at the University of Texas, where he can keep a close eye on the Woodward-Bernstein papers.

“See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

—George W. Bush, May 24, 2005