December 30, 2003

Another Soldier in the War Against Cognitive Dissonance

Renana Brooks in The Nation - "The Character Myth". Excerpts:

Psychologists have long understood that people who hold views that are mutually inconsistent, or who perform actions that depart from their values or that threaten their positive self-image, will experience discomfort. This is known as cognitive dissonance. People naturally choose to remove the discomfort through rationalization, thus repairing their self-image as people who are reasonable and moral and act in ways consistent with their values. Bush's leadership style and use of language essentially have created cognitive dissonance in the electorate. The more that Americans observe the Bush presidency pushing policies they do not support, and would normally question, the more they confront the choice of whether to oppose him actively or rationalize away their discomfort. Many Americans have chosen the latter because the President has convinced them that the situation is desperate and that only he can handle the continuing crisis. The more they depend upon Bush, the more they rationalize away any objections they may have to his specific ideas and policies. In this manner, Bush has forged an emotional, visceral relationship with the nation, successfully bypassing conscious resistance and stripping away any sense that he needs to answer to a higher legal or constitutional authority beyond his personal moral force . . .

While many Americans feel reassured by the appearance of moral dominance, other nations, even friendly ones, do not find the President's stance reassuring. Non-Westerners tend to view dominance as imperialism. Many nations perceive the President's authoritarian imagery and mythology and are impelled to find ways to fight against American dominance. Because the world already fears US power, other nations are not comforted by Bush's leadership style. They feel only repugnance and fear. Left unchallenged, the character myth could potentially win George W. Bush four more years, but it will cost his nation dearly over a far longer period of time--perhaps stiffening resistance to American hegemony enough to end our current run of dominance . . .

To be truly effective to the broader public, the Democratic candidates must present their own vivid, descriptive depiction of how they can make America safe, not merely dominant. Just as George H.W. Bush called for a New World Order and Truman had the Marshall Plan, the Democratic candidate should enunciate a new vision of a safe and secure world. He or she should show how a collaborative world is really safer than a dominating one. This is the prescription for success in 2004.

Be at peace.

I've decided I'm not gonna let go of this martial law thing. You wanna do the latest version of "it can't happen here", that's cool . . . just don't read this stuff, aaiight?

Sydney Morning Herald, July '02, "Foundations are in place for martial law in the US." Excerpt:

FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest.

From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. Details of these plans emerged during the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal.

They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA.

A Miami Herald article on July 5, 1987, reported that the former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. The plan was said to be similar to one Mr Giuffrida had developed earlier to combat "a national uprising by black militants". It provided for the detention "of at least 21million American Negroes"' in "assembly centres or relocation camps".

South Jersey News, March '03, "Red alert? Stay home, await word." Clip:

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says . . .

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

Pravda, May '02, "U.S. Plans for Martial Law, Tele-Governance, Suspension of Elections." Clip:

The U.S. government has used martial law on numerous occasions, most often to quell domestic disturbances in specific locations around the country. According to the United States Constitution Online, during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson imposed martial law in an area of New Orleans. When a judge demanded Jackson produce, through the writ of habeas corpus, a man arrested for sedition, Jackson ordered the arrest of the judge. in 1892 at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, rebellious mine workers blew up a mill and shot at strike breaking workers. Mine owners requested that the state's governor impose martial law and, to no surprise, he did. In 1914, federal troops were ordered by Woodrow Wilson to end the Coal Field Wars in Colorado. In 1934, dockworkers in San Francisco initiated a strike and the governor declared the dockyards subject to martial law empowering the National Guard to make arrests and try detainees. The Supreme Court opined twice on matters involving martial law in Ex Parte Milligan and Duncan v. Kahanamoku. In 1866, Milligan's Supreme Court writers proclaimed that Abraham Lincoln's imposition of martial law had been unconstitutional:

"Martial law destroys every guarantee of the Constitution and effectually renders the military independent of an superior to the civil power - the attempt to do which by the King of Great Britain was deemed by our fathers such an offense that they assigned it to the world as one of the causes which impelled them to declare their independence. Civil liberty and this kind of martial law cannot endure together; the antagonism is irreconcilable, and, in the conflict, one or the other must perish" . . .

James Madison had in right in 1794 when he wisely warned about "the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the government." The United States was founded by political sages like Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin. It will ultimately see its demise as a democracy through the likes of Bush II, his father, and the Trent Lotts and Dick Armeys that pervade the American body politic.

Print and keep this one - it's The Common Sense Survival Guides bit on the subject. A small chunk:

Executive Order 12656: "ASSIGNMENT OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS RESPONSIBILITIES", "A national emergency is any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States. Policy for national security emergency preparedness shall be established by the President." This order includes federal takeover of all local law enforcement agencies, wage and price controls, prohibits you from moving assets in or out of the United States, creates a draft, controls all travel in and out of the United States, and much more.

Still with me? This next one is a "memo" that originated with and which I found at SurvivalistSkills. A slice:

While no federal statutes appear to define martial law, one section of the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR") -- 32 CFR 501.4(80) -- makes four points about martial law:

First, federal troops are normally deployed domestically without a declaration of martial law.(81) "It is unlikely that situations requiring the commitment of Federal Armed Forces will necessitate the declaration of martial law."

Second, the "law of necessity" undergirds the implementation of martial law. "When Federal Armed Forces are committed in the event of civil disturbances, their proper role is to support, not supplant, civil authority. Martial law depends for its justification upon public necessity. Necessity gives rise to its creation; necessity justifies its exercise; and necessity limits its duration. The extent of the military force used and the actual measures taken, consequently, will depend upon the actual threat to order and public safety which exists at the time."

Third, declarations of martial law are not limited to the President. "In most instances the decision to impose martial law is made by the President, who normally announces his decision by a proclamation, which usually contains his instructions concerning its exercise and any limitations thereon. However, the decision to impose martial law may be made by the local commander on the spot, if the circumstances demand immediate action, and time and available communications facilities do not permit obtaining prior approval from higher authority (Sec. 501.2). Whether or not a proclamation exists, it is incumbent upon commanders concerned to weigh every proposed action against the threat to public order and safety it is designed to meet, in order that the necessity therefor may be ascertained."

Fourth, the rules of conduct for citizens are merely announced by the military and are immediately effective. "When Federal Armed Forces have been committed in an objective area in a martial law situation, the population of the affected area will be informed of the rules of conduct and other restrictive measures the military is authorized to enforce. These will normally be announced by proclamation or order and will be given the widest possible publicity by all available media. Federal Armed Forces ordinarily will exercise police powers previously inoperative in the affected area, restore and maintain order, insure the essential mechanics of distribution, transportation, and communication, and initiate necessary relief measures.

Think Eric Rudolph knew anything about Mount Weather?

Be at peace.

December 29, 2003

The War Against Cognitive Dissidence - Battle 212

Smoke and mirrors department . . . "Jobless 'recovery' is worse than you think: Count of unemployed skips millions" by David Streitfeld (LA Times bwo The Smirking Chimp) - excerpts:

To begin with, there are the 8.7 million unemployed, defined as those without a job who are actively looking for work. But lurking behind that group are 4.9 million part-time workers such as Gluskin who say they would rather be working full time - the highest number in a decade.

There are also the 1.5 million people who want a job but didn't look for one in the last month. Nearly a third of this group say they stopped the search because they were too depressed about the prospect of finding anything. Officially termed "discouraged," their number has surged 20% in a year.

Add these three groups together and the jobless total for the U.S. hits 9.7%, up from 9.4% a year ago.
I'm trying to remember the last time the real unemployment rate was 10%. Reagan?

Prisoners of war department . . . "Army Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting - Orders Extend Enlistments to Curtail Troop Shortages" in WaPo this morning by Lee Hockstader. Excerpts:

To the Pentagon, stop-loss orders are a finger in the dike -- a tool to halt the hemorrhage of personnel, and maximize cohesion and experience, for units in the field in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Through a series of stop-loss orders, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers, about 16,000 of them National Guard and reserve members who were eligible to leave the service this year. Hundreds more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were briefly blocked from retiring or departing the military at some point this year.

By prohibiting soldiers and officers from leaving the service at retirement or the expiration of their contracts, military leaders have breached the Army's manpower limit of 480,000 troops, a ceiling set by Congress. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, disclosed that the number of active-duty soldiers has crept over the congressionally authorized maximum by 20,000 and now registered 500,000 as a result of stop-loss orders. Several lawmakers questioned the legality of exceeding the limit by so much . . .

"An enlistment contract has two parties, yet only the government is allowed to violate the contract; I am not," said Costas, 42, who signed an e-mail from Iraq this month "Chained in Iraq," an allusion to the fact that he and his fellow reservists remained in Baghdad after the active-duty unit into which they were transferred last spring went home. He has now been told that he will be home late next June, more than a year after his contractual departure date. "Unfair. I would not say it's a draft per se, but it's clearly a breach of contract. I will not reenlist."

Thanks to uggabugga for the lead to "The Bubble of American Supremacy" by George Soros in The Atlantic. Excerpts:

It is generally agreed that September 11, 2001, changed the course of history. But we must ask ourselves why that should be so. How could a single event, even one involving 3,000 civilian casualties, have such a far-reaching effect? The answer lies not so much in the event itself as in the way the United States, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, responded to it.

Admittedly, the terrorist attack was historic in its own right. Hijacking fully fueled airliners and using them as suicide bombs was an audacious idea, and its execution could not have been more spectacular. The destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center made a symbolic statement that reverberated around the world, and the fact that people could watch the event on their television sets endowed it with an emotional impact that no terrorist act had ever achieved before. The aim of terrorism is to terrorize, and the attack of September 11 fully accomplished this objective . . .

The supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. The supremacist ideology postulates that just because we are stronger than others, we know better and have right on our side. The very first sentence of the September 2002 National Security Strategy (the President's annual laying out to Congress of the country's security objectives) reads, "The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom - and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise."

The assumptions behind this statement are false on two counts. First, there is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the American model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to others, because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and we are not willing to yield it.
Note well that The Cheney Gang's plan to solidify its power now includes a pointed attack on Soros, who is helping to bankroll the opposition campaign.

You can buy George's book through my Amazon store.

Riverbend writes in Baghdad Burning:

Friday, December 26, 2003

Christmas in Baghdad...

Explosions and bombing almost all day yesterday and deep into the night. At some points it gets hard to tell who is bombing who? Resistance or Americans? Tanks or mortars? Cluster bombs or IEDs? Nothing on the news - to see the reports on CNN, Abu Dhabi, and Al-Arabia you'd think there was nothing going on in Baghdad beyond the usual thumps and thuds. Yesterday was *very* unusual. Embassies, mines, residential areas and the Green Zone - and the sirens. I hate the sirens. I can stand the explosions, the rattling windows, the slamming doors, the planes, the helicopters - but I feel like my heart is wailing when I hear the sirens.

The explosions haven't really put anyone in a very festive spirit. The highlight of the last few days, for me, was when we went to our Christian friends' home to keep them company on Christmas Eve. We live in a neighborhood with a number of Christian families and, under normal circumstances, the area would be quite festive this time of year- little plastic Santas on green lawns, an occasional plastic wreath on a door and some colored, blinking lights on trees.

Be at peace.

Gosh 'n' Golly! I Can't Imagine Why!!

From this mornin's NYT comes this astonishing story. Excerpts:

Effort to Promote U.S. Falls Short, Critics Say

The government's public-relations drive to build a favorable impression abroad — particularly among Muslim nations — is a shambles, according to Republican and Democratic lawmakers, State Department officials and independent experts. They say the effort, known as public diplomacy, lacks direction and is starved of cash and personnel . . .

A senior State Department official, who is active in public diplomacy, says he starts his day pondering the antipathy to the United States.

"Why, in Jordan, do people think Osama bin Laden is a better leader than George Bush?" he asked. "It's not just Arabs who are angry with the United States. It's worldwide."
As you read the rest of the article, look for the part that talks about the fact that this administration has no credibility because it never tells the truth. Oh, can't find that part? Hmmmmmmm . . . well, consider the source. Why doesn't it occur to these folks that PR IS PR and that the rest of the world just ain't buyin' the bu***hit???

Be at peace.

Not long ago, I posted a few things about the first rumblings of a "martial law" scenario. The only response I got was a (not unwelcome) note from Bob Manis about my spelling (marshal . . . martial . . . there's a difference?). Well, so, OK, I get no resPECT, ovah heah. But maybe DIS guy might getcha to LISTEN UP, aaiight? Kurt Nimmo, writing in Dissident Voice:

Bush's fraudulent terror alerts endeavor to convince America that "sufficient threat" exists to such a perilous degree from a largely mythical al-Qaeda that not only is "covert disruption" necessary -- as the FBI memorandum sent to local law enforcement alludes -- but a wholesale decimation of the Bill of Rights is also in order. PATROIT II -- with its specification that troublemakers shall be deported -- wasn't craft on a whim by legal clerks with nothing better to do at the Justice Department. It will be enacted and used in due time.

Sooner or later there will need be a real "terrorist event" in America, lest Bush earn the same reputation as Aesop's wily sheep herder who cried wolf. No telling when exactly, but chances are it will go down late next summer, about the time usually obeisant Democrats get desperate about the idea of taking back the White House, not they actually stand a snowball's chance in hell of doing so.

Gen. Tommy Franks was not talking through his helmet -- these guys actually believe democracy is a "grand experiment" that has exceed its shelf life. So stay tuned for a "casualty-producing event... 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."

Martial law is rarely kind to dissenters.

Be at peace.

December 28, 2003

- - . . . and we didn't even know what hit us . . . - -

A Christmas present from Doubleduh - "WITH A WHISPER, NOT A BANG" By David Martin, San Antonio Current. Excerpt:

The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government. The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of "financial institution," which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters."

Congress passed the legislation around Thanksgiving. Except for U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez, all San Antonio's House members voted for the act. The Senate passed it with a voice vote to avoid individual accountability. While broadening the definition of "financial institution," the Bush administration is ramping up provisions within the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which granted the FBI the authority to obtain client records from banks by merely requesting the records in a "National Security Letter." To get the records, the FBI doesn't have to appear before a judge, nor demonstrate "probable cause" - reason to believe that the targeted client is involved in criminal or terrorist activity. Moreover, the National Security Letters are attached with a gag order, preventing any financial institution from informing its clients that their records have been surrendered to the FBI. If a financial institution breaches the gag order, it faces criminal penalties. And finally, the FBI will no longer be required to report to Congress how often they have used the National Security Letters.
Thanks, Santa!!

And another present - "Iraq spending decisions made in private - Funding process has little openness, despite regulations" by Jackie Spinner and Ariana Eunjung Cha, WaPo/MSNBC. Excerpt:

Of the billions of dollars appropriated or promised for the largest nation-building project since World War II, the Iraqi money doled out by Bremer and the Program Review Board is the least visible. Spending of the $18.6 billion the U.S. Congress approved this fall for Iraqi reconstruction will be overseen by an office run by a retired U.S. admiral. The $13 billion pledged from other countries will be monitored by an Iraqi-run oversight board . . .

Despite detailed regulations and pronouncements about "transparency," the Coalition Provisional Authority's process for spending Iraq's money has little of the openness, debate and paper trails that define such groups in democratic nations. Though the interim government has extensive information on its Web site, it doesn't include, for example, when contracts have been awarded. Citing security concerns, it also doesn't say what companies won them.

Axis of Logic's Manuel Valenzuela writes in "The Exploitation of the American Soldier: Part I of II: Of Caste Drafts and Society's Complicity", in part:

The American Soldier is being used and abused, like so many others before, for cynical purposes. Expendable they are to the oligarchy, both in mind and body. Burned, scarred, brain damaged, amputated and torn open by hot molten shrapnel our soldiers return, dead or wounded, becoming invisible symbols of the horrors of war and of the exploitation a few lunatics at the top subject them to. Mentally stressed, exhausted, damaged and psychologically shredded our men and women become, unable to heal the perpetual scars of battle that will linger in their minds the rest of their lives . . .

The ultimate sacrifice is being paid for reasons that few comprehend, in circumstances that yearn to be understood and for a reality that is hard to believe and accept. The excuses have been many, and many have been impeachable lies and shams. Freedom and democracy are but the latest, found at the bottom of the barrel by Bush, in a last act of desperation, being the hardest to implement, therefore the hardest to prove wrong and question. Now our soldiers are made to believe these audacious deceits, when in fact they die and suffer for much more sinister motives.

I needed to find some hope, and Geov Parrish does provide a slim bit, in "Peace on Earth: The Prospects" on AlterNet. Excerpts:

Remember those quaint, nostalgic times when this season was associated with the phrase “Peace On Earth”? That is, way back in the days before our born-again leader with the proclaimed personal ear of God started ordering up wars the way other politicians ask for planning studies? Before our nation became so drunken with manufactured bogeymen and antiseptic media invasions and patriotic warmongering fever that war’s unpleasantness made it something people wished absolutely to avoid? When peace was considered a good thing, not the way of cowards?

I miss those days. A lot of us do . . .

All told, the U.S. military is now active in some 60 countries around the world. The dozen or so examples above are among the most egregious – and what is the U.S. doing killing people in even a dozen countries? – but they have several factors in common: (1) No war has been declared against any government in any of them. (2) They are not on the same continent as the United States. (3) All target poor countries’ civilian populations. (4) In few of these cases have serious attempts been undertaken, especially by the U.S. government, to find a just and peaceful resolution to the situation. (5) Most Americans know very little about any of them, as national corporate reporting is generally either uncritical or, more commonly, nonexistent. The exception is Iraq, where the “factual” reporting is so markedly different from that in Britain and Europe that it might as well be describing a different conflict.

Does that feel like an overwhelming list? Here’s a useful counterweight:

This past year, on one day, tens of millions of ordinary people on every continent and in scores of countries gathered together, in national capitals and town squares, and demanded peace. Not asked for, not petitioned for, or recommended or begged. We demanded it.

Be at peace . . . and that's an order!

December 25, 2003

So this blog is so fuckin kewl.

Whew . . . er, sorry!

Tom Feeley's thoughtful ICH essay discussing some spiritual aspects of progressivism - Who Really Rules This World - is an impressive piece. Excerpt:

What if it were possible to find the root of all problems? Is there a single factor, which effects all men's actions and are at the core of his decisions. I think so!

Others have mentioned the part played by religion in world history and the devastation and death it has bestowed on all those who disagreed with its particular principals. There is little doubt that religion as it is practiced by most faiths is an impediment to all who search for God. There is however a great difference between living a spiritual life and following a religion . . .

We spend our lives in servitude to "self" forever trying to satisfy its needs and desires. We buy a house and soon we wish it were a bigger house or in a different neighborhood. We get a job and soon we need a better job. We get money and find we need more money. Our efforts appear to satisfy our selves for just a little time and then we hear its cries again, for the ego or "self" is impossible to satisfy.

To put it more succinctly self is our God. Self has become so powerful in our modern world that it runs riot in our personal, political and even in our religious lives. Yes, "self" has made all religions obedient to its desires. For example, whom do you pray for? You're "self". We include others in our prayers but mostly the are concerned with requests to God for stuff for our-"selves".

Let me make this point again. "Self" rules over all religions! All religions! We have made a God of "Self" and therefore placed all our religious practices under control of "self". When "self" demands that we behave contrary to the teaching of our religions, it is a simple matter for our ego to rationalize our behavior and cloak it as "It is the will of God" or "God bless America", as we step on the rights and broken bodies of other people in our rampant desire to satisfy our "self-ish" need for power, prestige and security. Self is real. It is dangerous, and it is a God who rules over our world. Some may even call it Satan.
This is the stuff we must think about if we want to take care of each other and our home and all its crumbling beauty.

Finally, Geov Parrish, writing in Seattle Weekly, has a good piece on Howard Dean - "Ace in the Hole". Excerpts:

HOWARD DEAN WAS right, and his Democratic presidential opponents were crassly wrong for criticizing him, when he said that the capture of Saddam Hussein won't make America safer.

Dean was the spoiler of the party punch on Sunday, Dec. 14, and bully for him. Imagine any leading Democrat questioning Our Fearless Leader a year ago at such a moment of administration glory. They would have been lining up obsequiously, praising not only Saddam's capture but the policies that led to it . . .

THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY now has a procedure in place for international trials of war criminals like Saddam. The United States, under Presidents Clinton and Bush, has refused to honor it, concerned that a truly impartial process might target American foreign policy and its leaders.

It's easy to understand why. "The American Century" was also, not coincidentally, the bloodiest century in human history. Among its genocidal names, most recently we have Slobodan Milosevic, whisked off to a show trial of the NATO variety. His defense - involvement with a tawdry list of American and European administrations, arms financiers, and corporations that sold to and winked at the Serb butcher - was largely absent from U.S. media coverage . . .

There is Efrain Ramos Montt, the general who led a President Reagan-backed 1981 military coup to "restore democracy" to Guatemala. Instead, during only 16 months of power, Montt delivered 70,000 indigenous corpses. While 440 Mayan villages and their inhabitants were being systematically eradicated, Reagan was signing a 1982 waiver allowing continued arms sales, insisting that Montt was being given a "bum rap" and was "totally dedicated to democracy." Today, instead of being in jail, Montt is president of the Guatemala Congress and recently placed third in a presidential bid. Because he retires from Congress next month, the 65-year-old will lose diplomatic immunity against two pending accusations of war crimes. Will the Bush administration pursue him with anything approaching the zeal of its Saddam hunt?

It's a safe bet not. The people who aided Montt - and the equally murderous 1980s death squads in El Salvador, and death squads from that era until today in Colombia - now pepper Bush's foreign-policy establishment. One of them, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, also helped seal the 1988 deal that sent military aid to Saddam Hussein, even as reports of the gas attacks emerged.
So, folks, my fervent prayer for this season is . . . "Please let us never have to go through this again."

Be at peace.

December 21, 2003

Once again, Axis of Logic's Manuel Valenzuela tells it like it is. Excerpts:

The struggle humanity is now facing to escape the chains of slavery and serfdom presently being inflicted on us by corporate multinationals that is making automatons of us all is one that must be manifested to the masses; the billions of human beings that have not had the good fortune of being alerted and liberated through education. The brainwashing of humanity that begins at youth, through media channels that feed off our own human nature, and which continues until the grave through an ever expanding array of techniques, tools and technologies has created a society stronger in the Western world but increasing throughout the globe that is self-destructing yet remains ignorant to the coming decimation we are bringing onto ourselves . . .

This systematic brainwashing, nothing more than massive propaganda and an ingraining by means of mass media manipulation, is fast becoming parent, teacher and role model for millions of children worldwide as parents abandon their traditional historical roles due to the ingrained and indoctrinated need to produce and consume that causes them to leave the job of child rearing to the television. It is done through advertisements, cartoons, shows, movies, the Internet and many more forms of media whose sole aim is reaching as many children as possible, as cheaply as possible, in order to create a new generation of consumers, a new generation of drones and automatons. He who controls the media controls the masses . . .

The malignant cancer that is greed is eating away at the fabric of society, and, the longer we let it grow, the harder it will become for us to find a cure for it. It is growing ever bigger, more powerful, ravaging land and man. We are becoming expendable entities, billions more can take our place after all, and, with the centralized system of all industries, our minds are no longer useful. We are drones used for subjugation and exploitation, able bodies that create profits . . .

Is there a solution to this predicament? Can we be saved from a frightening future that will undoubtedly affect us and our progeny? Yes, there is. The answer is education. The answer is action. The answer to so many of the problems inflicting humanity today is education. The masses need to be informed; they need to be made aware. An educated mind is a wonderful and incredibly liberating tool; it emancipates the mind and frees the spirit. Those in power have historically shunned educating the masses for fear that an educated populace would realize what was being done to them and would revolt. By not educating the populace, those in power remained in control. Ignorance is their tool, education their enemy. Education, however, leads to action, which leads to change. Education equals liberation. Only a free, liberated mind can see reality and the truth. And today, more than ever, we need to see reality for what it really is. We need to see the truth.

Several international news sources are now reporting that the PUK captured Saddam, rather than US forces. The most detailed account seems to be this one from The Sunday Herald online (Scotland).

Al Jazeera reports that an Israeli attack on Iran may be imminent.

Y'know, it's really getting to be a tossup as to who is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the middle east: is it the US or Israel?

Or is it Halliburton? Here's an excerpt from "Axis of Avarice" by Molly Ivins on AlterNet:

Speaking of marvels of hypocrisy, the U.N.'s books on who dealt with Iraq are not all that shrouded. For example, one of the disgusting companies actually making profits from dealing with the despicable dictator in the 1990s - long after his depravities had become evident to even the less attentive sectors of the world - was, well, golly, look at this, Halliburton. Between 1997 and 2000, while Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, the company sold $73 million worth of oilfield equipment and services to Saddam Hussein.

At least Halliburton was not selling luxury cars to the Baathist elite. Halliburton, the oilfield equipment company, merely kept Saddam Hussein's oil fields pumping, the only thing that allowed the s.o.b. to stay in power. Halliburton cleverly ran its business with Saddam through two of its subsidiaries, Dresser Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser, in order to avoid the sanctions.

Unlike the Germans, the French and the Russians, Halliburton was not punished by the Bush administration for dealing with the dictator. Instead, it got the largest reconstruction contract given by this administration, with an estimated value between $5 billion and $15 billion. And the company got the contract without competitive bidding.

In this morning's Toronto Star, Chomsky chomps on Jumpin' Jack Straw. Excerpt:

Last December, Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, released a dossier of Saddam's crimes drawn almost entirely from the period of firm U.S.-British support of Saddam.

With the usual display of moral integrity, Straw's report and Washington's reaction overlooked that support.

Such practices reflect a trap deeply rooted in the intellectual culture generally — a trap sometimes called the doctrine of change of course, invoked in the United States every two or three years. The content of the doctrine is: "Yes, in the past we did some wrong things because of innocence or inadvertence. But now that's all over, so let's not waste any more time on this boring, stale stuff."

The doctrine is dishonest and cowardly, but it does have advantages: It protects us from the danger of understanding what is happening before our eyes.

That sorta brings us back full circle to Valenzuela, now don't it?

Be at peace.

December 19, 2003

- - While We're At It, Take Back Congress, Too! - -

In Article I of our Constitution, the legislative branch is listed as the first branch of government. That was neither accident nor chance. In a nation where the people are sovereign, their collective representation in the United States Congress is the heart and core of our system. In light of this basic truth, it pains me to see what is happening in Congress today.

Friends working on the Capitol Hill, and doing business there, have been telling me for months they have never seen it so bad. More than ever, business is being done behind closed doors, and dubious deal making -- you give me this and I'll vote for that sort of arrangements -- is going on. Members of Congress are using one legislative ploy after another to write laws for the few, at the expense of the many, and much of it has been proceeding unnoticed by anyone -- especially the press.

Thus begins a Smirking Chimp piece by John Dean of Findlaw, "The ominous omnibus appropriations bill". It is becoming crystal clear that even if Dean occupies 1600 Penn in '04, this country is f*cked if we still have this bunch of cowardly whores in the House and Senate.

Let's look at the track record: every sitting representative and senator, save Kucinich, currently running for the presidency is a hawk. At least one seems farther right than Rove. Daschle's on his knees and Pelosi (who says she's a member of the same Progressive Caucus that Kucinich is in) is in way over her head. Hillary still doesn't make left turns and supports the destruction of villages. Cons and neocons have laid railroad tracks on the House and Senate floors. Yeah, "moderates" have had a couple of victories . . . which The Cheney Gang either has circumvented or ignored. In spite of all the blustering, neither the Cheney energy papers nor a valid 9/11 report will ever see the light of day.

To top it off, several cracker senators from the souf (who are indistinguishable from Jesse Helms in every (yes, I said every) way), have decided to quit.

I've been reading a book called New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America, by Nathan Miller (published by Scribner in September '03). The parallels are scary: Wilson's failure to overcome ultranationalism and isolationism; Harding (whom Menken called a "nitwit") and Coolidge content to let corporations run the country; and the headlong dive into the mass narcissism of the "anything goes, party-hearty, gotta have it" culture. The "roaring twenties" gave us the rise of gangsterism, a massive economic morass, and WWII.

Please remember . . . whatever The Cheney Gang does is to be expected - they are who they are. The real problem is that the Reagan legacy - "it's my microphone, I paid for it" - is championed by somewhere around 50% of U$X citizens. These are the folks to whom you say, "But Bush is LYING," and they say, "SO WHAT?".

So watcha gonna do when THEY come for you?

Be at peace.

Information Clearing House calls "Best Laid Plans" by Chris Floyd in Moscow Times a must read. So do I. Excerpts:

This has been the plan all along: to install a "strongman" in Iraq who can "hold the country together" and protect the imperial flank while America "projects its dominance" over the oil wealth -- and political life -- of the Middle East and Central Asia. There's no great secret here: Team Bush has been talking about it for years in the corporate-funded "think tanks" they inhabited during the Clinton interregnum. There, they published their dreams about a "new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze" the American public into supporting wide-ranging militarization at home and extensive "interventions" abroad. This vision was most clearly articulated in a September 2000 report published by the Cheney-Rumsfeld group, Project for the New American Century.

Central to this dream -- besides the Pearl Harbor bit, which those lucky duckies got only a year later -- was the conquest of Iraq, a project that PNAC said "transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The crimes of their now-captured errand boy -- most of which (including "gassing his own people") were committed when he was being serviced and pampered by the Reagan-Bush administrations -- were always irrelevant to the PNAC catalyzers, except as a PR pitch to help sell their "transcendent" invasion . . .

That's why the occupation seems such a shambles. The stated policies don't really matter; they're just window dressing for the master plan. Thus they can be discarded the moment they're no longer politically expedient. What matters is getting the strongman in place -- Saddam 2.0, a more obedient, more presentable, less quirky upgrade, who will "invite" a lasting American military presence and uphold Bush's arbitrary decrees granting foreign corporations a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy.

Now, is this an evil plan, conceived in ignorance and arrogance, predicated on the war crime of military aggression, an act of terrorism on a scale than bin Laden could only dream of? You bet. But let's be fair: it is a plan. You can't say that Bush hasn't got one.

Be at peace.

Wonderin' what to give Bubba fer crissmess? How 'bout DIS?!

Be at peace.

December 18, 2003

Finally, a few snatches of good news . . .

Pope Peace Message Takes Swipe at U.S. Over Iraq
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul took a swipe at the United States and its allies Tuesday for invading Iraq without U.N. approval, suggesting they had succumbed to the temptation to use the law of force instead of the force of law.

Bush Overruled on 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect
Thu Dec 18, 4:13 PM ET
By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - President Bush does not have power to detain American citizen Jose Padilla, the former gang member seized on U.S. soil, as an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable
NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 2003

(CBS) For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented . . .

US court grants Guantanamo rights
BBC News, 12/17

Detainees being held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba should have access to lawyers and the US court system, a federal appeals court has ruled. The court said their detention was contrary to US ideals.

It did not accept that the US Government had "unchecked authority".

Be at peace.

December 17, 2003

With heartfelt thanks to mah frien' Miz LeeVanna Rama Dama Doovay, I dedicate the sediments expressed by this crissmess website to Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, and - especially - John Edwards and Wes Clark. I hope this plays in your dreams for eternity.

Be at peace.

Recommended read of the day: ICH's "Is America Sick?", citing an unpublished manuscript, "The IHO Syndrome" by Julien Ninio. Excerpts:

Americans have a legal right to speak more freely than most people on earth. Our Constitution's first Amendment guarantees that 'Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech'. We pride ourselves on our right of free speech and scoff at those who strike speech they dislike . . .

In fact, we long forbade the category of speech called seditious, speech that criticises the government. Under the 1917 Espionage Act, we sent five-time presidential candidate Eugene Debs to jail for making an anti-war speech. Under the 1940 Smith Act, we sent a dozen leaders of the American Communist Party to jail for teaching the Marxist doctrine in the United States--and we outlawed the party. Apart from these two famous examples, we prosecuted thousands of dissidents over nearly 200 years. In 1964, we finally revoked the 1798 Sedition Act that made it illegal to speak or write critically about the government, allowing us to meet the minimal condition for a democratic society for the first time.[2] We have enjoyed our present level of free speech only for a short period, and we can easily lose it.

To control speech, lawmakers now act more subtly than by just yanking rights away. They reduce speech by playing with the balance of rights, by granting government agencies rights that interfere with our right of free speech. For instance, in return for our freedom of speech, the government has a 'freedom to listen'. The recent USA Patriot Act allows government to wiretap us and search our apartments without proving our 'probable involvement' in a crime. The USA Patriot Act also allows government to monitor our emails and the web sites we visit. If an FBI agent worries about a letter you wrote to the editor, he can now order your travel agent, your doctor and your librarian to turn over your records without telling you. The FBI can ask bookstores and libraries to turn over the list of people who bought or borrowed certain books. The USA Patriot Act does not restrict our speech directly. You can say whatever you like, but the FBI can come and bully you if it dislikes whatever you say.[3] If the government has a right to sift through our underwear every time we speak out, we may have a kind of right of free speech, but a weak one, not one we should brag about . . .

When the towers went down in New York, we had a chance to look in the mirror. Immediately, we asked: What have we done? Why us? The attack made no sense in our view of the world, where America presides as the planet's righter of wrongs. For the entire day of the attacks, news programs showed countless Americans asking why anyone would want to hurt us. Then at night Bush appeared and gave a final, abstract answer: 'America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world'. After that, few dared use their right of free speech to suggest more concrete reasons anyone could resent our country. We rallied behind Bush. Those who hated him for stealing the presidency now carried him to the top of the polls. We turned our criticism sensor all the way up, and stoned anyone who whispered the least doubt about the official answer--'they hate our freedoms'. The irony should not be missed: We took away their freedom to disagree with the claim that others hate us for our freedoms. Two weeks after the attacks, essayist Susan Sontag provoked an outburst of outrage when she wrote a piece that contained a single suggestion for her compatriots--to think: 'Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together'.[8] Her suggestion marked her as insensitive and unpatriotic. In times like these, we cannot engage in cold analysis; we must respect other people's feelings, we must respect their wishes neither to think nor to hear contrary views.

I happen to think that that last paragraph is one of the more insightful I've read lately.

Be at peace.

December 16, 2003

- - . . . and deeper and deeper and deeper . . . - -

In an IPS analysis piece, "U.S. Takes Custody of Another Wayward Client", Jim Lobe discusses how, time and time again, the cons and neocons have created gangsters in their own image who later formed their own gangs and turned on their creators. Excerpts:

WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (IPS) - At last in U.S. military captivity, ousted former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein will soon mark an important 20th anniversary, the kind of anniversary that brings with it an appreciation of the ironies of life, and politics.

His captor, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, might also recall long-forgotten memories -- or memories best forgotten -- of what he was doing exactly 20 years ago.

If so, he will remember that he was in Baghdad, as a special envoy from then-president Ronald Reagan, assuring his host that, to quote the secret National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) that served as his talking points: the United States would regard "any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West".

So began the effective resumption of close relations between Baghdad and Washington that had been cut off by Iraq during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Within a year, Washington would fully normalise ties with Saddam and even suggest that the dictator had become a full-fledged "Arab moderate", ready to make peace with Israel . . .

For the next five years, Washington would quietly ensure that Saddam got all the military equipment he needed to stave off defeat, even precursor chemicals that could be used against Iranian soldiers and Kurdish civilians.

Not that Washington supported the use of chemical weapons, particularly against civilians. It was more that the Reagan administration was very reluctant to condemn their use by Iraq back then.

How much more of this intimate relationship Saddam will recall when he gets a public forum is undoubtedly a concern of many current and past administration figures.

The situation echoes the worries of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush over what Panamanian strongman Gen Manuel Antonio Noriega might say in open court about his long and intimate connections to U.S. intelligence agencies when he surrendered to the U..S. military after Washington's invasion of Panama in 1989 . . .

As the Iranians continued to shift the strategic balance, however, the situation became more urgent. On Nov. 26, 1983, NSDD 114, which remains classified, was signed by Reagan, even as U.S. intelligence had learned that Baghdad's forces were using chemical weapons to stop the Iranian offensive.

Rumsfeld was soon on his way to Baghdad in a trip that, by 1985, would result in Washington supplying Saddam with some 1.5 billion dollars worth of weapons equipment and technology, including items applicable to Iraq's nuclear or biological-weapons programme, such as anthrax strains and pesticides.

At the same time, the CIA was tasked to ensure that its former charge not run short of either weapons or vitally needed intelligence on the disposition of Iranian forces, a task, according to a 1995 affidavit by Teicher, that then CIA director William Casey took to with abandon.

Casey, for example, used a Chilean arms company, Cardoen, to supply Iraq with cluster bombs that he thought would be particularly effective against Iranian "human wave" tactics.

Meanwhile, I've been wondering where Ramsey Clarke had got himself to. Stands to reason that he's surfaced as a possible mouthpiece for Hussein, according to IslamOnline.

Writing for Axis of Logic, Manuel Valenzuela gives us one of his well-thought-out analyses of the big picture. This guy continues to just nail it and nail it and nail it. Excerpts:

Deep in the halls of Washington a putrid wind of sweeping ideology festers, swirling like a hurricane from the Atlantic seaboard, becoming a tornado in the frozen tundras of the Midwest, an impenetrable and monstrous fire wall consuming vast tracts of open expanse in the West and a sweltering drought drying up the nation s future. This phenomenon has engendered itself onto an American landscape that remains oblivious as to its dark and ominous designs for the country and the world. The neo-conservative movement it is called, an ideology fostered by a cabal of powerful and influential members of the establishment that today sit at or near the top of the White House, Pentagon, National Security Agency and State Department. Like a virus that was given new life, the once dormant group, for years denied the claws of power, suddenly awoke and spread through all levels of the US government with the appointment of George W. Bush in 2000. This cabal of Machiavelli and autocratic-style believers of power is now deeply entrenched in the highest positions of our government, determining policy and the direction our government and by consequence our nation is headed in . . .

A central tenet of the neocon dream of a Pax Americana was control of centrally-located Iraq where the US would eventually construct three to four permanent military bases, a process that is becoming a reality today. These bases will enable US hegemony throughout the region, including control of the now US-friendly Central Asian nations eager for American energy conglomerate investment. With Iraq s oil reserves safely in American hands, US military strength can now, like a hawk overlooking its territory, keep an ever-watchful eye on the Eurasian regions of most interest to the neocon agenda.

The idea of a democratized Middle East, an important though illusory doctrine of the neocon ideology, was to begin with Iraq, which would act as a catalyst to the eventual domino effect expected throughout the region. That the idea of democracy in Iraq and the Arab world is but a hollow fallacy is of little importance to the neocon goals. Real democracy will never be allowed to prosper by Bush due to the threat of theological or fundamentalist elected mandates picked by the majority of the people. With the exponentially growing levels of anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli feelings running uncontrolled throughout the Muslim world, democracy will at the most mean the installation of cronies and puppets friendly to both the US and Israel under the guise of democracy. This plan assures American and Israeli control of the Middle East, forcing Arab nations to accept Israel s hegemony over the region. In reality, the mirage of democracy in the Middle East is but a propaganda tool being used to manipulate the population in the US into remaining passive believers of an otherwise surreptitious assault on world sovereignty.

Gotta tell ya . . . after reading Valenzuela I'm tempted to just stop writing and permalink to his stuff. Enjoy.

Be at peace.

- -TERROR ALERT!! (Guess Who.)- -

Although I'm not surprised at this MSNBC/Newsweek report called "A Net of Control - Unthinkable: How the Internet could become a tool of corporate and government power, based on updates now in the works", it does create butterflies the size of a space shuttle in my tummy. Excerpts:

Picture, if you will, an information infrastructure that encourages censorship, surveillance and suppression of the creative impulse. Where anonymity is outlawed and every penny spent is accounted for. Where the powers that be can smother subversive (or economically competitive) ideas in the cradle, and no one can publish even a laundry list without the imprimatur of Big Brother. Some prognosticators are saying that such a construct is nearly inevitable. And this infrastructure is none other than the former paradise of rebels and free-speechers: the Internet . . .

How could the freedom genie be shoved back into the bottle? Basically, it’s part of a huge effort to transform the Net from an arena where anyone can anonymously participate to a sign-in affair where tamperproof “digital certificates” identify who you are. The advantages of such a system are clear: it would eliminate identity theft and enable small, secure electronic “microtransactions,” long a dream of Internet commerce pioneers. (Another bonus: arrivederci, unwelcome spam.) A concurrent step would be the adoption of “trusted computing,” a system by which not only people but computer programs would be stamped with identifying marks. Those would link with certificates that determine whether programs are uncorrupted and cleared to run on your computer . . .

Nonetheless, staving off the Internet power shift will be a difficult task, made even harder by apathy on the part of users who won’t know what they’ve got till it’s gone. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours talking to people about this,” says Walker. “And I can’t think of a single person who is actually going to do something about it.” Unfortunately, our increasingly Internet-based society will get only the freedom it fights for[emphasis added].

If our passivity at the demise of democracy is a benchmark, we can kiss this puppy bye-bye, too.

When you've finished reading that piece, go directly to "D.C. Upside Down - Iraq effect: It’s undermining the role of the ideologues in the biggest foreign- policy election since 1968" by Michael Hirsh (also MSNBC/Newsweek). Excerpts:

Today there is a rebalancing of influence between the new transformationalists and the old traditionalists, between those who cry freedom and those who fret about its burdens, between the ideologues and the policy professionals. Power, in other words, is shifting away from the hawks who believe that America can do as it pleases, who embrace American hegemony, even empire, as a righteous cause and see Iraq as the first step toward a grand democratic transformation of the Arab world. That power seems to be increasingly falling to moderates who stress American limitations—carefully matching commitments to resources—and cultivating allies, and who worry that by getting bogged down in grand designs for Iraq, America is failing to deal with other dire threats like North Korea.

It is a clash between unabashed champions of U.S. power, like Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney—as well as influential neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz, all of them latter-day Reaganites—and the realists who grew up embracing containment during Vietnam and the cold war. The latter include wavering realists like Rice and powerful GOP senators such as Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John Warner, who runs the Armed Services Committee. Even within Rice’s NSC, the ideologues are losing altitude. “Traditional realists are more energized in presenting their view assertively,” says Dimitri Simes of the Nixon Center. “A lot of people are becoming quite angry with the ideologues. The feeling is they are just indifferent to facts" . . .

These retreats have undercut the credibility of the neocons and hegemonists, who for three years have gleefully run the levers of power in Washington. Now, sensing Bush’s weakness, once cowed Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are on the attack. And on the other side of the aisle the traditional Republican line, the old Jeffersonian fear of overextension, has reasserted itself. Bush is responding—somewhat. “There is a rounding off of the sharp corners,” says a former moderate Republican official from Bush I. “The language from the White House is less chip-on-your-shoulder than it has been.” It’s still unclear if the trend is permanent—Bush, even as he asked Rice to wrest control of Iraq, notably did not take Rumsfeld to the woodshed when the Defense chief erupted publicly against that policy. And no senior official has yet lost his or her job (though some are thought to be dead men walking, like Pentagon No. 3 Douglas Feith, the neocon who bungled postwar planning and no longer attends Iraq reconstruction meetings).

So, uh, tell me . . . why have we had to sacrifice so many people to get to this point??? The other question is why France, Germany, and Russia are so pissed that we won't give them any reconstruction money. They otta be happy they're keeping this blood off their hands . . . and if they wait long enough, The Cheney Gang will get to FUBAR and it'll be the EU's mess to clean up.

Be at peace.

Haw! If you read nothin' else today, spend five minutes with Greg Palast's Common Dreams piece, "Jessica Lynch Captures Saddam; Ex-Dictator Demands Back Pay from Baker." Excerpt:

While having his hair styled by US military makeover artists, Saddam listed jobs completed at the request of his allies in the Carter, Reagan and Bush administrations for which he claims back wages:

1979: Seizes power with US approval; moves allegiance from Soviets to USA in Cold War.

1980: Invades Iran, then the "Unicycle of Evil," with US encouragement and arms.

1982: Reagan regime removes Saddam's regime from official US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

1983: Saddam hosts Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad. Agrees to "go steady" with US corporate suppliers.

1984: US Commerce Department issues license for export of aflatoxin to Iraq useable in biological weapons.

1988: Kurds in Halabja, Iraq, gassed.

1987-88: US warships destroy Iranian oil platforms in Gulf and break Iranian blockade of Iraq shipping lanes, tipping war advantage back to Saddam.

Be at peace.

December 14, 2003

The capture of Saddam Hussein is indeed cause for celebration. It's always good to get thugs and gangsters off the street. But it changes nothing at the core of things. For Saddam was a made man. And the thugs and gangsters that made him are still making others just like him.

Be at peace

- - Spoiling the Party - -

Previous post notwithstanding, this piece from Occupation Watch is the best news I've heard in weeks. Excerpt:

Southern Oil Company Trade Unionists have declared their workplaces a no-go zone for Halliburton, formerly headed by US Vice President Dick Cheney's, subsidiary Kellog Brown and Root. KBR was give a no-bid contract by USAID to reconstruct bomb-shattered oil refineries and installations in Iraq. Included in the contracts was authorization to export and market Iraqi Oil. The SOC Union however, representing over 10,000 workers has banned all KBR representatives and foreign workers from entering their sites. SOC Union Head Hassan Jum'a says, ''Till this moment we haven't needed any foreigners to come in. We can do everything ourselves'.

Elsewhere, US News & World Report's Christopher H. Schmitt and Edward T. Pound detail how government continues to be sucked into the black hole by The Cheney Gang. Excerpts:

For the past three years, the Bush administration has quietly but efficiently dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government--cloaking its own affairs from scrutiny and removing from the public domain important information on health, safety, and environmental matters. The result has been a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government while making increasing amounts of information unavailable to the taxpayers who pay for its collection and analysis . . .

Beyond the well-publicized cases involving terrorism suspects, the administration is aggressively pursuing secrecy claims in the federal courts in ways little understood--even by some in the legal system. The administration is increasingly invoking a "state secrets" privilege that allows government lawyers to request that civil and criminal cases be effectively closed by asserting that national security would be compromised if they proceed. It is impossible to say how often government lawyers have invoked the privilege. But William Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas-El Paso, who recently completed a study of the historical use of the privilege, says the Bush administration is asserting it "with offhanded abandon." In one case, Weaver says, the government invoked the privilege 245 times. In another, involving allegations of racial discrimination, the Central Intelligence Agency demanded, and won, return of information it had provided to a former employee's attorneys--only to later disclose the very information that it claimed would jeopardize national security.

In Pravda, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey editorializes about the poverty of Rummy's strategy for Afghanistan. Excerpt:

Donald Rumsfeld himself is not devoid of blame in the disaster called Afghanistan. He was a member of the governments which actively supported the Mujaheddin movement to topple the democratic and progressive government of Dr. Najibullah in Kabul, which the Soviet Armed Forces were called upon to protect. It was Rumsfeld's governments that created the chaos which would see Afghanistan spin out of control and the Mujaheddin transform into the Taleban and 1.5 million people dead or injured, in another blatant example of Washington's disastrous external policy.

Duncan Campbell of The Guardian reminds us of our history in "Kissinger approved Argentinian 'dirty war': Declassified US files expose 1970s backing for junta." Excerpts:

The revelations, which were also announced at a conference in Argentina yesterday, confirm suspicions at the time that the regime would not have continued to carry out atrocities unless it had the tacit approval of the US, on which it was dependent for financial and military aid.

The junta, which ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, fell after the military's defeat in the Falklands war. During its period in power an estimated 30,000 people may have been arrested, tortured and killed. Many bodies have never been found.

David Friedman, writing for DU, says that Karl Rove is "Ari Fliescher on crack." I love it! Excerpts:

With Rove it is always smoke and mirrors. And the most important rule of all... IGNORE HYPOCRISY. This more than anything defines the Neocon movement in so many ways. Just ask true fiscal-conservatives boiling mad over out-of-control spending by the Bush administration - at the same time Neocons in Bush's camp say Howard Dean is a tax-and-spend liberal. All of this, of course, designed to show supposed strength and invincibility. Eventually, if the other side goes along, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Kudos to the Rove strategy. It works well.

So, how do you fight that?

You don't fight that, you can't. You just smile, point it out, and remind everyone it's dirty politics . . .

There's a reason they describe Bush as a CEO President, it's because he is. It's his style. It's Cheney's style. It's Condi's style. It's Rove's style. Image is everything in the corporate world. Never let them see you sweat. Business is booming. Strength, strength, strength. The arrow is pointing up. We've made up some charts and graphs to prove it.

It's a cut-throat world out there, and Bushco fits right in. Cheney's statement on having to work with "undesirables" in the war on terror sounded more like a secret business strategy than moral leadership. Don Evans speaking of rolling out their Iraq strategy as "new marketing" just before 2002 elections was a rare moment of non-spun corporate truth. Bush's Thanksgiving in Baghdad and Mission Accomplished fiascos made for glowing press releases, but said nothing about the condition of his corporate empire.

On the ground, riverbend of Baghdad Burning tells us what it's REALLY like. Excerpts (from before Saddam got pinched):

The electricity has been terrible lately- it comes in fits and starts. The moment it goes off, we start running around the house unplugging things and flicking off the power switches- you don't want anything to be turned on when the power comes back either too high or too low. That's why I've been blogging less often. Every time there's electricity, we remember a long list of things that can only be done in an electrical world… like vacuum. Some say it's not only Baghdad- the north also seem to be having continuous electricity problems . . .

The big problem now is that gasoline is hard to come by. This is a very frustrating issue for Iraqis. Gasoline was like water here. In fact, bottled water used to be far more expensive than gasoline and admittedly still is. The lines at the gas stations are long and tedious. E. and my cousin sometimes go to fill up the car and disappear for hours at a time. The gasoline is necessary for running the generators and now they're going to start rationing it. This will mean that within days, the price of gas is going to go up because people will start selling black market gasoline. (ed. note: it'll probably STILL cost less than what KBR is charging.)

Be at peace.

December 12, 2003

- - So Just How Bad ARE Things, Johnny? - -

Well, Ed . . . things are sooooooooooooo bad, that:

1. Unions are f**ked, both here in the U$X and in Iraq. Excerpt from the first piece by AlterNet's Mark Weisbrot:

Tens of thousands of workers are fired each year for joining or attempting to organize a union, in violation of U.S. law. But the penalties for employers are so slight that they have what Human Rights Watch calls "a culture of near impunity."

Employers can also refuse to negotiate for years with a union even after it is recognized, effectively negating their legal obligation to bargain. And while they can't legally fire workers for striking, they can hire "permanent replacements" - a distinction without much difference . . .

Abandoning this basic right to freedom of association has had enormous economic consequences. It is no coincidence that the United States, with one of the lowest rates of unionization in the developed world, is the only high-income country without a national health insurance system. Or that Europeans enjoy five weeks of vacation on average as compared to less than three for Americans.

The second piece is a recent report from Iraq Occupation Watch, "US Attacks Iraqi Unions' Headquarters." Excerpt:

The American occupation forces, using a force of about ten armored cars and tens of soldiers, attacked the temporary headquarters of IFTU (at the headquarters of Transport and Communications Union, in Karkh district, Alawi Al Hilla) in Baghdad) at 10.30 am, Saturday 12/6/2003, and arrested 8 of its leaders and cadres, who were handcuffed and taken away to an unknown destination. The attackers ransacked and destroyed IFTU's possessions, tearing down banners and posters condemning acts of terror, tarnishing the name of IFTU and that of the General Union of Transport Workers (on the building's main front) with black paint and smashing windows glass, without giving any reason or explanation.

(Don't tell me you're surprised . . . there's a solid history of that in our own country.)

2. Law of any and every kind has become irrelevant to The Cheney Gang. The recent admission by Richard Perle that the Iraq invasion was a violation of international law was greeted by a collective shrug. Then yesterday, confronted by Schroeder's suggestion that "the Wolfowitz Doctrine" ("no shootee, no workee") might also be a criminal act, Doubleduh said, "International law? I better call my lawyer."

(His lawyer, however, will probably be pretty busy protecting his brudda Neil's ass, since there are rumors of influence peddling going on, according to this piece from Financial Times.)

3. While claiming that "we're fighting an enemy that doesn't value human life," we're killing everything in the vicinity, while telling the Iraqi Health Ministry to stop publicizing the Iraqi casualty numbers. On the first issue, The Guardian's Julian Borger reports today,

In a study of civilian casualties from the Iraq war, Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that although the air force use of cluster bombs had become more careful since fierce criticism of civilian casualties in Yugoslavia in 1999, the US and British armies continued to use such munitions extensively, firing thousands of artillery shells and rockets, each filled with hundreds of explosive bomblets, or grenades.

The bomblets killed hundreds of civilians when first used, and unexploded duds continue to pose a threat in the postwar period, particularly to children, HRW alleged. The study confirms allegations by Washington and London that Iraqi forces customarily placed their guns near schools, hospitals and other civilian sites, but argues that the coalition should have used different weapons and tactics against them.

Additionally, of course everyone knows that we've killed a bunch of children this week. And in case you missed it yesterday, you need to see Our boys at play.
That's how bad it is.

Be at peace.

December 11, 2003

- - Must Reads - -

In The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh describes the unleashing of The Dark Angel. Excerpts:

Inside the Pentagon, it is now understood that simply bringing in or killing Saddam Hussein and his immediate circle - those who appeared in the Bush Administration's famed "deck of cards" will not stop the insurgency. The new Special Forces operation is aimed instead at the broad middle of the Baathist underground. But many of the officials I spoke to were skeptical of the Administration's plans. Many of them fear that the proposed operation - called "preemptive manhunting" by one Pentagon adviser - has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program. Phoenix was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong. In choosing targets, the Americans relied on information supplied by South Vietnamese Army officers and village chiefs. The operation got out of control. According to official South Vietnamese statistics, Phoenix claimed nearly forty-one thousand victims between 1968 and 1972; the U.S. counted more than twenty thousand in the same time span. Some of those assassinated had nothing to do with the war against America but were targeted because of private grievances. William E. Colby, the C.I.A. officer who took charge of the Phoenix Program in 1968 (he eventually became C.I.A. director), later acknowledged to Congress that "a lot of things were done that should not have been done" . . .

One of the key planners of the Special Forces offensive is Lieutenant General William (Jerry) Boykin, Cambone's military assistant. After a meeting with Rumsfeld early last summer - they got along "like two old warriors," the Pentagon consultant said - Boykin postponed his retirement, which had been planned for June, and took the Pentagon job, which brought him a third star. In that post, the Pentagon adviser told me, Boykin has been "an important piece" of the planned escalation. In October, the Los Angeles Times reported that Boykin, while giving Sunday-morning talks in uniform to church groups, had repeatedly equated the Muslim world with Satan. Last June, according to the paper, he told a congregation in Oregon that "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." Boykin praised President Bush as a "man who prays in the Oval Office," and declared that Bush was "not elected" President but "appointed by God." The Muslim world hates America, he said, "because we are a nation of believers."

Deeper and deeper and deeper . . .


From The Smirking Chimp, Manuel Valenzuela describes how we've gotten dumb and dumbest. Excerpts:

We are the lifeblood of the conglomerate, of vital importance, and, as such, it is in its best interest to control as much of our lives as possible, transforming us into obedient servants of obliviousness. Is it no coincidence, then, that the United States has become a nation whose masses no longer question authority or the propaganda that passes for news? Is it any wonder why we seem so ignorant as to what is being done to us and incurious as to what is happening in the world, readily and naively accepting as true everything that is spewed out of our televisions and newspapers? We have allowed the oligarchy to hide the keys of democracy while we carelessly follow it on the road to fascism, where the elite have control of all aspects of our lives, including our mind . . .

America has become a nation of obedient drones, aimlessly walking empty streets devoid of an informed and participatory population. Our nation is being pillaged in front of our eyes, the government is now in the hands of our masters. Apathetic puppets we have become, free thinking minds we have none. The light that once shined so bright has disappeared in a fictional world of fright. The elite that pull our strings are becoming stronger, objective information is disappearing. The powerful few now control the nation's media and its ideas, and soon our free will and freedom to think as well. Democracy is disappearing, the Leviathan is swallowing us whole little by little, assuring itself of allegiance from a people who once questioned, were once curious and who once had control of this great nation.

. . . and deeper and deeper and deeper . . .


And Ian Traynor of The Guardian discusses the increasing complexity and dire implications of "war for profit." Excerpts:

Private corporations have penetrated western warfare so deeply that they are now the second biggest contributor to coalition forces in Iraq after the Pentagon, a Guardian investigation has established . . .

Since the end of the cold war it is reckoned that six million servicemen have been thrown on to the employment market with little to peddle but their fighting and military skills. The US military is 60% the size of a decade ago, the Soviet collapse wrecked the colossal Red Army, the East German military melted away, the end of apartheid destroyed the white officer class in South Africa. The British armed forces, notes Mr Singer, are at their smallest since the Napoleonic wars.

The booming private sector has soaked up much of this manpower and expertise.

It also enables the Americans, in particular, to wage wars by proxy and without the kind of congressional and media oversight to which conventional deployments are subject . . .

. . . Dyncorp, for example, a Pentagon favourite, has the contract worth tens of millions of dollars to train an Iraqi police force. It also won the contracts to train the Bosnian police and was implicated in a grim sex slavery scandal, with its employees accused of rape and the buying and selling of girls as young as 12. A number of employees were fired, but never prosecuted. The only court cases to result involved the two whistleblowers who exposed the episode and were sacked.

"Dyncorp should never have been awarded the Iraqi police contract," said Madeleine Rees, the chief UN human rights officer in Sarajevo.

. . . and deeper and deeper and deeper . . .

Be at peace.

This is what you get when you don't really have a President. Excerpts:

President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon said it was excluding those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects . . .

Many countries excluded from the list, including close allies like Canada, reacted angrily on Wednesday to the Pentagon action. They were incensed, in part, by the Pentagon's explanation in a memorandum that the restrictions were required "for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States" . . .

White House officials said Mr. Bush and his aides had been surprised by both the timing and the blunt wording of the Pentagon's declaration. But they said the White House had signed off on the policy, after a committee of deputies from a number of departments and the National Security Council agreed that the most lucrative contracts must be reserved for political or military supporters.

Those officials apparently did not realize that the memorandum, signed by Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, would appear on a Defense Department Web site hours before Mr. Bush was scheduled to ask world leaders to receive James A. Baker III, the former treasury secretary and secretary of state, who is heading up the effort to wipe out Iraq's debt. Mr. Baker met with the president on Wednesday.

Several of Mr. Bush's aides said they feared that the memorandum would undercut White House efforts to repair relations with allies who had opposed the invasion of Iraq.


Be at peace.

December 09, 2003

I missed this one the first time around . . . from IPS on December 3:

ISLAMABAD, Dec 3 (IPS) - Addressing the Geneva Initiative on Palestine this week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said something that the world, particularly Muslims, has long believed but which no prominent U.S. public figure dared to say publicly since Sep. 11.

The linkage of U.S. policy in the Middle East, particularly Palestine, with anti-U.S. sentiment and violence has been understood in European capitals and made by Muslim statesmen. But U.S. political and opinion leaders were immune to such commonsensical linkages.

Carter was blunt in saying that courtesy of the Bush Administration's policies, ''the well-being of the Palestinian people has been ignored or relegated to secondary importance'' . . .

Carter said: ''There is no doubt that the lack of real effort to resolve the Palestinian issue is a primary source of anti-U.S. sentiment throughout the Middle East and a major incentive for terrorist activity'' . . .

Khaled Abou el Fadl, a visiting professor at Yale Law School, told the Egyptian weekly 'October' that Bush is ''a Christian religious fundamentalist and that the group around him, of the likes of (deputy Defence Secretary) Paul Wolfowitz and others, hold the same beliefs that accompanied colonialism's entrance to the Muslim countries in the 19th century''.

Y'know, this is all well and good, but it seems to me that JC, an original Trilateralist, has always tried to walk the wire with Midddle East issues. Seems to me I remember he had a little beef with Iran, among other things, which sent him back to Plains to grow peanuts and do a little carpentery.


While I'm at it, I missed this one the first time around, too. It's a Sunday WaPo piece from mid-November - "It's a Little Too Cozy in the Blogosphere" by Jennifer Howard. Excerpts:

It was a cool idea, a fresh kind of media democracy for a new-media world. Thanks to the miracle of blogging technology, any smart kid in Boise or Brooklyn could set up his own Web site and weigh in on everything from regime change in Iraq to snarky book reviews. He didn't need a publisher, a journalism degree or an old-boy network, just a computer, an Internet connection and an opinion (and bloggers have plenty of those). Part reporter, part gadfly, part cheeky upstart, bloggers seemed to scorn the insider mentality of brand-name pundits, and they were often a lot more fun to read -- and more insightful . . .

What began as the ultimate outsider activity -- a way to break the newspaper and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information -- is turning into the same insider's game played by the old establishment media the bloggerati love to critique. The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They've fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they're creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn't been broken by the Internet's democratic tendencies; it's just found new enabling technology . . .

Maybe the back-scratching started as revolutionary solidarity. Now it's a popularity contest in which the value of information is confused with the cool quotient of the person spreading it . . .

"The bloggerati?????!!!" I hope the folks at LoL are listening.


Quote of the month, from Lt. Colonel Nathan Sassaman in Iraq: "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them."

And the executions will continue until morale improves.

Be at peace.

- -Good Mornin', Ar Ramaaaaaaaaaadi!! - -

(Or, it's lookin' more and more like Saigon every day ...) Stars and Stripes reports that Armed Forces Network will start broadcasting Live (?) from Beautiful Downtown Baghdad this week. Adrian Cronauer could not be reached for comment. Robin Williams was seen trying on camo's and Kevlar.

Be at peace.

Oh, OK . . . I GET IT! We're gonna give Iraq back to the Iraqis when there's nothing left to give back. The tagging of James Baker as the guy who'll "deal with" Iraq's debt is absolutely classic, considering the fact that Baker works as a lawyer for Saudi Arabia, a country which claims Iraq owes it about $43 billion. This is the same James Baker who's doing everything he can to make sure nobody finds out what role the Saudi's had in the WTC/Pentagon attacks.

Greg Palast, writing for, has more. Excerpts:

Let's ponder what's going on here.

We are talking about something called "sovereign debt." And unless George Bush has finally 'fessed up and named himself Pasha of Iraq, he is not their sovereign. Mr. Bush has no authority to seize control of that nation's assets nor its debts.

But our President is not going to let something as trivial as international law stand in the way of a quick buck for Mr. Baker. To get around the wee issue that Bush has no legal authority to mess with Iraq's debt, the White House has crafted a neat little subterfuge. The official press release says the President has not appointed Mr. Baker. Rather Mr. Bush is "responding to a request from the Iraqi Governing Council." That is, Bush is acting on the authority of the puppet government he imposed on Iraqis at gunpoint.

I will grant the Iraqi "government" has some knowledge of international finance; its key member, Ahmed Chalabi, is a convicted bank swindler . . .

Much of the so-called debt to Saudi Arabia was given to Saddam Hussein to fight a proxy war for the Saudis against their hated foe, the Shi'ia of Iran. And as disclosed by a former Saudi diplomat, the kingdom's sheiks handed about $7 billion to Saddam under the table in the 1980's to build an "Islamic bomb."

Be at peace.

December 08, 2003

- - Alert!! Am K'ayda on the Loose!! - -

This from CBS11 TV in Dallas/Fort Worth:

Federal authorities this year mounted one of the most extensive investigations of domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing, CBS 11 has learned.

Three people linked to white supremacist and anti-government groups are in custody. At least one weapon of mass destruction - a sodium cyanide bomb capable of delivering a deadly gas cloud - has been seized in the Tyler area.

Investigators have seized at least 100 other bombs, bomb components, machine guns, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and chemical agents. But the government also found some chilling personal documents indicating that unknown co-conspirators may still be free to carry out what appeared to be an advanced plot. And, authorities familiar with the case say more potentially deadly cyanide bombs may be in circulation . . .

“One would certainly have to question why an individual would feel compelled to stockpile sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, acetic acid, unless they had some bad intent,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Rivers, who is prosecuting the case. “They certainly had the capacity to be extremely dangerous.”

Terrorism investigators suspect that Krar, who has paid no federal income taxes since 1988, made his living as a traveling arms salesman who pedaled illicit bomb components and other weapons to violent underground anti-government groups across the country.

Be at peace.

December 06, 2003

- -A Difficult Decision - -

With sadness and trepidation, after much consideration, I have decided to withdraw this blog's support for Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign and endorse Howard Dean's candidacy. There - done . . . dammit.

Let me be clear. In my opinion, Congressman Kucinich is the better man. His world vision is clear. His spiritual grounding is obvious. His commitment to leading this country from the moral sewer to truly realize its potential is unshakeable. He has integrity, depth, and character. He should continue to be the best spokesman for the resurgence of a progressive populist force.

But these are dangerous times. Our federal government has been hijacked by a group of thugs and thieves who have a power base of resources that is ubiquitous, feral, and hungry. I fear that they will pull out all the stops to continue in power a year from now. Now is not the time, therefore, to put resources into building the progressive body politic . . . now is the time to remove the cancer and stop the bleeding.

Governor Dean will fill the bill - and he can (must) win. For the first time in many years, I feel that the choice will not be between "the lesser of two evils," but between a decent man and evil personified and incorporated.

In August of this year, Nico Pitney wrote a pretty good analysis in AlterNet. Excerpts:

The goal of progressives in the coming months, then, should be to continue what we're doing now – organizing, developing alternative social, economic, and environmental programs, and working to raise the national profile of our allies in the public sphere – while supporting Howard Dean and helping him win the primary and general elections. We have to keep close in mind what our country and our world will look like if George W. Bush's administration captures another term and can carry out its agenda without being restrained by reelection considerations. In what will likely be the most divisive and bitterly contested presidential election in decades, let's not use our precious energy and resources on candidates with no chance of defeating Bush. Rather, let's make sure to elect a candidate who, like Dean, at least supports publicly financed elections, instant run-off voting, and a constitutional amendment declaring that political contributions are not free speech, so that we directly strike at the structural stultification of our electoral system that forces us to limit our choices in the first place . . .

There is, in fact, good reason to believe that progressive supporters of Dean are well aware of his record, and are choosing to support him despite its flaws. As American Prospect senior editor Garance Franke-Ruta points out, "the most important part of the Dean message is that it makes [supporters] feel that they have the power to control their own destiny. ... This sense of renewed personal power and hope seemed more important to most posters [to Dean's weblog] than any specific policies that Dean supports or does not support, and few on the threads agreed wholeheartedly with the former governor on all his positions. Most recognized that he is a centrist who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal."

Critically, Dean's progressive supporters share a visceral passion to purge the White House of George Bush and his dangerous administration. They seem to agree with Bernard Weiner of the Crisis Papers, who admits that "from a long-term historical perspective, the Democrats and Republicans look and behave virtually alike. But in the real world, where most people live, there is just enough of a difference to justify a vote for a reasonable Democratic candidate for President. One's sense of personal 'purity' might be slightly compromised by voting for the Democratic candidate and thus helping to perpetuate a system that is not as uncorrupted as we would all like. But I don't think we can afford that self-involved luxury in 2004; this election decision is simply too vital, a matter of life and death for so many around the world."

Yesterday, Molly Ivins, also writing in AlterNet, clinched it for me. Excerpts:

It is the bounden duty of bleeding-heart liberals like myself to make our political choices based on purity of heart, nobility of character, depth of compassion, sterling integrity and generosity of spirit. The concept of actually winning a political race does not, traditionally, influence the bleeding heart liberal one iota – certainly not in the primaries.

Over the years, I have proudly voted for a list of losers only a lily-pure liberal could love. I am rather surprised not to find myself in the camp of the Noble Dennis Kucinich this year. (And believe me, there are supporters of the Noble Dennis who are plenty upset about it, too.) In fact, I initially passed on Dean precisely because he looked like one of my usual losers – 2 percent in the polls and the full weight of Vermont behind him ... wow, my kind of guy . . .

I know, he's even less of a liberal than Bill Clinton was, but I don't think Dean is a moderate centrist. I think he's a fighting centrist. And folks, I think we have got ourselves a winner here.

The Dumbopublicans have too much of a history of beating each other's brains out on the way to and during the convention. That must be avoided in this election cycle. Whoever is opposed to The Cheney Gang needs to unite, early and forcefully, behind the one candidate who has shown he has the strategy, financial backing, mostly right (er, left) ideas and sensibilities, and balls to save our asses.

The best thing Dennis Kucinich, Carol Braun, and Al Sharpton can do for the progressive movement now is to get out of Dean's way. I believe that if Dean wins big in New Hampshire, Iowa, and one or two other early contests, he will have more momentum than any Democrat since Carter.

This blog will not cease its progressive scream. In fact, it may get more strident. Because I don't see Howard Dean as "the answer." I just don't want the question to be "why didn't we put EVERYTHING into ousting Bush?"

Be at peace.

- - Let's Get To It - -

Ernest Partridge of The Crisis Papers, writing in DU, adds more advice for the Dumbopublicans. Excerpts:

Disband the circular firing squad and keep your eyes on the prize. It’s happened before, and now it’s happening again: the rivals for the nomination are beating each other up so mercilessly that the nomination may, at length, not be worth the winning.

Instead of trying to convince us that “my rivals can’t beat Bush,” much better to say “I have the stuff to beat Bush and furthermore will better serve the American people, and this is why,” and then the focus should be relentlessly on Bush’s personal disqualifications and his failed policies.

Before the nomination is settled in the primaries, the Democrats have a golden opportunity to use the “free media” of primary and debate coverage to make their case against Bush and the GOP. If they are so foolish as to use that time to diminish each other and the eventual candidate, then perhaps they deserve to lose in November -- except that the alternative is far more gruesome . . .

The GOP has profited mightily from “The Big Lie:” repeated constantly until it is widely believed to be true. Witness FOX TV's claim to be “fair and balanced,” Bill O’Reilly’s “no-spin zone,” Rush Limbaugh’s inventions followed by “folks, I’m not making this up.” But most notorious of all: the lies about Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and the alleged Saddam/Al Qaeda connection. The latter Big Lie has led two-thirds of the American public to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And yet, on September 17, Bush himself said: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with Sept. 11."

In response, the Democrats would be wise to consider the efficacy of “The Big Truth.” Just as lies can, with constant unrefuted repetition, be widely believed to be true, so too can significant truths come to be widely believed if they are constantly repeated. So the Democrats must abandon the “laundry lists” of issues, and instead repeatedly pound on the “hot button issues.” Bush is a liar. He is an international outlaw. He and his gang are robbing you of your wealth, your future, and the future of your children. He has brought our beloved country into disrepute the world over. And he is sending our kids abroad to fight and die for Cheney's Halliburton and his Daddy's Carlisle Group.

Be at peace.

December 05, 2003

- - Nader: Catastrophic at Any Speed - -

Since yesterday, every time I even think of the guy, he appears in my head looking like Max Headroom. He must be suckin' on his last canister of Corvair exhaust . . . OK, look . . . I can't be rational about this, so I'll let BuzzFlash tell most of it. Excerpts:

Here's the bottom line reality: if Ralph Nader runs as a Green Party candidate for President or as an Independent candidate (which is apparently a recent consideration of his.), Nader's candidacy will, in large part, be a tool of the RNC Campaign to Re-elect Bush . . .

Now it appears that the anti-ego candidate has either been baptized in the water of political self-importance or is involved in far more sinister motives: a grudge match against the Democratic Party that -- in its intensity -- far exceeds his concern for the future of America under an anti-democracy, repressive, polluting, lying, corrupt, theocratic Republican rule. Nader, of all people, should be daily railing against an illegitimate administration that combines the worst tendencies of a Soviet style police state with a Francisco Franco/Mussolini style of a few inside large corporations fusing themselves with the ruling party to determine the policies and regulations that govern this nation. That's not a radical, extremist statement: that's how radical and extremist the Bush Administration is . . .

Anyone who thinks that Rove and the RNC WON'T be secretively doing everything that they can to support Nader either has a cabbage for a brain or is so blinded by idealism that they have become naïve puppets. Ralph's decision to run, which appears made out of his personal sense of entitlement (despite his spokesperson's standard political hedging), will probably accomplish only one goal: the election of George W. Bush in 2004 . . .

This is a good editorial, and there's a lot more in it. If Nader runs, I'll send him as many shiney Raygun dimes as I can tape to a postcard. The only job he's really qualified for is crash dummy.

- - Giving at the Office (Big Bucks Style) - -

George Soros writes in this morning's WaPo about why he's throwing million$ into throwing Doubleduh out. Excerpt:

If Americans reject the president's policies at the polls, we can write off the Bush Doctrine as a temporary aberration and resume our rightful place in the world. If we endorse those policies, we shall have to live with the hostility of the world and endure a vicious cycle of escalating violence.

(Thanks to Eric at The Hamster for the tip.)

- - More Perles of Stupidity and Greed - -

First, read TPM's blurb:

Okay, when can we all just admit that the Rosetta Stone of today's Washington (viz, the defense-intel -money-chase -homeland-security-lobbying mumbo-jumbotron) is the account book of Richard Perle's "Trireme Partners"?

Turns out now that Boeing (themselves now in a bit of military-industrial complex hot water) 'invested' $20 million too.

Then, read the Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece, written prior to the Iraq invasion. Excerpt:

When Perle was asked whether his dealings with Trireme might present the appearance of a conflict of interest, he said that anyone who saw such a conflict would be thinking “maliciously.� But Perle, in crisscrossing between the public and the private sectors, has put himself in a difficult position—one not uncommon to public men. He is credited with being the intellectual force behind a war that not everyone wants and that many suspect, however unfairly, of being driven by American business interests. There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war. In doing so, he has given ammunition not only to the Saudis but to his other ideological opponents as well.

Then, finish the trip with this Forbes/Reuters piece. Excerpt:

Boeing Co. in recent years has committed to invest about $250 million in around 29 venture-capital funds, some of which either employ or are advised by Washington insiders, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

The company has committed to invest some $20 million in Trireme Partners, which invests in homeland-security technologies, the paper said. Trimeme's principal is Richard Perle, who until March was chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the defense secretary.

The other big commitment, also $20 million, is to Paladin Capital Group, a Washington firm that runs a homeland security fund, the paper said. R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and a member of the Defense Policy Board, is principal at Paladin, the report said.

Get it? Having fun yet? Can you hear me now?

By the way, Paul Krugman is now writing for Pravda. Read this. Excerpt:

The point is that on the matter of taxes, the right had more or less declared its intention to - as [Henry Kissinger] put it - "smash the existing framework," in this case the framework of the American tax system as we know it. Yet the American political and media establishment couldn't believe that [George W. Bush] would really try to achieve that goal.

Endless wars, tax giveaways, budget deficits - the president is playing by a radical new set of rules, while the media and the Democrats give him a free ride

THE SATIRICAL WEEKLY The Onion describes itself as "America's finest news source" - and for the last few years that has been the literal truth. Its mock news story for January 18th, 2001, reported a speech in which President-elect George W. Bush declared, "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

And so it has turned out.

Be at peace.