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"It's no small thing to come up here and meet before this committee."
(I wish I were home listening to The Osmonds in Salt Lake City.)

BARBARA'S DAILY BUZZFLASH MINUTE

"We were torturing people for no reason." So much for torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib being limited to a few "grunts" at the bottom of the military pecking order! "As a specialist in a military intelligence battalion, Lagouranis interrogated prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Al Asad Airfield and other places in Iraq from January through December 2004. He and other soldiers discussed the Geneva Conventions during military training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in 2003, before being deployed to Iraq. But it became clear they were not always expected to abide by them, he says ...The feeling was that what we had been taught about the Geneva Conventions was not going to be followed anymore." Impeachment is an option that should never be taken off the table!

WORLD MEDIA WATCH

Summaries are excerpted from the source articles; the featured article follows the summary section. A recommended "site of the day" will also appear occasionally following the summaries.

REPAIRING OUR BROKEN DEMOCRACY
By Burt Hall

(Buzzflash has published this article in five parts-this is the last one. For the other parts, see our previous four entries. The first four all concern the misadventures of the Bush presidency, mostly pertaining to our nation's security, and the consistent failure of Congress and the media to hold him in check.)

PART V - THOUGHTS ON INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
In a representative democracy, public opinion influences public policy. Success depends on whether Congress and the media keep the public well informed. Each time the Bush administration went astray, the public was helplessly uninformed or misinformed. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll rates Bush's performance worse than any of his five predecessors. His performance also trails recent presidents rejected for a second term. Yet, we reelected his failed presidency. Our democracy is not working the way it should.

The Economist Intelligence Unit Index of Democracy rates all countries with full democracies in 60 factors divided over 5 general categories: free and fair election process, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. The U.S. ranked 17th, near the bottom.

What has happened to our great media of yesterday? Absent are the hard-nosed and independent investigative reporting that made so many newspeople famous. Even one of the best, Bob Woodward, became a White House stenographer while writing his first two books on the current administration -- Bush at War and Plan of Attack. He returned to the old Woodward we all know and respect in his third book, State of Denial. In earlier times, reporters would dig into important issues and stick with them until the bitter end. Today, reporters hit and run from one subject to another -- nobody closes the deal for the public. (The recent expose of the Walter Reed scandal is a remarkable exception.)

Much of the media has relinquished its independence and acceded to government power and increasing control of big business. Under expanding corporate ownership, the media has a monetary incentive to play it safe and go along with White House propaganda. Goebbels of Nazi Germany set the tone: "Think of the press as a giant keyboard on which the government can play." The Bush administration took full advantage.

Some of the factors that have turned our media from guardians at the gate into stenographers are identified in the book, News Incorporated: Corporate Media Ownership and Its Threat to Democracy:

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Larry Beinhart

It is now a conventional complaint on the Right that university faculties are dominated by liberals.

It's true.

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

The U.S. Attorney Scandal has struck a new victim: the American taxpayer. A judge ruled Wednesday that an epic blunder by federal prosecutors in the largest tax prosecution ever means that the treasury can't recoup at least $100 million in restitution.

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Burt Hall

PART IV - ENERGY, WARMING AND FINANCIAL THREATS

ENERGY DEPENDENCE

Our foreign policy has long been enslaved by dependence on Mideast oil, and very little is being done to break that stranglehold. This dependency makes us vulnerable to oil-rich nations and limits our influence around the world. Other consuming giants, such as China and India, are seriously competing with us for oil, and the surge in demand will surely one day outstrip world supply.

Thursday, 29 March 2007 06:07

BuzzFlash Mailbag for March 29, 2007

BUZZFLASH MAILBAG

Want to join the conversation? Share your thoughts with other Mailbag readers by clicking here.

Subject: Serving at the "Pleasure" of the Populace

A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION

Let me see if I have this right: Congress passes a funding bill for the military that includes time lines and actually gives Bush more than he asked for. It contains some time lines. Bush wants the money, but not the time lines, so he says he's going to veto it.

Thursday, 29 March 2007 04:18

David Swanson: Veto This

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by David Swanson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right to point Unitary Executive George W. Bush toward a copy of the Constitution. The President (should Bush care to resume that legal role) is permitted to veto bills but not to write them. In particular, the President cannot rewrite legislation after it has been voted on and before he signs it. Nor can any member of Congress.

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