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Can Peruvian presidential hopeful Ollanta Humala shed his authoritarian
image and chart a new course for his country?

There is a clash of titans underway at the filing room of the federal courthouse in Washington. Now that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and Scooter Libb...

For months now, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has been traveling all across the country fashioning himself as the latest incarnation of warrior Democrat. A key part of Bayh's routine is talking "tough" on Iran. Bayh says Bush "was right to label Iran part of the axis of evil," and agrees with the President that a military strike option should remain on the table. Bayh recently introduced a Senate resolution calling for strict sanctions on the Iranian regime--including cutting off supplies of refined gasoline, denying foreign investment and isolating the regime "diplomatically, financially, and culturally."

No doubt Iran is a bad actor and its anti-semitic President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a full-blown lunatic. But these sanctions sound very much like a pretext to war. If anything, they will only intensify Iran's effort to develop a nuclear weapon. Which is why Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Bayh to take a chill pill on Sunday. From ABC's This Week:

 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Lugar, time for sanctions?

 

When Democrats in my home state of Wisconsin voted at their state party convention last spring to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, they added the name of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to the list.

That still sounds like an appropriate roster for removal.

While there is much attention this week to the call from an ever widening circle of former military commanders in the failed Iraq War and other recent U.S. misadventures -- including a half dozen retired generals -- who have called for Rumsfeld's firing, how much sense does make to get rid of the Secretary of Defense when his actions have been so clearly a reflection of goals and strategies developed by the president and vice president?

Following the recent testimony by Dick Cheney's former chief of staff that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actively involved in scheming to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson, after Wilson revealed that the administration had used discredited intelligence to make the "case" for attacking Iraq, another key figure from the Watergate era has called for a Congressional investigation of wrongdoing by the current occupants of the White House.

On the heels of former White House counsel John Dean's charge that the crimes of the Bush administration are "worse than Watergate," Carl Bernstein, who as a young reporter for the Washington Post was part of the team that broke the story of Richard Nixon's high crimes and misdemeanors, is urging the Senate to launch a bipartisan investigation into the president's actions.

Though he says it is "premature" to talk of impeachment, Bernstein argues in a new Vanity Fair article that, "[It] is essential that the Senate vote -- hopefully before the November elections, and with overwhelming support from both parties -- to undertake a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon."

In the Washington Post Monday, pollster Richard Morin writes about how George Bush's plummeting poll numbers have rendered the red-blue political map close-to-obsolete.

"States that were once reliably red are turning pink," Morin points out. "Some are no longer red but a sort of powder blue." The Washington Post's polling director goes on to note that "In fact, a solid majority of residents in states that president Bush carried in 2004 now disapprove of the job he is doing...[and] views of the GOP have also soured in those Republican red states."

Residents of states Bush carried in 2004 now trust Democrats over Republicans to deal with our nation's biggest problems--48 to 42 percent. And in the 2004 blue states, George Bush's approval rating has declined even further from 45 to 33 percent.

Corporate tax preparers like H&R Block continue to target taxpayers
hungry for rapid refunds with questionable loans.

Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen.

As corporate telecommunications giants accelerate their efforts to create a http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060213/chester ">two-tiered Internet, one of our greatest tools for democracy and equality is under assault. America already lags far behind other industrialized nations in Net access--paying http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0601.podesta.html ">"two to three times as much for slower and poorer quality service than countries like South Korea or Japan"--and if big telecom succeeds, the Internet may be slower and more costly than ever.

Fortunatrely, media rights activists are fighting--and winning--battles to ensure that more, not fewer, are given access to the web. One of the major fronts in the fight to equalize Internet access has been the effort to provide universal wireless service, and cities across the nation are rapidly embracing WiFi-for-all initiatives.

What will Tom DeLay do next?

Will he form a ministry from prison, a la Chuck Colson? Will he join his lobbyist buddies on K Street? Will he become a right-wing activist? Or could he be headed for the White House?

According to US News and World Report, the White House is looking at "an outsider with strong fiscal conservative credentials" to head the Office of Management and Budget. The post became open when Josh Bolten was named George W. Bush's chief of staff a few weeks back. DeLay, apparently, is among the contenders--a fitting position for someone who consistently rubberstamped Bush's budgets in Congress. The rumor surfaced on Wednesday and, to the best of my knowledge, has yet to be confirmed or denied.

If President Bush wants to tell the truth to the American public, he can make Cheney, Rove and Libby come clean about their role in the Plame affair.

As Upton Sinclair's novel turns 100, it reminds us that the best way to
nurture pride in America is to see its underbelly--and tell the truth
about it.

The Nazarene whose resurrection is celebrated Sunday preached a gospel of justice and peace. His sincere followers recognize him as a man of action, who chased the money changers from the temple. But they recall, as well, that he rejected the violence of emperors and their militaries and he abhorred harm done to innocents.

Some years ago, in an effort to promote moral values, Christians of a particular persuasion began wearing wristbands imprinted with "WWJD?" -- the acronym for the question, "What Would Jesus Do?"

After George W. Bush -- who once identified the prophet as his favorite philosopher -- initiated a preemptive attack on Iraq, killing tens of thousands of civilians, critics of the president and his war offered a variation on wristband slogan. They printed bumper stickers that asked: "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Batiste. Eaton. Newbold. Riggs. Zinni….Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn't called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword? While The Nation suggested he resign in April, 2003, an unanticipated and unprecedented cast of characters has joined the growing chorus.

Maj. Gen. John Batiste (US Army, Ret.) is the latest in a line of top military brass to ask the embattled Rumsfeld to step down. As the Washington Post reported Thursday, Batiste said, "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense."

Volumes indeed. Batiste commanded an army division in Iraq and was offered three-stars as well as the No. 2 position there. He chose instead to retire rather than continuing to serve under Rumsfeld. Batiste believes "… the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles…." And, as he told The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, "…the strategic underpinnings of this war can be traced back in policy to the secretary of defense. He built it the way he wanted it."

In the tradition of the late Paul Tsongas, the former Massachusetts senator who in 1991 launched a decidedly uphill run for the Democratic presidential nomination and succeeded in making his concerns about deficit spending central to the national discourse, another former U.S. senator will launch a presidential campaign Monday that seeks to highlight big ideas -- in this case about the Constitution and direct democracy.

Mike Gravel, who represented Alaska as a maverick Democratic Senate from 1969 to 1981, will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination with a press conference at the National Press Club.

Gravel came to national prominence in 1971, during the struggle over the Pentagon Papers, the secret official study that detailed how missteps and manipulations by successive U.S. administrations and their agents had created the quagmire that was the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst, provoked a national uproar when he put the report in the hands of the New York Times, which published portions of it in June of that year. The Justice Department moved to block further publication of information from the Pentagon Papers and to punish newspaper publishers who revealed the contents. At that point, Gravel, a war critic, stepped in. The senator tried to read the contents of the study into the Senate record and to release them to the public, arguing that he had the authority to do so as a senator communicating with his constituents. He then sought to publish the papers in book form as The Senator Gravel Edition, The Pentagon Papers [Beacon Press]. When Justice Department went after the senator and his publisher, Gravel fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court. While lower courts expressed sympathy for the Gravel's stance, the high court rejected his claim that as a senator he had a right and a responsibility to share official documents with his constituents. Fortunately for Gravel, publicity surrounding the case was so damning to the administration's position that it finally backed off.

Last week I wrote about the efforts of Representative Sherrod Brown and others to change a system in which the federal minimum wage has been frozen for eight years at $5.15 an hour, while a corporate CEO earns $13,700 an hour.

But this week there were some hopeful signs--Arkansas raised its state minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. And today the most popular woman in America--Oprah--will feature the struggles of minimum wage workers who earn a maximum of approximately $10,000 annually, and the growing coalition of organizations working to make certain that a hard day's work receives a fair day's pay.

Perhaps if the Republican Congress won't listen to America they will listen to Oprah. Stranger things have happened (why it was only weeks ago that George Bush attempted to wax – while not exactly eloquent--wax interested about America's addiction to oil).

When it comes to mixing God and government, conservatives differ greatly from the rest of the electorate.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's journey toward stillness has been halted
by the roar and rawness of his latest piece.

The art on display at the Whitney Biennial 2006 doesn't have to tell us
it's not morning in America: We know that by watching the evening
news.

The Berkeley law professor's carte blanche constitutionalism was a gift
to the Bush Administration, offering legalistic justifications for
lawless behavior.

US media coverage of the rise of the Latin American left is an echo of
the Bush Administration's simplistic, knee-jerk rhetoric.

Latin America's new leftist leaders are making deals that threaten US dominance in the region.

The infusion of religion into American politics has become the GOP's
Achilles' heel, turning the Republican Party of Lincoln into the party
of theocracy.

A global, grassroots campaign against Coca-Cola is using product bans
and lawsuits to shed light on the corporate giant's exploitation and brutality in Colombia, India and elsewhere.

Analytical weaknesses in a controversial academic paper on the impact
of the "Israel lobby" on US Mideast policy hinder its authors' attempt
to pierce the wall of ignorance and intimidation erected around the
debate.