November 30, 2003

It's not pretty, but you owe it to the people in Iraq to see it (courtesy of WaPo).

By the way, I know there are some who are happy that the Resistance has shifted targeting from Coalition troops ('tho the Spanish and Italians don't see that) to Iraqi "collaborators." Iraqi casualties have been a non-item to the screedia in this country anyway. That's disgusting. I'm glad our young men and women may take less hits - but every life that's lost and every body torn by metal in this damn war is a tragedy!

(Friends: I'm going to take the next couple of days to work on my upcoming essay, "Of Rights and Responsibility".)

Be at peace - soon, please.

November 29, 2003

- - Reviews of the Bush Visit - -

MSNBC: "Some Iraqis welcome Bush, others wish him in hell". Excerpt:

Abu Sara, a restaurant owner in the capital, said if security and living standards under the Americans did not improve rapidly, more Iraqis would turn against the U.S. forces.
''We welcome Bush as we welcome any guest who comes peacefully,'' he said. ''But we want to draw attention to the fact that there is no security, no jobs and no services well into the American occupation of Iraq.
''If the situation continues, Iraqis will use everything they have to throw the Americans out, including stones.''

Le Monde: "Dans les commissariats, la grogne monte contre les Américains". Excerpt:

Grand, massif et flic dans l'âme depuis treize ans, l'officier affirme que la menace ne le trouble pas. "Je fais mon boulot, dit-il. Je sais bien que la population nous prend pour des collabos, mais je travaille pour l'Irak. Pas pour les Américains, qui nous méprisent, ne nous écoutent pas et ne nous fournissent pas les équipements qui nous manquent pour assurer l'ordre. Si vous me demandez mon avis, je dirais qu'ils sont stupides, c'est tout."

Translation, courtesy of truthout, here.

ABCNewsOnline: "Bush's Iraq visit a pre-election PR stunt: analysis". Excerpt:

The daily Vanguardia, published in Spain's second city Barcelona, said Mr Bush was trying to put a positive gloss on an increasingly difficult situation.

It noted that "George W Bush does not attend the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, but has dinner in Baghdad with those who dream of coming home alive".

AlterNet: "A Chickenhawk Thanksgiving in Baghdad" by David B. Livingstone. Excerpt:

It is doubtful that Bush is perceptive enough to note the ironies implicit in both his presence and his pronouncements, though surely Karl Rove and his fellow cogs in the White House spin machine got a chuckle out of every nuance. While speaking for purposes of ostensibly expressing gratitude – isn't that what the holiday is all about in the first place? – Bush's words served instead both to perpetuate illusions and to inculcate fear. The President's repetitive mantra of "terror," "danger," freedom" and the like – the familiar buzzwords guaranteed to fulment unreasoning emotions in the hearts of all good Fox-viewing Americans – seemingly found its origins on Madison Avenue rather than Pennsylvania Avenue.

Be at peace.

November 28, 2003

- - Better Under Bush? - -

We keep hearing from The Cheney Gang that "the good news" from Iraq is just not getting any air time. Gimme a break ovaheah! Whether that's true or not, the fact is that the bad news ain't gettin' alotta play either. So how 'boutcha reality check, by The Progressive's David Bacon, bwo ZNet - "The War on Iraq's Workers". Excerpts:

The disaster that is the occupation of Iraq is much more than the suicide bombings and guerilla ambushes of U.S. troops which play nightly across U.S. television screens. The violence of grinding poverty, exacerbated by economic sanctions after the first Gulf War, has been deepened by the latest invasion. Every day the economic policies of the occupying authorities create more hunger among Iraq's working people, transforming them into a pool of low-wage, semi-employed labor, desperate for jobs at almost any price.

While the effects of U.S. policy on daily life go largely unseen in the U.S. media, anyone walking the streets of Baghdad cannot miss them. Children sleep on the sidewalks. Buildings that once housed many of the city's four million residents, or the infrastructure that makes life in a modern city possible, like the telephone exchange, remain burned-out ruins months after the occupation started. Rubble fills the broad boulevards which were once the pride of a wealthy country, and the air has become gritty and brown as thousands of vehicles kick the resulting dust into the air.

In the meantime U.S. contractors get rich from the billions of taxpayer dollars supposedly appropriated for reconstruction. Iraq's national wealth -- factories, refineries, mines, docks, and other industrial facilities -- are being readied for sale to foreign companies by the occupation's bureaucracy, to whom democracy and the unrestrained free market are the same thing . . .

In August, a representative of the International Labor Organization, Walid Hamdan, visited Iraq. On his return, he made a report to the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU). Guy Ryder, the ICFTU's general secretary, called for an international labor delegation to visit Iraq to investigate conditions for workers. "Ensuring respect for workers' rights, including freedom of association, must be central to building a democratic Iraq and to ensuring sustainable economic and social development," the ICFTU said in a May 30 statement. "Democracy must have roots. It requires free elections, but also mass based, democratic trade unions that help secure it and protect it as well as being schools of democracy." Arab trade unionists are also critical of the occupation's effect on workers.

According to Hacene Djemam, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, "war makes privatization easy: first you destroy the society and then you let the corporations rebuild it." He emphasized that Iraqi workers must be able to form unions of their own choosing.

Meanwhile, US Labor Against the War, which brought together unions and labor councils that opposed the Bush intervention before it took place, prepared a research paper after the occupation started, profiling the US corporations that were given reconstruction contracts. A USLAW delegation to Iraq in October took copies of the report, and offered to assist unions there if and when they confront the kind of union-busting activity for which some of those companies have become notorious. A British labor delegation also visited Iraq in September.

Yeah, there's a lot to read - but it's important. One thing you might notice is that the neocons are trying to build a "society" to their specifications and unionization is the non-violent resistance to that. The Iraqi people are fighting, while most of the so-called "labor movement" (and I use that latter word VERY hesitantly) in the USX is moribund. GO WDTU!

Be at peace.

- - Blowback and Backfire II - -

In a continuation of the theme of my last post on 11/26, PNS tells how, in effect, CIA is responsible for shooting our young women and men out of the sky. Excerpts:

The recent downing of U.S. Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq is yet another example of how the aid supplied by the CIA to Islamist terrorists in the 1980s has contributed to the escalation and spread of terrorism everywhere in the world.

At least two of the U.S. Black Hawk helicopters that crashed in Iraq recently were brought down by the same sophisticated technique -- by taking out the ship's vulnerable tail rotor with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). As right-wing columnists and Web sites have been quick to point out, this is exactly the technique that brought down three Black Hawks in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. Three weeks after this devastating attack, the United States pulled out of Somalia, an event Osama bin Laden has cited as proof that America can be defeated.

But no one to date has pointed out what Mark Bowden, author of the best account of that battle, "Black Hawk Down," reported: that the Somalis on the ground had been trained by Arabs who had fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. As Bowden wrote, it was these Arabs who taught that the best way to bring down a helicopter with an RPG was to shoot for the tail rotor (which keeps the helicopter from spinning by countering torque from its main rotor).

We now know that the Arab trainers of the Somalis were members of al Qaeda . . .

It is of course easy in retrospect to challenge the wisdom of having imparted such skills to jihad-waging Islamists. These were extremists who, even at the time, made it clear they despised the West almost as much as they did the Soviet Union. But what remains is the dangerous system whereby small numbers of policy-makers, acting at the very highest levels of secrecy, are able to make ill-considered decisions that will have long-term, tragic effects worldwide.

Be at peace.

November 26, 2003

- - Blowback and Backfire - -

When will we ever learn? On 11/21, Pacific News Service published this piece by Behrouz Saba. Excerpts:

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia and the world's ninth-largest country, is oil-rich and pro-American, has an increasingly repressive government awash in corruption and a 47 percent Moslem population. Those are many of the conditions that have allowed radical Islam to take root in the Middle East.

The Bush administration, by appeasing Kazakhstan for its oil and accommodation of U.S. troops, risks contributing to the creation of a new Iraq or Afghanistan on a giant scale.

This is just the beginning of a plausible Central Asian nightmare scenario. Numerous other former Soviet republics, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrkyzstan, are similarly ripe for Islamic radicalization in a region that stretches from Europe to China . . .

The Middle East is already beginning to have a corrupting and destabilizing impact on Central Asia, through a brisk drug trade. An exponential increase in opium production since the fall of the Taliban has made Afghanistan the world's largest source of heroin. Drug traffickers are finding safe routes in the vastness of Khazakstan, while there are reports that Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's ruler, is an active participant in the Afghani drug trade.

By supporting such leaders or turning a blind eye to their misdeeds for the short-term use they can be to the United States, the Bush administration is encouraging another blowback.

Then, yesterday, the same PNS's Jalal Ghazi published "Wolfowitz Doctrine Sinks in the Iraqi Quagmire". Excerpts:

The pre-emption doctrine of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz helped fuel the war in Iraq. Wolfowitz argued that the United States should "shape," not just react, to the world, acting alone when necessary and using its military and economic hegemony to foster American values and protect U.S. interests. But the outcome of the Iraq war has brought about the opposite: the quagmire has stymied aggressive U.S. unilateral action and forced Washington to work with European allies and even an old foe, Iran . . .

Iran has supported Iraq's highest-ranking Shiite religious authority, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Hussaini Sistani, who issued a fatwa (religious decree) stating that Iraq's Shiites should refrain from attacking U.S. and British forces. However, Iran's conservatives have also increased ties with Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sader, the main challenger to Sistani, who said recently, "the small Satan (Saddam Hussein) got away and the big Satan (the United States) came." Iran is keeping the door open to support one leader over the other, depending on U.S. actions.

Bremer's strategy may have temporarily placated the Shiites, but Iraq's Sunni population was outraged. Many responded by taking arms against American soldiers. Because they formed the backbone of the Iraqi intelligence and army, the Sunnis knew where weapons were hidden and how to use them. The United States underestimated their ability to deliver painful, deadly blows to U.S. troops.

Just a few weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Wolfowitz argued that military force would bring the necessary political and cultural change in the Middle East in order to defeat terrorism. But now, to keep a fierce guerrilla war from expanding further, the U.S. must put incredible energy into diplomacy and negotiation. Forget "pre-emption," "regime change" and "axis of evil." In Iraq, Washington needs all the help it can get.

It's a fine mess you've got us in this time, Ollie.

Be at peace.

November 25, 2003

- - PNACkle - New Card Game? - -

Looks like Rummy's days may indeed be numbered. PNAC's Gary Schmitt yesterday posted Tom Donnelly & Vance Serchuk's Weekly Standard article entitled "Preparing to Fight the Next War." Excerpts:

But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thinks he can wring greater “efficiencies” from the force. Pace’s study, according to the Post, has presented Rumsfeld with more than 60 ideas for such improvements, including a centrally directed system of force allocation--presumably to measure out units in times of crisis “just in time,” as in the march to Baghdad . . .

But military strategy and force planning are two sides of a single coin. The United States cannot remain the principal guarantor of a global liberal order simply by flitting about the planet like Peter Pan designating targets for B-2 bombers. Rumsfeld constantly talks about “reducing the footprint” of U.S. forces overseas, but for those who have long huddled under American protection, and for those newly freed states that cannot live without it, reducing the footprint sounds suspiciously like contracting the perimeter . . .

Secretary Rumsfeld has said it is not possible to predict with precision where the next threat will come from. But we do know where our wars are likely to be fought in the near term. President Bush, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden are pretty much in agreement on this: It’s the Middle East. Yet the Pentagon continues to cling to a “capabilities-based approach” in which all wars are created equal, and speedy wars are the most equal of all.

You may recall that Rummy was one of the original signers of PNAC's Statement of Principles back in 1997. Looks to me like the relationship is getting rather frayed.

So while I was at PNAC (disguised as a Filipino cleaning lady) I thought I'd look around before I escaped and took off my hip-boots. 'Lo and behold, what did I find? I discovered that Gary, WaPo's Robert Kagan, and I actually agree on something . . . here are some excerpts from Kagan's "No George McGovern" piece (WaPo, 11/17):

It has been said that the United States is polarized these days. Maybe so. But on foreign policy questions, where the country is presumably most polarized, the poles are a little hard to define. The fact remains that a majority of the Democratic Party's most plausible candidates supported the war in Iraq and have not, with the exception of Wes Clark, tried to claim otherwise. Howard Dean is the preeminent antiwar candidate, but aside from his dissent on Iraq, does he really offer a fundamentally different vision of American foreign policy? Will the 2004 election, in other words, be a national referendum on the fundamental principles of American foreign policy in the post-Cold War, post-Sept. 11, 2001, world? At this moment, it seems unlikely, even if the matchup is Bush vs. Dean . . .

Another possibility is that Dean's opposition to the Iraq war has been over-interpreted by his supporters on the Democratic left. They think he rejects the overall course of American foreign policy, just as they do. But maybe he doesn't. They think he's one of them, but his views may not be all that different from those of today's Democratic centrist establishment. When Dean criticizes Bush's foreign policy "unilateralism," he sounds like a policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, not a radical. "There are two groups of people who support me because of the war," Dean told Mara Liasson a few months ago. "One are the people who always oppose every war, and in the end I think I probably won't get all of those people." The other group, Dean figures, simply "appreciates the fact" that he "stood up early" and spoke his mind and opposed Bush while other Democrats were cowed. Dean may not be offering a stark alternative to Bush's foreign policy, therefore, so much as he is simply offering Democrats a compelling and combative alternative to Bush himself. The Iraq war provided the occasion to prove his mettle.

If so, that has two implications, one small and one big. The small one concerns the general election: The Bushies are planning to run against a dovish McGovern, but there's a remote possibility they could find themselves running against a hawkish Kennedy. The bigger implication, which the rest of the world should note well, is that the general course of American foreign policy is fairly stable and won't be soon toppled -- not even by Howard Dean.

In other words, Matilda, as I have oft remarked, it ain't gonna make no difference who sits in the Oval Office in 2005 (unless maybe it's this short cat from Cleveland) - there's a new world odor (no Bob Manis spell check required, thank you).

My fellow Kucinich supporter, Mike at LEFT Is RIGHT is pretty fed up these days. In this post, he calls us to the ramparts. Excerpts:

As Left-is-Right has been saying for a year now, there will be another catastrophic event right before the 2004 election, and Bush will get re-elected as a result of both catastrophe and the Democrat's inability to mount a cohesive opposition. The only course of action is to either accept our fate as dictated by the Neocons, or start a revolution. Nothing less will bring resolution to the rapidly deteriorating state of our nation.

Most readers refuse to accept such an extreme view, and that's understandable given our undying faith in humanity as taught in school, at church and in our homes during our childhood. Once you do accept the fact that we are entering a period of a power-hungry, elite class that is rapidly assuming control of government and business, revolution as the only course of survival makes a lot of sense. The Left so far has failed miserably at nurturing the acceptance of these facts, and time is running out . . .

Exactly what consequences has the Bush Administration paid for their behavior over the past three years? None. We are all standing around, praying that SOMEONE will get their act together, confront evil Bush, and save us all. It isn't gonna happen because the Neocons now hold all the aces.

The only way to upset the card table and throw out the cheaters is to revolt. At least think about it.

I also encourage you to read "Altruism is Out of Focus", an excellent analysis Mike posted earlier in the month.

V.I. Lenin once said, "The greatest enemy of the new radical is the old liberal." That's why I haven't joined the League.

Speaking of Kucinich, Mojo's November/December issue has a nice piece about him - "Little Big Man". By the way, let there be no mistake . . . the main reason I support Dennis is that I'm 56, short, thin, divorced, and don't have a chick in MY life either. The real shame is that I do eat meat, my suits fit, and I really don't wanna be President. So if any of you women who are considering Dennis want somebody not quite so obsessed . . .

Be at peace.

- - More on Martial Law - -

I missed this yesterday, but better late than never . . . the LA Times, by way of GFP - "Mission Creep Hits Home". Excerpts:

Preoccupied with the war in Iraq and still traumatized by Sept. 11, 2001, the American public has paid little attention to some of what is being done inside the United States in the name of anti-terrorism. Under the banner of "homeland security," the military and intelligence communities are implementing far-reaching changes that blur the lines between terrorism and other kinds of crises and will break down long-established barriers to military action and surveillance within the U.S.

"We must start thinking differently," says Air Force Gen. Ralph E. "Ed" Eberhart, the newly installed commander of Northern Command, the military's homeland security arm. Before 9/11, he says, the military and intelligence systems were focused on "the away game" and not properly focused on "the home game." "Home," of course, is the United States . . .

It is only in the case of "extraordinary" domestic operations that the unique capabilities of the Defense Department are deployed. These include not just such things as air patrols to shoot down hijacked planes or the defusing of bombs and other explosives, , but also bringing in intelligence collectors, special operators and even full combat troops.

Given the absence of terrorist attacks inside the United States since 9/11, it may seem surprising that Northern Command is already working under the far-reaching authority that goes with "extraordinary operations." But it is.

"We are not going to be out there spying on people," Eberhart told PBS' NewsHour in September. But, he said, "We get information from people who do." Some of that information increasingly comes not from the FBI or those charged with civilian law enforcement but from a Pentagon organization established last year, the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA). The seemingly innocuous CIFA was originally given the mission of protecting the Defense Department and its personnel, as well as "critical infrastructure," against espionage conducted by terrorists and foreign intelligence services.

But in August, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expanded CIFA's mission, charging it with maintaining "a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense." The group's Assessments and Technology Directorate, which shares offices with the Justice Department's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, has already identified 200 foreign terrorist suspects in the U.S., according to a Defense Department report to Congress.

By the way, after all this, the article goes on to say that we aren't heading toward martial law. You just gotta be fuckin' kiddin' - gedouddaheah!

Be at peace.

November 23, 2003

If you don't see the implications of this, you haven't been paying attention. Excerpts:

Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack

Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.

Franks, who successfully led the U.S. military operation to liberate Iraq, expressed his worries in an extensive interview he gave to the men’s lifestyle magazine Cigar Aficionado.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.” Franks didn’t speculate about how soon such an event might take place. [Emphasis mine] Already, critics of the U.S. Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have argued that the law aims to curtail civil liberties and sets a dangerous precedent.

But Franks’ scenario goes much further. He is the first high-ranking official to openly speculate that the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military form of government.

Hmmm . . . is that the Reichstag I smell smoldering??

Be at peace.

- - Republicans in Disguise - -

This is a list, by state, of Dumbopublicans voting "YES" in the House on Doubleduh's Medicare Bill:

Alabama: Cramer
California: Dooley
Florida: Boyd
Georgia: Marshall & Scott
Louisiana: Alexander & John
Minnesota: Peterson
North Dakota: Pomeroy
Oklahoma: Carson
Oregon: Wu
Tennessee: Davis
Texas: Hall & Stenholm
Utah: Matheson
Virginia: Boucher

That's 16 votes. The bill passed the House by a 15 vote margin. The Democratic Party disgusts me.

Be at peace.

- - Crooks and More Crooks - -

This from the Sunday Telegraph/UK. Excerpts:

Corruption charge deals fresh blow to Iraq handover
By Colin Freeman in Baghdad and Julian Coman
(Filed: 23/11/2003)

American-led efforts to establish a civilian government in Iraq were further damaged yesterday by reports in Washington that the Pentagon is investigating allegations of high-level corruption within the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

The CPA refused to comment yesterday on the claims that two of its officials and a senior Iraqi politician are being investigated for allegedly taking bribes over contracts for mobile telephone networks . . .

Earlier this month, in response to pressure from the US Congress, President George W Bush authorised the creation of a new office of inspector-general within the CPA, which operates under the authority of the Pentagon.

The move came after widespread allegations of price inflation by US contractors and favouritism in the awarding of contracts. Iraqi companies have persistently reported a lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts.

If the "investigator" here is the same DOD IG that found Perle "innocent" of conflict of interest, you know this dog ain't gonna hunt, neither.

Be at peace.

- - J. Edna Hoover Lives! - -

From the NYT today: F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies. Excerpts:

The initiative has won the support of some local police, who view it as a critical way to maintain order at large-scale demonstrations. Indeed, some law enforcement officials said they believed the F.B.I.'s approach had helped to ensure that nationwide antiwar demonstrations in recent months, drawing hundreds of thousands of protesters, remained largely free of violence and disruption.

But some civil rights advocates and legal scholars said the monitoring program could signal a return to the abuses of the 1960's and 1970's, when J. Edgar Hoover was the F.B.I. director and agents routinely spied on political protesters like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"The F.B.I. is dangerously targeting Americans who are engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The line between terrorism and legitimate civil disobedience is blurred, and I have a serious concern about whether we're going back to the days of Hoover."

Herman Schwartz, a constitutional law professor at American University who has written about F.B.I. history, said collecting intelligence at demonstrations is probably legal.

But he added: "As a matter of principle, it has a very serious chilling effect on peaceful demonstration. If you go around telling people, `We're going to ferret out information on demonstrations,' that deters people. People don't want their names and pictures in F.B.I. files."

During anti-war demos in the sixties and seventies, we unnerved FBI photographers by taking their pix while they were taking ours.

Be at peace.

- - Alert! - -

The Independent/UK has this little ditty. Excerpts:

Sweeping measures to deal with terrorist attacks and other emergencies are to be announced this week, giving the Government power to over-ride civil liberties in times of crisis, and evacuate threatened areas, restrict people's movements and confiscate property.

The Civil Contingencies Bill, which covers every kind of disaster from terrorism to the weather, will be the biggest shake-up of emergency laws since the early part of the last century, replacing legislation which saw the UK through a world war and the IRA bombing campaign . . .

And while yer chewin' THAT'un over, mitey, has this one. Excerpts:

MINISTERS are preparing to place the UK on ‘red alert’ in an unprecedented peacetime move that would see the streets of Britain flooded with armed police.

The plan to step up to the highest possible security state follows last week’s devastating terrorist attacks on British targets in Turkey and growing fears that a direct assault on the UK is inevitable.

The nationwide alert would result in tougher security checks across the country and give intelligence agencies and police emergency powers to increase surveillance, phone-tapping and the detention of terror suspects on the basis of intelligence reports . . .

A Home Office source last night stressed the escalated alert would only be triggered by the most specific intelligence about imminent attacks, but added there was growing "resignation" within the department that the move would be necessary sooner rather than later.

So you gotta ask yourself. . . ready for martial law?

Be at peace.

November 21, 2003

- - Badges? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Badges! - -

So . . . a coupla days ago, Richard "The Chickenhawkhearted" Pearle sez, "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing." "The right thing" being, of course, invading Iraq. Note well - this is the first time anyone in The Cheney Gang has admitted publicly that the war is illegal. I don't think anyone in The Gang (except for Rummy) ever says anything that is not calculated - so I conclude that these guys feel safe in saying, "We're above the law." The Guardian has the whole story here.

I just can't pass this up: Jörgen Krönig writing in Die Zeit, as quoted in The Guardian's Press Review:

For most Britons, Mr Bush is just as laughable as he is dangerous, [to them] Mr Bush is just a foolish, uncultivated cowboy, who is linguistically clumsy, who displays an alarmingly limited intelligence, who is a religious fanatic with dubious oil interests and who shoots from the hip.

Now I feel better.

- - More Bread and Circus - -

William Rivers Pitt, in a truthout editorial, thinks maybe the wrong guy was put in handcuffs yesterday. Excerpts:

In the last two years, CNN has not devoted this much energy and coverage to any story in the manner that is unfolding right now. Enron, the stock market, the reasons for September 11, the nomination of Henry Kissinger to chair the investigation into that event, the disinformation that was pushed by the Bush administration before the attack on Iraq, the civilian casualties during the attack on Iraq, the American troop casualties during and after the attack on Iraq, the missing weapons of mass destruction, the missing Osama bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan that is far from over, the outing of a CIA agent by the Bush administration in an act of political revenge, and about two hundred other explosive stories did not get the attention that Michael Jackson is getting now . . .

TV news viewers who think they are getting the hard truth from the mainstream media just forgot Bush exists, forgot the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have dogged his state visit to Britain, forgot the attacks in Iraq, forgot the dead soldiers, forgot September 11, forgot everything except a mutant in a Bronco who lives in a place called Neverland.

They just showed Jackson in handcuffs. The talking heads almost fainted. God bless America.

- - Here . . . Breathe THIS, Asshole! - -

RFK, Jr., writing in Rolling Stone:

George w. Bush seems to be trying to take us all the way back to the Dark Ages by undermining the very principles of our environmental rights, which civilized nations have always recognized. Ancient Rome's Code of Justinian guaranteed the use to all citizens of the "public trust" or commons -- those shared resources that cannot be reduced to private property -- the air, flowing water, public lands, wandering animals, fisheries, wetlands and aquifers.

When Roman law broke down in Europe during the Dark Ages, feudal kings began to privatize the commons. In the early thirteenth century, when King John also attempted to sell off England's fisheries and erect navigational tolls on the Thames, his subjects rose up and confronted him at Runnymede, forcing him to sign the Magna Carta, which includes provisions guaranteeing the rights of free access to fisheries and waters.

The whole piece is here.

- - And just in case you're lost . . . - -

A Current Affairs Primer by Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers includes:

Q. And, don't tell me: After the election, back to neo-con 101?

A. You're a quick study. You got it. If Bush wins, the neo-con attack dogs are unleashed and off we go once again into the bloodred sunset.

Q. Could our government be so mendacious, so greedy, so power-hungry? I don't want to believe that, even of a Bush Administration. Nobody could be that manipulative, so traitorous to American values and long-terms national interests.

A. Wanna bet? The neo-cons (or neo-conmen, as some call them) have spent a good dozen years, and more, getting ready for the day when they could finally see their strategies working in the real world, with them in control. With the implosion of Soviet communism and the installation of a malleable Bush Jr. in the White House - and the monstrous 9/11 attack - they finally got that opportunity, and they're not about to abandon their long-range plans.

Be at peace.

- - Iraq for the, er, um, Iraqis? - -

Excerpts from this Inter Press article, "Contracts Leave Local Business Out" by Peyman Pejman:

U.S. officials have shut Iraqis out of the business of reconstruction contracts, many local businessmen say.

U.S. officials and the contractors working for them favour a few high-profile Iraqi companies they trust, and set excessively high contract standards that most Iraqi companies cannot meet, they say.

U.S. officials have reportedly allowed some companies closely associated with the former regime to win lucrative contracts.

U.S. officials deny most of the charges. They say some of the frustration comes because Iraqis do not understand legal obligations. [Emphasis mine . . . I guess we should ask Richard Perle about "legal obligations" (see previous post)] . . .

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq are awarded through three sources: the U.S. Army, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by Paul Bremer.

USAID contracts are awarded through the Bechtel Corporation. Army contracts are awarded primarily through the Halliburton Corporation which Vice President Richard Cheney headed until he moved to the White House. Some CPA contracts are awarded through Halliburton, but it has also signed some of its own agreements.

The total value of the contracts awarded has not been made public, but sources in Baghdad put the figure above 10 billion dollars.

Be at peace.

- - Iraq for the, er, um, Iraqis? - -

Excerpts from this Inter Press article, "Contracts Leave Local Business Out" by Peyman Pejman:

U.S. officials have shut Iraqis out of the business of reconstruction contracts, many local businessmen say.

U.S. officials and the contractors working for them favour a few high-profile Iraqi companies they trust, and set excessively high contract standards that most Iraqi companies cannot meet, they say.

U.S. officials have reportedly allowed some companies closely associated with the former regime to win lucrative contracts.

U.S. officials deny most of the charges. They say some of the frustration comes because Iraqis do not understand legal obligations. [Emphasis mine . . . I guess we should ask Richard Perle about "legal obligations" (see previous post)] . . .

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq are awarded through three sources: the U.S. Army, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by Paul Bremer.

USAID contracts are awarded through the Bechtel Corporation. Army contracts are awarded primarily through the Halliburton Corporation which Vice President Richard Cheney headed until he moved to the White House. Some CPA contracts are awarded through Halliburton, but it has also signed some of its own agreements.

The total value of the contracts awarded has not been made public, but sources in Baghdad put the figure above 10 billion dollars.

Be at peace.

- - Iraq for the, er, um, Iraqis? - -

Excerpts from this Inter Press article, "Contracts Leave Local Business Out" by Peyman Pejman:

U.S. officials have shut Iraqis out of the business of reconstruction contracts, many local businessmen say.

U.S. officials and the contractors working for them favour a few high-profile Iraqi companies they trust, and set excessively high contract standards that most Iraqi companies cannot meet, they say.

U.S. officials have reportedly allowed some companies closely associated with the former regime to win lucrative contracts.

U.S. officials deny most of the charges. They say some of the frustration comes because Iraqis do not understand legal obligations. [Emphasis mine . . . I guess we should ask Richard Perle about "legal obligations" (see previous post)] . . .

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq are awarded through three sources: the U.S. Army, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by Paul Bremer.

USAID contracts are awarded through the Bechtel Corporation. Army contracts are awarded primarily through the Halliburton Corporation which Vice President Richard Cheney headed until he moved to the White House. Some CPA contracts are awarded through Halliburton, but it has also signed some of its own agreements.

The total value of the contracts awarded has not been made public, but sources in Baghdad put the figure above 10 billion dollars.

Be at peace.

November 20, 2003

I Read the News Today, Oh My! - -

This IPS article by Thalif Dean begins:

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 (IPS) - The U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) will get control of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues beginning midnight Friday when it formally takes over the seven-year-old, U.N. administered "oil-for-food'' programme (OFFP).

The United Nations has already transferred three billion dollars from the programme to the CPA-managed Iraqi Development Fund (IDF), and will send another 1.6 billion dollars Friday.

The programme had been generating seven to 10 billion dollars annually in oil revenues, but proceeds from oil sales will now end up in the coffers of the CPA, headed by U.S. Ambassador Paul Bremer.

Gotta tell yuh . . . after reading this piece I'm just amazed (but not at all surprised) at USX's skill at turning the old murderous sanctions program into windfall revenue for itself.

CBS News Editorial Director has this to say about class warfare. Excerpt:

I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century.

I believe there is no way the counter-class made up of regulators, watchdogs and do-gooders and hack columnists can match wits with the predator class. Today's piles of money are so huge, great fortunes can be amassed by swiping the tiniest of slices in the wiliest of ways long before picked pockets are discovered.

I fail to understand why the Left has been so reluctant to call a spade a spade. Why do we cringe every time someone says "liberal" or "radical" or "class war"? When Democrats protested (not very strongly, though) the tax cuts for the rich, Doubleduh was able to silence them by accusing them of waging class war. Damn right it's a class war!

The Cheney Gang continues to claim that Iraq resistance is supported by "foreign" terrorists coming into the country. According to the NYT, USX generals on the ground disagree. Excerpt:

During a period in which border patrols have been intensified and new technology is being used, that number suggests only modest foreign incursions into Iraq, in contrast to estimates by the Bush administration.

In Washington late last month, officials estimated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq at 1,000 to 3,000, and the White House has been suggesting that foreign fighters are continuing to enter the country and are behind many of the attacks, linking the war in Iraq to the global campaign against terror.

(If you're blocked from NYT online because you don't have a subscription, you can read the article here.)

- - Ouch!! - -

From DU, this Susan Mazur piece about Doubleduh and his daddy's old company, The Carlyle Group is absolutely priceless. Carlyle calls itself the "world's largest private equity firm" and is the 11th largest defense contractor in America as majority shareholder in United Defense. The piece excerpts a speech given by David Rubenstein, Carlyle's managing director. Excerpt:

We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years - you know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.

He said, well I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board.

And I said, thanks - didn't think I'd ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category. So you never know. Anyway, I haven't been invited to the White House for any things.

So . . . you really think The Cheney Gang answers to this guy?

Be at peace.

Middle East International today explored Bolton's (among other Cheney Gangbangers) continued campaign to trash the entire region. Excerpts:

The American threats began immediately after the invasion of Iraq and have now resumed. In May, Bolton alleged: The United States also knows that Syria has long had a chemical warfare programme. It has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin and is engaged in research and development of the more toxic and persistent nerve agent VX. Syria... is pursuing the development of biological weapons and is able to produce at least small amounts of biological warfare agents.

Soon after the attack on Iraq, Bolton rushed to reassure the Arabs on US-financed Arabic Radio Sawa that Iraq was indeed just the start of the crusade. We are hoping that the elimination of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be important lessons to other countries in the region, particularly Syria, Libya, and Iran, that the cost of their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high.

The statement had considerable implications, coming as it did from the man who went to Israel two months before to promise Ariel Sharon that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterwards.

Be at peace.

Stephanie Haaser: Hero of the Year - -

In marked contrast to the subject of the previous post . . . I saw this piece on GMA like three days ago or something, then it disappeared. Now, today, ABC News finally put it up on the web. I hope this woman and her accomplice get the Congressional Medal of Honor for this. She is definition of courage, along with her mother who supports her 100%. And if the National Honor Society continues to diss her - well, fuck'em.

Thank you, Stephanie!!

Be at peace.

November 19, 2003

From a Sierra Club press release yesterday:

Hatched three years ago in the backroom meetings of the Bush/Cheney Energy Task Force, this energy bill has been an act of secrecy from start to finish. Today, the House passed a 1000+ page bill that was just released publicly for the first time on Saturday. Democrats were given almost no time to examine the myriad disastrous provisions of the bill before having to vote on it . . .

Some of the worst provisions of the bill include:

* Making oil and gas drilling the dominant use of our public lands.
* Weakening the Clean Air Act and making it easier for polluters to dirty our air for longer.
* Exempting damaging oil and gas activities from the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts.
* Letting MTBE (a gasoline additive known to pollute drinking water) manufacturers off the hook for cleaning up their own messes, and saddling local communities with a $29 billion cleanup cost.
* Giving billions of dollars to the polluting coal and nuclear industries instead of focusing more resources on cleaner renewable energy like wind and solar power.

- - AARP Sells Out - -

William Novelli, the current CEO of AARP, has just alienated most of his membership by endorsing the Republican-crafted Medicare bill. The AARP Message Board is about to catch fire; Democrats are flabbergasted. The skinny is that this guy is a friend of Newt Gingrich and AARP is these days mostly interested in selling its products. This AARP move is to seniors what the draft is to the young folks. The agenda seems to be pretty clear:

It's no coincidence that one of the rising right wing nut stars, Senator Lindsay Graham, on Tuesday announced a senate bill to start privatizing Social Security. [LINK]

The Medicare bill is just the first step in the Grover Norquist/Bush Cartel plan to dismantle Medicare and Social Security.

Be at peace.

Alert! - -

Speaking of the draft, blogger thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse picked up this Democratic Underground post indicating that, in spite its "recruiting poster" being pulled from the web, the Selective Service has a few $million and plans to rev up by 2005.

Speaking of DU, they've got a great piece by Mary MacElveen this morning, "We Are Being Held Hostage by Apathy." Excerpt:

I have come to the opinion that we are the most disengaged democracy on this planet. That is because almost half of our country just does not care. Some will even tell you with pride that they do not vote and to me that is inexcusable. Many will say that is their right if we are truly living in a free society. They will cite that it is a person's right of free expression which is protected by the first amendment to our Constitution. But, even if one does follow that argument, those that do exercise this right are thwarting the very democracy that this sacred document was written to protect.

Be at peace.

Under the Radar - -

Just when they thought we weren't paying attention, "[t]o the dismay of human rights activists, Washington reopened its embassy on the [Equatorial Guinea's] capital of Malabo last month after an eight-year shutdown." This is a really nasty place, with a really nasty president, but the USX has decided to be friends again. Excerpt of MSNBC story:

The country is so poor that many of its people live off what fruit they can yank off trees and what meat they can kill in the forests. Commerce outside the capital is largely limited to hunters lining dirt roads, selling charred bush-meat on sticks.
Citing a U.N. human rights report that said 65 percent of people in the country were living in ''extreme poverty,'' Wykes said there was ''very little evidence the oil wealth has benefited the general population.''
It appears, in fact, only to be making [dictator] Obiang and his associates stronger.

War in Iraq has this commentary. Excerpt:

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea:

"No. There's no deprivation either. No. You have to understand the level we're at in Guinea. The first problem is the people's cultural level. The people are used to living in a very different way, which you people think is poverty. In Guinea what we have are shortages."

The President says his country's oil revenue is a state secret. The World Bank says it's about $700,000m this year. Campaigning groups like Global Witness are calling for more transparency but the oil companies are as resistant to change as the government. It's not illegal, but they're reported to pay up to $50m per month into a Washington bank account. The President is the sole signatory . . .

And the ones who benefit are his family. His son Teodorino - Minister of Forests - loves Paris. In a video shown on French TV a few years ago, he was seen cruising in one of his two Bentleys. He also has Rolls, a Ferrari, and a Lamborghini, and that's just in France. He was on a shopping spree, with the then Ambassador to Paris. He buys no less than 30 personally tailored suits. No protest from the national treasury, maybe because it's run by another relative, his brother-in-law.

Later, Teodorino decides not to buy a watch, because none are encrusted with enough diamonds. His father, the President, has recently spent $3.5m on two mansions near Washington, using mortgages from the same Washington bank where the oil revenue goes.

Be at peace.

November 18, 2003

Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign For America's Future, writing for AlterNet, says, in part:

We need an economics that puts people first. Repeal those top-end tax cuts and use that money to put people back to work on investments that we need. Build schools and stop laying off teachers and police. Invest in renewable energy and efficiency, reduce our dependence on Persian Gulf oil, lower electric bill, and capture the green markets of the future. Modernize our roads, mass transit and aging water and waste systems. Make the economy cleaner and more efficient. Provide a drug benefit under Medicare and use the buying power to get the best price for everyone. Commit to a full employment economy, allow workers to form unions and empower them to gain a fair share of the profits and productivity that they are already generating.

Also in AlterNet, this David Livingstone piece on Doubleduh's invasion of London. Excerpt:

In the name of Bush's safety, the Secret Service requested that the London Underground, the provider of transportation to millions daily, be closed down. American snipers and special agents traveling with Bush were to be given diplomatic immunity in the event that they should kill any of the expected 100,000 protesters. An artillery weapon called the "mini gun," normally used in battlefield conditions, was to be flown in in case it was deemed necessary to mow down protesters en masse. Vast sections of the city were to be closed to all traffic, forcing the closure of untold hundreds of businesses. Americans were to be placed in charge of all security operations, ahead of the British Scotland Yard, the MI5, the Metropolitan police, and Blair's own security detail. And U.S. fighter jets and Blackhawk attack helicopters, armed with surface-to-ground missiles and high-powered machine guns, were to secure the skies over London.

Be at peace.

November 17, 2003

Who's Sorry Now? - -

AN APOLOGY TO YOUNGER AMERICANS by Sam Smith for the Progressive Review is one of the best pieces I've ever seen. He begins:

In observance of the approaching 66th anniversary of my arrival on this planet I would like to apologize to you on behalf of my generation. Even members of Confederacy had the grace to secede from the union; my generation has remained within like a deadly virus, subverting it, shaming it, screwing it, stealing from it, and finally strangling it. It will likely be known as the worst generation - the one that brought the First American Republic down - unmatched in the damage it has done to the Constitution, the environment, and a two century struggle to create a society democratic and decent in its politics, economics, and social concourse.

Here's my favorite Line:

I am truly sorry we could make no greater contribution to philosophy than the justification of greed in the guise of free market economics, the sanctification of imperialism in the name of nation building, and the notion that it takes only 12 steps to solve all your problems.

Be at peace.

"Hold On to Your Humanity" - -

Linked by the Russian War In Iraq blog, this "An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq" by former Special Forces master sargeant and member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee Stan Goff, is a must-read. Excerpts:

Dear American serviceperson in Iraq,

I am a retired veteran of the army, and my own son is among you, a paratrooper like I was. The changes that are happening to every one of you--some more extreme than others--are changes I know very well. So I'm going to say some things to you straight up in the language to which you are accustomed . . .

. . . The big bosses are trying to gain control of the world's energy supplies to twist the arms of future economic competitors. That's what's going on, and you need to understand it, then do what you need to do to hold on to your humanity. The system does that; tells you you are some kind of hero action figures, but uses you as gunmen. They chump you.

Your so-called civilian leadership sees you as an expendable commodity. They don't care about your nightmares, about the DU that you are breathing, about the lonliness, the doubts, the pain, or about how you humanity is stripped away a piece at a time. They will cut your benefits, deny your illnesses, and hide your wounded and dead from the public. They already are.

Be at peace.

More Foxes Guarding the Chickenhawks - -

Ok, so there was this big bust at Hollinger International, the company that publishes Likud Party-controlled The Jersulam Post. Seems that CEO Conrad Black and couple of other executives were involved in some shady business dealings and were forced to resign. Supposedly it's a pretty big mess.

So guess who's a big wheel with Hollinger and has close ties with Mr. Black. Richard Perle - who is a director of Hollinger International, Hollinger Digital, and Jerusalem Post Publications. Perle, of course, a Black Belt Chickenhawk, has his fingers in (up to the neck) numerous businesses that benefit from middle east turmoil, while also being involved in PNAC and as a close foreign-policy advisor in The Cheney Gang.

Here's the punchline: seems that Dear Richard has "been under investigation" for conflict of interest stemming from his ties with "Trireme Partners LP, a venture capital firm that invests in technology, goods, and services related to homeland security and defense. Trireme also created International Advisors Inc., a lobbying firm whose main client is Turkey. Henry Kissinger is a Trireme adviser, and Perle is a managing partner. Kissinger, who was forced to resign as head of the independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks, has been using his influence to try to keep the Saudis calm during the buildup to war." (The preceding quote is from Disinfopedia/TIA - you can read more about Perle (and others) there. And who's been investigating him? Why, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, of course. And was any conflict found? Yeah, right.

Be at peace.

November 16, 2003

Looks to me like our government is distancing itself from our government. The neocons dumped out a story "proving" that Saddam was funding and arming Al Qaida. So first, DOD disowns the stuff. Excerpt:

The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

Then CIA disowns the stuff, according to WaPo intelligence writer Walter Pincus. Excerpt:

The CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has found no evidence that former president Saddam Hussein tried to transfer chemical or biological technology or weapons to terrorists, according to a military and intelligence expert.

As blogger Bob Manis of The Spy Game reports, it looks like the Iraqi resistance's spook squad is more on the ball than CIA. Why am I not surprised? This USA Today piece goes into detail. Excerpt:

Sophisticated U.S. intelligence tools such as spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping intercepts have been of little practical use, according to intelligence officials in Washington and military officers in Iraq. And despite an intense search and exhaustive intelligence efforts, deposed leader Saddam Hussein remains at large.

The key problem is that Iraqi guerrillas simply have more and better sources than the coalition. U.S. military officers worry that the Iraqis who work for them, such as translators, cooks and drivers, include moles who routinely pass inside information back to insurgents. In at least two cases, Iraqis have been fired on the suspicion that they were spies.

Thing is, even when The Cheney Gang is given the goods, they trash it if it doesn't support the conclusions they've already drawn, according to today's Observer. Excerpt:

British warnings that America was failing before the war to prepare properly for a crumbling security situation in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was ousted were ignored by Vice President Dick Cheney and the Pentagon.

In some of the first direct evidence of serious divisions between the key allies in the run-up to the conflict, the former British Ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, said the US had failed to focus on what might happen after Saddam had been overthrown.

His admission raises serious questions that a lack of planning by US forces is at least partly to blame for Iraq's present security problems.

Be at peace.

It's a Start - -

This from Mike at LEFT Is RIGHT:

"When I was transferring the laundry from the washer to the dryer yesterday I found a quarter. It's now all shiny and clean and after reading your unmitigated plea for donations for your cabana project, I'll be happy to send it. Just let me know where."

Man, them Greenland beaches be startin' to look mahty good! Thanks Mike!

Be at peace.

November 15, 2003

A War Is a War Is a War - -

David Brooks' NYT op-ed piece, "Swords into Plowshares" is one of the better columns written there in the past several months. Excerpt:

Nothing ever changes.

If Dean is our nominee, he may fight the Beltway wars more aggressively than other Democrats, but we will still be a nation at war. I have seen Dean up close. The man hates his opponents. His kind thrives only during times of domestic war.

If we nominate Dean, it will be bad for our party and bad for our country. It will be bad for our party because 40 percent of the voters in this nation call themselves moderates.

If we nominate Dean, George Bush will have a good shot at winning a large chunk of those votes. That's disgraceful after the partisan way George Bush has led this country. But it will be our fault because we nominated someone just as partisan on the other side.

On the other side of town, Peter Boyer writes about Wesley Clark in The New Yorker. The only "good news" from the piece is:

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Clark said, he visited the Pentagon, where an old colleague, a three-star general, confided to him that the civilian authorities running the Pentagon—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his team—planned to use the September 11th attacks as a pretext for going to war against Iraq. “They made the decision to attack Iraq sometime soon after 9/11,” Clark said. “So, rather than searching for a solution to a problem, they had the solution, and their difficulty was to make it appear as though it were in response to a problem.” Clark visited the Pentagon a couple of months later, and the same general told him that the Bush team, unable or unwilling to fight the actual terrorists responsible for the attacks, had devised a five-year plan to topple the regimes in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Sudan.

Reading the rest of the article, however, just depressed me further. It just amazes me that a bunch of Dumbopublicans want to replace the worst Commander in Thief we've ever had with a disgruntled general and friend of Bill Clinton who's judgement has been questioned by the great majority of US Army and NATO military leaders.

And at U.S. News, Gloria Borger discusses the ramifications of funding the War at Home. Excerpt:

End runs. Just watch the money. In this post-campaign-finance-reform world, the millions from fat cats like Soros and Scaife can't be donated directly to the political parties. So the big money is going to organizations instead: think tanks, like Podesta's group. Or voter-registration groups, like America Coming Together, to which Soros has pledged $10 million. Or an activist Internet group like, to which Soros and a partner will give up to $5 million. The Republicans are doing the same thing, of course. "We have to watch all of this and make sure people are not breaking the law," says Fred Wertheimer of the watchdog group Democracy 21. "There is so much intensity, so much dislike of Bush on the Democratic side, they will mobilize all kinds of efforts." That's putting it mildly.

With all this political bullshit, I have the suspicion that maybe even Soros loses sight of what's happening on the ground. As I write, you can take your pick between AP and Reuters as to how many of our folks just died when two Blackhawks collided in Northern Iraq (one has twelve, the others has 17). I feel like I see or hear the word "war" about two hundred times every day. Even this article in the Bremerton SunLink says (empasis mine):

As the U.S.-led coalition forces battle an increasingly fierce insurgency in Iraq, the military's medical system is waging its own war -- and Walter Reed, its premier medical center, is in the thick of it.

As I've said repeatedly, we had an opportunity in the autumn of 2001 to "do the right thing." We blew it. We took a terrible and tragic event and have derived from it a wearying ugliness. Molly Ivins, writing in The Progressive, says:

Well, the Big Picture is that after September 11, we had the sympathy of every nation on Earth. They all signed up, all our old allies volunteered, everybody was with us, and Bush just booted all of that away. Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, demands, arrogance, bluster.

Molly's piece is called "Call Me a Bush Hater." Yeah, me too, Molly, me too.

Y'know, I said I'd never take money for this blog - and I never will. But would anybody like to make a donation for my beachfront get-away cabana in Greenland?

Be at peace.

November 14, 2003

One of the main themes of new progressivism is the attempt to identify and implement alternatives to globalization. This week in Paris, the European Social Forum has drawn around 60,000 to Paris for just that purpose. The gathering in Paris is part of a continuing process started in 2001 with the inauguration of the World Social Forum (WSF).

The WSF describes itself:

"The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where groups and movements of civil society opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism, but engaged in building a planetary society centred on the human person, come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action (see the Charter of Principles)."

The next WSF gathering is in Mubai, India from January 16 through 21, 2004.

Be at peace.

Seymour Says - -

Seymour Hersh, of New Yorker and Pulitzer renown, spoke at Tufts University's Fletcher School yesterday. The details are in this piece in the Tufts Daily. Excerpt:

"Hersh predicted 'real trouble' for the President in the 2004 elections. 'You have a war fought by the underclass, financed by the underclass and for the profit of the upperclass,' He said. 'I think Bush's going to lose [the election], unless he makes some radical change, which he's not going to do.'"

Be at peace.

November 13, 2003

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy - -

From the Florida Times-Union (, this story about how Veterans Day is available only to veterans who support war. The emphasis in this excerpt is mine:

"Parade chairman Ken Conroy, a Korean War veteran, said he ejected the anti-war veterans because they were offensive and because Tallahassee police also wanted them removed."

"The war on Iraq and its aftermath exacted a heavy toll on combatants and civilians, who paid and continue to pay the price in death, injury and mental and physical ill health. Between 21,700 and 55,000 people died between March 20 and October 20, 2003 (the date on which this report went to press), while the health and environmental consequences of the conflict will be felt for many years to come."

Thus begins the Executive Summary of "Continuing Collateral Damage: The health and environmental costs of war on Iraq," a just-released report from Medact. "Medact is a charitable organisation of doctors, nurses and other health professionals who are concerned about major threats to health such as violent conflict, poverty and environmental degradation," according to their website. If you have the PDF Reader, the 16-page report is available here.

Is there any connection between George Soros' plan to fund $millions of anti-Bush ads and the devastating raid on the Russian offices of the Open Society Institute?

In ZNet, Mark Engler on the up-coming FTAA talks in Miami. Excerpt:

"The term globalization, while remaining imprecise, in many instances has stood as a code word for imperialism, or wealthy countries wielding their power over developing economies for their own benefit. Few progressive observers of trade and development policy would doubt that Washington has carried on a drive to enrich U.S. corporations, usually at the expense of the poor.

"It is clear, however, that the Bush administration's attitude toward globalization differs substantially from former President Bill Clinton's. In contrast to Clinton's support of multilateral negotiations, Bush's stance is as a nationalist. This idea should surprise no one after the preemptive war in Iraq."

Without endorsement or further comment: Bush Body Count.

Be at peace.

Credibility Gap? - -

Does this sound at all familiar? The IAEA says there's "no evidence so far" that Iran presently has a nuclear weapons program. Paul Bolton, State's weapons proliferation chief, says that's "impossible to believe."

Be at peace.

Yo! Go, Mo! - -

Hee, heeeee! NYT's Maureen Dowd chases The Dick with a knife this morning. Excerpt:

"Mr. Cheney's parallel universe is a Bizarro world where no doubts exist. He indulges in extremes of judgment, overpessimistic about our ability to contain Saddam and overoptimistic about the gratitude we would encounter as 'liberators' in Iraq."

Be at peace.

More Foxes in the Hen House - -

The Oakland Tribune reports that the US DOE is about to go supersecret. Excerpts:

"The National Nuclear Security Administration said it soon will be free to treat congressionally mandated studies of its billion-dollar Big Science projects as 'internal matters.'"

"'Imagine the Department of Defense having committees of defense contractors advising it on what weapons systems to buy. Now they can do all this in secret," [Christopher] Paine [senior nuclear-weapons analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council] said. "What this gives them is the ability to put together committees tailored to produce a certain result and then announce that an 'independent committee' of employees of the University of California has blessed this particular project.'" [Paine also notes the decrease in oversight and accountability under the new rule.]

Be at peace.

November 12, 2003

It's STILL the Economy, Stupid! - -

The "Far Right's" nearly total capture of all three components of the Federal Government has illuminated glaringly its unified vision and plan for the future of the planet. The War in Iraq is really just a small piece of the whole. Even as I write, The Cheney Gang meets to decide how to abandon the venture so that it won't lose the '04 election. Believe me, it is just this sort of context in which Cheney, Rove, and the rest of 'em do their best work. The spin created will undoubtedly be centrifugal in nature.

The supreme spread of free-market capitalism is the Grand Prize. When a tool for this purpose (such as the Iraq occupation) outlives its usefulness, it is returned to the shop. In The Gang's eyes, the "Mission Accomplished" banner was right on: Saddam was in the way of USX oil profits, now he's in hiding; the oil has been seized; the tanking fortunes of several corporations have been restabilized with billions of "rebuilding" pass-through dollars; the federal deficit is sufficiently large to ensure that federal spending on just about everything will disappear; privatization and militarization proceed steadily; and the filthy rich just keep getting filthier.

Frankly, I think these folks are now in a position where it doesn't really matter who lives in the White House beginning in 2005. The Cheney Gang's goal is to make government irrelevant. Even if a Dumbopublican wins in '04, the tidal waves will still hit the beach relentlessly.

That is why a truly progressive force must gather. And that force must be as relentless as the forces of corporatism. There is much to be learned.

We will be singularly unsuccessful if we try to revive and refurbish (spin?) old ideas. Whether or not the formulae of communism, socialism, and other known alternatives to capitalism have been "discredited", they simply won't play in Peoria. Some smart folks, however, are making the argument that (a) capitalism is not a static economic system and (b) if it is not developed in a different direction, it will cause irreparable damage to society.

Michael Albert, writing in ZNet, is one of these people. In this piece, he discusses the concept of "Participatory Economics (Parecon)". I like it. Enjoy.

Be at peace.

Kucinich Watch - -

Got this email yesterday from my Kucinich network. I'm just gonna print most of it here, OK?:


While some pundits have tried to write Dennis Kucinich out of the presidential race, he keeps gaining grassroots support and the support of celebrities. This week has brought a host of new endorsements:

Tim Reynolds of the Dave Matthews Band, Ani DiFranco, and Michelle Shocked have joined a list of musicians endorsing Dennis Kucinich that already includes Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and many others.

Joaquin Phoenix, Shelley Morrison, and Staceyann Chin have joined a list of actors and performers endorsing Kucinich that already includes Danny Glover, Ed Asner, James Cromwell, Mimi Kennedy, Hector Elizondo, Roy Scheider, Elliot Gould, and many others.

Wendell Berry, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, and Michael Males have joined a list of authors endorsing Kucinich that already includes Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, Barbara Ehrenreich, and many others. Berry also joins a growing list of leading environmentalists backing Dennis.

Ambassador John W. McDonald, longtime U.S. and international diplomat, has also thrown his support behind Kucinich. Ambassador McDonald is scheduled to speak at a Kucinich event in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 11. A fuller list of Kucinich endorsers is available here.

On Nov. 21, Kucinich endorser Barbara Ehrenreich will lead a fundraising event with Dennis Kucinich in New York City. Make plans to see Dennis there now. [You'll need the PDF reader for that link]


African Americans are organizing for Kucinich and have created a new webpage.


If you are a musician who wants to support the campaign, log in to the Musicians for Kucinich forum on the National Discussion Board, meet our new coordinator for the musical community, Moriah-Melin Whoolilurie, and tell her how you would like to participate.


Dennis has been drawing crowds up and down the West Coast the past few days. You can read the news here and catch up on Dennis's schedule here.


Former Howard Dean supporters upset over his reversal of position on using public finance have already begun moving their support to Dennis Kucinich's campaign. Their comments are being posted.


Dennis Kucinich supports legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana has graded the candidates' positions and given only Kucinich an A+. Read more here.


Slate has created a game that is more entertaining than most political coverage but also quite useful because it lets you pick a candidate based on his or her positions. Try it. Now if the folks at Slate could just read a transcript of the Phoenix debate and learn that Dean supported the $87 billion for Iraq, this game would really be good!

Be at peace.

November 11, 2003

A Most UnCivil War - -

You know something is happening here
But you don't know what it is . . .
Do you, Mr. Jones?
-from Ballad of a Thin Man
Bob Dylan

By the evening of September 11, 2001 I was filled with dread. Although I was saddened and alarmed by the attacks that morning, I felt distant and fairly safe from terrorists. It occurred to me that, all things being equal, the thoughtless, aggressive drivers on the streets around my office were a greater threat. The previous day I had nearly been run over by a woman in an SUV exiting a parking lot at thirty miles an hour without looking in my direction. On a daily basis, I felt more vulnerable to the virulence of cultural selfishness and violence that seemed to grip more and more of my fellow Americans. The events of that morning did not refocus my fear toward a foreign threat. The dread I felt was a grim foreboding of how we as a nation would react to the indignity.

Because of influences and experiences I have described elsewhere*, I have always been aware of the chasm between the Great American Dream/Myth and the reality it pretends to mask. Long convinced that an event as cataclysmic as those morning attacks was inevitable, I was equally certain that those who held the mask would pull it tighter, repaint its cracking gilt, then armor it.

To those installed (questionably) as authoritative decision-makers in our government, the response was instantaneous, decidedly unmeasured, and swift. Taking a page right out of Goering, they declared War. Unfortunately, they succeeded in declaring War not only against al-Qaida (a relatively small organization of religious zealots funded by a very rich man who had perpetrated this and several other similar attacks during the previous twenty years), but also against several nations of uncertain linkage and a sizeable part of the American citizenry. In the bargain, they managed to alienate other governments and peoples, friend and foe alike.

There were those of us who cried out for caution and prudence. Condoning neither terror nor reckless response against it, we suggested a strengthening of our defenses and an examination of our own possible contribution to the rising tide of distrust and resentment toward us. We were at best ignored, at worst vilified as traitors. It was simple - "someone must pay!" And so we are paying - with dollars, with lives, with fear. We are impoverishing ourselves and future generations to fight a war in which victory is just impossible. And we are no safer.

A popular Western leader, at the start of World War II, proclaimed at the time that fear was what we most had to fear. The Bush Administration has done little but exploit and capitalize on fear. It appears to value fear as a precious commodity. It has declared War on common sense, charity, honest introspection, truth, justice, democracy, key sections of our Constitution, and freedom itself. What we as Americans are forced to support is a sort of "road rage writ large". There is evidence that our careening adventure will require more: more human fuel as Washington explores a reinstitution of the draft; more paranoia as legislation limiting rights, privacy, and freedom slinks through Congress under-opposed; more money as "neoconservatives" clear away the last vestiges of the welfare state and mortgage our lives to the corporate state.

This humble writer is constitutionally incapable of a dispassionate analysis of our current plight. Let us, however, for the moment give President Bush, his advisors, and loyal followers the benefit of the doubt. Many people during the past twenty-six months have attributed to these officials adjectives ranging from "stupid" to "the Anti-Christ". I number myself among them. Although it is very difficult, let us imagine that their motives are righteous - that they see a terrible threat to life and liberty and think that years of concerted military action and diminishing freedom is the only way to save our country. If they are right, think what that will mean to every living thing on this planet. I am in my fifties; I have struggled much of my life; I doubt I could endure such a prospect.

Others have suggested that our president feels that he is called by his god to lead us to Rapture and Armageddon. All I can say to that is, "How terminally arrogant or desperately sick!" If either is true, this man needs incarceration and/or antipsychotic medication, and we're all in deep doo-doo until he gets them.

Regardless of his religious proclivities, it is most likely that this president - like several before him - is the agent of a coalition of men and women of enormous wealth and power who want more of the same. Some of these people are probably altruistic to some degree; others are decidedly not. All of them, however, are intellectual and emotional slaves to a view of humanity and its host planet that is narrow, desolate, and utterly devoid of imagination: in a word - inhuman.

Reflect on the implication: this president and his people may have no faith that in a nation which has distinguished itself for its innovation, creativity, collective courage, compassion, vision, and leadership we can find no one to guide us constructively, rationally, and peacefully through these dire times. If such are not to be found and elevated, then surely we are not the great nation we purport to be. Our intellectual, moral, and spiritual poverty is laid bare to the world. We are a nation at War, but the stark truth is that we are at War with ourselves.

So far, we have defined the War within our nation as a struggle between Right and Left. Perhaps that is, as a starting point, for the good, since it does focus and polarize the main principles. But regardless of where we might find ourselves on the spectrum of political alliance and preference, we must fight this War ruthlessly in such a way that all except the fundamentally evil may taste true victory and peace. What an opportunity! And what an enormous task!

The way truly forward , I believe, is well marked with many signs that say, "We must . . ."

We must craft a coalition to elect a new government in 2004, but that must be the barest beginning.

We must realize that the next government will only be a step back from the slaughter. Without a deep examination of our own contribution to this predicament, we will in short order find ourselves in an even darker place. The roots and vines of this choking weed run deep and range far.

We must systematically withdraw our military from foreign lands, even those to which we have been "invited", except where our presence is part of a wise and legal coalition of many nations. We must replace strategic alliances with moral alliances, abandoning corrupted, brutal governments, throttling down our mostly indiscriminate distribution of the instruments of death.

At the same time, we must fulfill our commitment to protect our own citizens on our own ground. We must match the courage and sacrifice of our military people with all the support we can muster. We also must ensure that when they fight, kill, die, and sustain wounds, they do so for the cause of freedom, not corporate profits. We must rein in the military-industrial monster. And we must recommit to international law.

We must hold corporations, their leaders, their employees, their stakeholders to fiscal, social, and moral accountability. We must have the vision and courage to expel and disown business ventures that take without giving back. We must discover models and incentives to create a common wealth from open cooperation, rather than from stealthy competition.

We must hold tightly every elected official to the precious law that he/she is our servant. We must revive old ways, and devise new ways, to guarantee that our government cannot be sold to the highest bidders. We must see that it is not "big government" or "small government", but good government that is necessary.

We must abandon the notion that governmental secrecy is "in the national interest." It is not. Our cherished organs of secrecy have at best been porous and at worst have tried to hide from us the many idiotic follies anunforgivablele sins of many of our governments. We certainly have not prevented the proliferation of terrible weapons throughout the world. In fact, our "intelligence community" has tried to prevent us from knowing that we have been the source of much of that proliferation. We must insist on truth and openness. We can handle the truth - we must handle it.

We must grasp democracy as if we were about to lose it. We are. We must turn our eyes from "Bread and Circus" and actively, constantly participate in the essence of democracy: self-government. We will find so many things to do in addition to voting. We must revive an educational context in which we learn to be effective social beings, rather than "resources" for production and consumption. Economy must serve us - rather than we serving it.

We must convene the best minds we can find in economics, education, science, organization, creativity, public service, communication, and spiritual thought and put them hard at work to find true and lasting solutions.

We must each of us take personal responsibility for our country. Anyone who thinks they are "apolitical" are just in denial. For that matter, perhaps we are all in denial, to some degree, of how much danger we are in.

We can win this War. We must.

*see "In Search of a Nation's Soul", published in ddjangoWIrE on 10/14/2003

© 2003, Ted Donlan

Be at peace.

November 10, 2003


Apparently there were some problems with posts over the past 24 hours, and most of what I wrote got corrupted. Either that or it got hacked. I doubt it - I ain't that important.

I'm in the process of completing the next ddjangoWIrE essay, "A Most Uncivil War," which I hope to post tomorrow morning. So, with a tear in my eye, I'm gonna disappear 'til then.

Be at peace.

November 09, 2003

Hmmm . . . Kinda Drafty in Here? - -

This from yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Excerpt (emphasis mine):

"The Defense Department fueled the debate this week when it placed a notice on its Web site asking for 'men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board.'

"The Pentagon wouldn't comment on the notice, and by yesterday it had been pulled from the Web site without explanation."

Do you need an explanation? I don't. Shortest trial ballon flight in recent history. Rove probably hit it with an RPG.

Surest way to end this puppy is to reinstitute the draft. Bring it on, Doubleduh!

November 08, 2003

The Right: In Control or Out of Control? - -

This David Morris AlterNet piece - "Shock Troops of the Right Wing" - illustrates the lengths The Cheney Gang has gone to so far . . . and asks, "What's next?" Excerpt:

"These are heady times for the right. In quick succession they have demonstrated their ability to censor movies they oppose, prevent implementation of court decisions they resist, even halt the construction of a building that would house an organization they dislike."

Molly Ivans, also writing for AlterNet, takes it one step further in her piece "Remembering Reagan." Excerpt (the link to Josh Marshall's TPM is something I put there):

"The excellent blogger and journalist Josh Marshall, in a column for The Hill, points out that it may be true no member of the administration ever used the words threat and imminent in conjunction. True, when asked if Iraq were an imminent threat, various spokesmen really did say, 'Yes,' with varying degrees of emphasis. They said the threat was 'mortal,' that it was 'urgent,' that there was 'clear evidence of peril.' They said that we could not wait BUT, they did not say 'imminent threat.' That sure as hell reassures me that we we're not dealing with delusional leaders. Now why exactly did they tell us we were going to war?"

Well, anyway, I guess if you're "right", that trumps everything - even International Law. The Cheney Gang is guilty of a growing string of transgressions, including the attempt to establish "Iraq, Inc." Naomi Klein of The Guardian, writing for ZNet, points out some problems with the Halliburton/Bechtel/etc. hostile takeover attempt. Excerpt:

"The Hague regulations state that an occupying power must respect 'unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country'. The coalition provisional authority has shredded that simple rule with gleeful defiance.

"Iraq's constitution outlaws the privatisation of key state assets, and it bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms. No plausible argument can be made that the CPA was 'absolutely prevented' from respecting those laws, and yet two months ago, the CPA overturned them unilaterally."

What I Have to Say About George W. Bush, Blood-thirsty Christians,Homophobes & People Who Don't Use Their Blinkers, by Thom Rutledge. Hey, either read this or stay stupid!! (See how THAT feels?)

Oh, yeah . . . and the "Reagan Legacy"? You eatin' the sucker, Jack!

Be at peace.

I am sincerely sorry, but I just can't pass this up. Herr Dokter Dean jus' made MY day.

Be at peace.

November 06, 2003

This from the latest Harper's Weekly Review:

"A new study from the Center for Public Integrity revealed that the 70 companies that have benefited the most from $8 billion in government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan collectively contributed more than $500,000 to President Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Congressional negotiators stripped a measure criminalizing war profiteering from the final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq."

The Center for Public Integrity has this list of warsuckers.

Be at peace.

November 05, 2003

Singing the Truth - -

Even my apolitical friend Jim will appreciate the "Tell Us the Truth Tour." To tell you the truth, I don't know who any of these rockers are (I got off the musical carousel about when Paul Butterfield died), but I have a feeling that the names Billy Bragg, Lester Chambers, Steve Earle, The Nightwatchman, and Boots Riley might turn of summa yawl on. The tour starts in the Peoples Republic of Madison on 11/7 and rocks all over the place on route to DC on 11/24. They have a great website - stick around during the intro.

Once again, IPS's Peyman Pejman describes how The Cheney Gang's decisions in and about Iraq have put everyone in jeopardy. As my regular readers know, however, I'm not convinced that any of these decisions have been "mistakes". This is a war for corporate profits. The way Rummy and Doubleduh inflect the issue of casualities says to me that dead Americans and Iraqis are, in the Gang's mind, just a "calculated cost of doing business". And the casualties aren't costing their friends anything. Consider the fact that the investments made by DynCorp, Halliburton/KBR, and the other profiteers have been minimal when compared to what young Americans and Iraqis and their families have paid - and you and I in our disappearing tax money. A great deal of that corporate investment was paid up front in campaign contributions.

Of course, there this . . . proving that Doubleduh don't even listen to his daddy.

Even I have much to learn. A website called Politics1 - which I'd never heard of - has a great page for Dennis Kucinich (as well as for other candidates). Very concise and inclusive.

Alternet prints a review of the Dumbopublican candidates for prez by WorkingforChange's Geov Parrish. Excerpt (emphasis added by me):

"Excepting Kucinich, who has raised hundreds of dollars to date, none of Dubya's would-be replacements is challenging the fundamental Bush premise that the U.S. intends and expects to call the shots in Iraq (literally) for a long time to come. None is addressing future specifics of how to help alleviate the dire status of U.S. soldiers, or the even more dire reality facing many ordinary Iraqis.

"Perhaps American politics can't support such detail; maybe it really is all about image and leadership and judgment and (especially) personality. But like it or not, George Bush has a clear plan for Iraq: loot it bare, shoot anything that moves, and eventually install puppets to oversee the survivors. It's grim, but it's simple and concrete."

Be at peace.

Amazing Grace! - -

In a poll currently being conducted by Army Times, there are some absolutely amazing results. Of respondents so far, Doubleduh gets only 33%; Wes Clark runs second with 22%; and Dennis Kucinich is third among all candidates with 16%.

Be at peace.

November 03, 2003

An editorial in today's Dar al hayat (Lebanon) underlines my comments yesterday about ignoring Iraqi casualties. Excerpt:

"If our lives were worthless, I hold the neo-conservatives entirely responsible for the blood of every American victim in Iraq ever since war started and right until today. Why would a young man from abroad die in Baghdad or anywhere else? What goal has he served? Who benefited from his death?"

The piece goes on, unfortunately, to put all the blame for our catastrophic middle east policies on the Israeli Likud Party. I believe that those who do this are really missing the point. This war and the future wars so eagerly anticipated by The Cheney Gang are about USX control of planetary resources. Period. Any talk about religion or freedom is propogandist smoke.

Perhaps this thoughtful WaPo op-ed piece by Yoel Esteron will help us look more realistically. Excerpt:

"The Bush administration, with its avid support of Israel, is also helping the Sharon government to sit on its hands and do nothing to promote a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


"But fury and despair are bad advisers. Without political dialogue and the creation of hope for the Palestinians' national aspirations, only bombs will talk."

- - Kucinich Watch - -

WaPo and The Concord (NH) Monitor are having a series of on-line "conversations with the candidates." Dennis Kucinich will be on-line tomorrow (Tuesday, 11/4).

Elsewhere in WaPo, Rummy waxes lame. As usual, on the problem of "reducing the creation of new terrorists", he asks rhetorical questions with his own built-in "solutions." Excerpt:

"Asked for the solution, he noted that with the dissolution of the United States Information Agency and its merger into the State Department, the country is "not organized, trained or equipped" to fight a war of ideas overseas. "What has to change in our country, organizationally, overt, covert, either one, so that we can have a higher confidence that we're reducing the number of people who [become terrorists]?" he asked."


"Saying the United States is not organized to handle the problem, Rumsfeld said, 'We need to find ways to make sure we're winning the battle of ideas and that we're reducing the number of terrorists . . . that are being taught to go out and murder and kill innocent men, women and children.'"

The problem, you twit, is that we're not gonna win some "war of ideas." And as long as we think and act like "it's our way or the highway," there are gonna be peoples that hate us. Even Chalabi knows that.

Finally, Linda McQuaig, in yesterday's Toronto Star, takes up the gauntlet in The War Against Cognitive Dissonance.

Be at peace.

Rummy's Throwaway Army - -

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made no secret of his desire to get the military out of support activities that are not central to its core war-fighting functions, said Joseph Tafoya, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity. As soon as he arrived at the Pentagon three years ago, Tafoya said, Rumsfeld began asking: 'Why am I running stores? Why am I in education?'”

Thankfully, more and more military personnel are waking up to realize what Secretary of War Rumsfeld is really about. First Stars and Stripes, now this one from Army Times.

I don't think the military is going to stand for this. I think what Rummy really wants is to make military service so unattractive that the ranks of "private" troops working for Wackenhut, Dyncorp, KBR, and the rest will swell. Remember, the goal of The Cheney Gang is to privatize everything. The less folks doing The Gang's dirty work as part of the government, the less government oversight.

We can just hope that the smarter young folks in the military will realize that they're not fighting either for freedom or to protect us from future terrorism. The Cheney Gang's agenda ensures only slavery and growth of terrorism.

Be at peace.

November 02, 2003

LEFT Is RIGHT links to an insightful article in today's Guardian Unlimited. The piece points out in more detail (but with less passion) than I have the utter bankruptcy of the antiwar effort. Excerpt:

"And yet the anti-war movement, whatever its stake on prescience, has proved a depressingly negative force, too. The populist spirit that politicised a generation and illuminated mass marches has curdled into pessimism and posturing."

War in Iraq has an interesting piece which, to my mind, illustrates that it is USX and The Cheney Gang, rather than the resistance, who are "desparate". The story also points out the strategic fragmentation of the occupation. This excerpt notes the changes, confusion, and "seat of the pants" decision-making that has characterized our every move since the attacks in September, 2001:

"The talks are at an early stage and do not represent an actual plan. At a news conference in Baghdad on Saturday, the American administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, spoke merely of the need to welcome back former members of the Iraqi Army into the small replacement army now being formed.

But the talks tacitly acknowledge that some officers view Mr. Bremer's decision to dismantle the defeated 500,000-member Iraqi Army as a mistake, one that has contributed to the instability and increasing attacks against United States forces in Iraq."

It is terrible that we lost another twenty or so young Americans in this criminal war today. But I can no longer countenance the ignoring of the thousands of Iraqi deaths and injuries. Every human being killed or hurt is a part of the human soul ripped asunder.

Finally - I notice that some lefty blogs are trying to walk the line that's drawn by consideration of or actually accepting advertising money. So that there will be no doubt about this blog, I have posted the following notice on my sidebar:

ddjangoWIrE is and will continue to be free from paid advertising. Links to and from ddjangoWIrE and other sources of news, information, and opinion are provided without remuneration. ddjangoWIrE is not for sale.

Be at peace.