Remember what Bush was like before bin Laden?
In Britain, the leader of the government is not elected by a national vote. Rather, the prime minister is the head of the dominant party caucus in the parliament.
It is probably a good thing that the United States decided against going with a parliamentary system, as the boss of the largest partisan caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives is a fellow named Tom DeLay.
But the parliamentary system does force British leaders to campaign on a more human scale -- and to face more poignant and powerful questions.
Bankruptcy reform was a handout to the credit card companies, the prescription drug bill was a multibillion-dollar donation to the pharmaceutical industry, the repeal of the death tax was a handout to the Paris Hiltons of the country. Never before in our history have our politician's words been as out of touch with their actions.
This is no accident. While Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff have been sucking the pork out of the barrel, their intellectual lackeys have systematically been creating an entire language of Republican doublespeak. In fact they have gotten so brazen at it, their chief spin doctor, Frank Luntz, went on The Daily Show to demonstrate how it's done.
For the past six months, readers of thenation.com and I have been working to pop the festering boil on our political life with the skewer of satire. We've been building a Republican Dictionary that will be published as a book in the fall. We are almost finished, but we still need a few more funny, sharp, and biting definitions. We need your help, specifically for words like "The Patriot Act," "The War on Drugs," "Airport Security," "The House Ethics Committee," "Tom Delay," "Creationism," "Crusade," "Proliferation," "Blue State," "Red State," "The United Nations," "Zell Miller." (Click here to submit your ideas.)
Earlier this month, we followed-up Ari Berman's report about two 16 year-old Muslim girls who were arrested in New York City on specious grounds that they were potential suicide bombers, by urging Nation readers to get involved in the case. It's now a few weeks later and despite some media attention, protests and the continued lack of evidence, the young womens' predicament is more dire than ever.
The girls are currently being held without charge while undergoing legal proceedings closed from the public and the media in which they do not have access to the evidence used against them. Few details about the arrests have been released. What we do know, however, suggests that the charges could well be unfounded and propelled more by anti-terrorist hysteria than by actual evidence. Adding to this suspicion, an FBI official recently told the New York Daily News that, "Nobody here believes they are wanna-be suicide bombers."
Click here for background on the case, click here to listen to a relevant NPR segment and check out Detainment, a new blog created to offer updates and ways you can help. One of the best ways is to click here and make a contribution to an Emergency Family Fund for the families and legal fees of the two detainees. You can also come out for May 11 rallies in New York City, Philadelphia and the Bay Area.
The US media barely covers the world anymore â€“ except stories that involve those countries that the administration is actively considering attacking and, of course, those lands that have already been invaded and occupied. As a result, many Americans have no idea that a critical election is taking place in Britain, where George W. Bush's closest ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair, is taking a battering on the issue that should have been central to last year's US presidential election: the lies that led to the war in Iraq.
Blair's Labour party is unlikely to be voted out of office in Thursday's voting, in part because the main opposition party â€“ the Conservatives â€“ also supported the war, and in part because a third of the Labour Party's members of parliament opposed Blair's efforts to sign Britain on for Bush's war.
But while his party remains viable, the prime minister's personal approval ratings have tanked. A number of recent polls show that a majority of British voters believe Blair lied to the British people--and his own Cabinet--in order to get Britain on board for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And when Britain's MORI polling agency asked voters whether they approve of how Blair is handling the current situation with Iraq, 63 percent of those surveyed indicated that they disapproved while only 28 percent supported the approach of the man who is derisively referred to as "Bush's poodle."