November 30, 2003

How Tough Is Beating Bush Gonna Be?

Bush & Co. know they stole the last election. They know they have run amok, assuming a radical mandate with only 17% of the US people's support. They have polarized US opinion like never before and they know there is about 40% of voters they will simply NOT be able to entice. Another 40% will vote for them almost no matter what they do, provided they actually bother to vote. But it's the remaining 20% that both sides are focussing on now.

Apparently Karl Rove, Bush's senior advisor and the real Top Dog in the White House, carries a batch of bar graphs in his briefaces every day, showing in stark green the numbers of "undecided" voters who will swing the next election.

Bush's campaign Web site already has signed up 6 million supporters, 10 times more than Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

In other news:

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan doubled between 2002 and 2003 to a level 36 times higher than in the last year of rule by the Taliban. That's poppy as in opium, as in drugs for your kids. A White House statement said, "A challenging security situation... has complicated significantly the task of implementing counter-narcotics assistance programs and will continue to do so for the immediate future". In other words, warlords rule the "liberated" country and will continue to do so.

November 28, 2003

So Who Arms These Terrorists Anyway???

The United States was once again the runaway leader in worldwide arms sales in 2002. Of the $13.3 billion plus in arms sales, $8.6 billion was to developing nations. Russia was second in sales to the developing world last year, with a relatively modest $5 billion, followed by France with a meagre $1 billion.

Who armed Saddam? USA.

Who armed and trained Osama Bin Laden? USA.

As the Guardian reports, the US administration's defence authorisation bill for fiscal year 2004 totals $401.3 billion, plus an additional $150 billion for one-off appropriations for US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes provision for the controversial Star Wars program, plus "mini-nukes" which will make nuclear warfare "both more doable and more likely".

US defence expenditure under Mr Bush is higher, in relative terms, than equivalent, average American spending during the Cold War. Michael Moore's "Bowling For Columbine" documentary explored the madness of US citizen's obsession with handguns. This is the same madness on a much, much larger scale.

US Weaponry, not Terrorism, is the single greatest threat to the future of our planet.
How Embarrassment!

US runs out of funds to pay Iraqi contractors. You can bet Bechel and Halliburton are still getting paid, of course. Talk about winning hearts and minds...
Rasta Poet Rejects OBE

Outspoken British poet and activist Benjamin Zephaniah was stunned to recieve a letter from the PM's office offering him an OBE award. But he was more than happy to turn it down:

"You can't fool me, Mr Blair. You want to privatise us all; you want to send us to war. You stay silent when we need you to speak for us, preferring to be the voice of the US. You have lied to us, and you continue to lie to us, and you have poured the working-class dream of a fair, compassionate, caring society down the dirty drain of empire. "
Bush Pulls Off Another Stunt

No wonder it's been so quiet (see below). The Bushies have been holding their collective breath as Boy Wonder prepared for another needlessly reckless media stunt. Last night the newspapers were reporting that El Busho would be spending Thanksgiving on the Ranch, no surprise for a guy who has had more days off than any other modern Oval Office resident. This morning we hear that the Generalissimo has just jetted into Baghdad for a dinner with the troops.

Fortunately for Bush, a British pilot who spotted Air Force One en route kept quiet about it. Imagine if Bush himself had become a victim of "Friendly Fire"? Now THAT would have been ironic.

On arrival, Bush said: "I was looking for a warm meal somewhere. Thanks for inviting me to dinner."

How corny is that? But that's the thing about Dubya - you either love him or hate him. The Bush administration has polarized US voters like never before. And it's not just about policy, it's also personality. Personally, I detest him on both counts. He really is a Smirking Chimp. Others say they hate his policies, but like the man, or vice versa. I wonder how they would feel if they were watching him being indicted for war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court at the Hague?

No doubt this latest stunt will be worth a few percentage points on the polls. It will also generate a few "Visit Boosts Troop Morale" stories, for a while... Who says showbiz and politics don't mix?

November 26, 2003

Did The War End Or Not?

El Busho and his various mouthpieces say that the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln was placed there by sailors glad their mission was accomplished and that it did not signify an end to the war in Iraq. But as the Washington Post reports, the White House website itself ran a story with a headline proclaiming just that: "Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended."

With hostilities unilaterally declared over, how can those arrested or killed over the last six months be considered "enemy combatants"?
In the news...

The red sea urchin found in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean is one of the Earth's longest-living animals. The small, spiny creature can last for more than 200 years with few signs of age-related disease.

Why am I telling you this? Because that's what I am reading on the news these days. El Busho has gone to ground and so have most of his cohorts. The irrepresible Rummy stuck his head up to criticize Arab media who broadcast statements from Saddam and Al Quaeda - so much for freedom of the press - but that's about it. Maybe Bush & Co. are relieved the much-hyped London protests were not all they could have been, or maybe they've just worked out that the best thing they can do is keep their mouths shut, hope the killings in Iraq subside and work hard at generating some good news before the election gets into full swing.

So they slap a $260 million dollar withdrawal on the Israeli government's US loans. But it's just part of a $9 billion package. Pretty minimnal, albeit it has some value as a warning to Sharon.

So they tout the recent lift in the US economy. But the economy has flat-lined since 9/11, it would be almost impossible to go another year WITHOUT a lift.

And did anyone notice that the arrest of Michael Jackson just happened to co-incide with El Busho's visit to London? Now Jacko is outraged that he was secretly filmed chatting with his lawyer on a private flight. Get used to it. With the Homeland Security changes, the same thing can happen to anybody.

P.S. Sorry for the long break. I have been travelling and sick and busy (not a good combo).

November 18, 2003

Italy's representative on Iraq's Coalition Provisional Council has resigned.

"I am in deep disagreement with the policies of the coalition, whether they be about the economic reconstruction of the country or about the democratic transition," Marco Calamai told the media.

"The provisional authority is not working," said Calamai, Italy's representative on the council headed by the American Paul Bremer.

"To my mind, only a new, United Nations driven international plan giving Europe a greater role can improve the situation which is seriously compromised at the moment."

"Projects which have been implemented are not working and the Iraqis are more and more furious," he said. "This social unrest can only encourage terrorism."
Brits Warned US About Lack Of Post-War Planning

As Bush prepares for his foolish $10 million trip to London, Sir Christopher Meyer — ambassador to the United States from 1997 to just before the war — says Britain warned the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq that it was not planning sufficiently for postwar reconstruction and pressed for the invasion to be delayed. Meyer told The Observer in Sunday that the advice on postwar planning was ignored.
Massaging the Text

Bush & Co are just playing semantics when they say the US occupation will be handed over to a provisional national assembly. Their selected puppets haven't even been able to write a draft consititution, so US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, will be writing it for them (in US English, using MS Word and Times Roman font, no doubt).

When the provisional government is chosen in June, US presence will change, Mr Bremer said, "from an occupation to an invited presence. I'm sure the Iraqi government is going to want to have coalition forces here for its own security for some time to come".

The same thing happened in Japan after WWII, and the US still refuses to pull out its troops. Today, the governor of Okinawa sprung a surprise on Donald Rumsfeld, using a media conference to air a list of grievances about US bases.

Mr Inamine said that "incidents and accidents caused by US military personnel, and environmental problems stemming from the bases, have created enormous impacts on people's lives, while the facilities became the outstanding hindrance to urban development and economic promotion". The Governor's list of complaints included noise pollution, the level of military training conducted in Okinawa and the Navy's effect on marine wildlife.

After nearly 40 minutes, Mr Rumsfeld said it was time to end the discussion. "We've listened," he said politely but firmly.

At least the US occupation of Japan after WWII was legal and had genuine international support from a genuine "Coalition of the Willing".

November 16, 2003

Courtesy Steve Bell.

November 15, 2003

A Taste Of Iraqi Independence

So what was with Bremer running back to Washington for a 1-to1 with El Prez? Did he lose it with the Iraqi Council members, or was he summoned poste-haste by a Prez who is losing his mojo? Presumably the latter - Bremer doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would stand up the leader of Poland, the only "coalition of the willing" ally beside Britain who is actually sending a meaningful number of troops (I wonder what the Poles are getting for their trouble?).

Either way, as the Washington Post reports, Bremer has gone back to Baghdad with a cunning plan. But why hasn't Bremer or Busho announced this plan? Because it's been developed for the Iraqi Governing Council and they will announce it shortly as THEIR plan.

According to the Post, "The administration wants the new political blueprint to appear as if it were generated by the council and not by Bremer and the White House."

A bit late for that now.

At this stage of the game, it's all about 4 More Years. Naturally, George W. "Pontius Pilate" Bush will be happy to wipe his hands of the Iraqi peoples' problems, at least publicly, even though he bears responsibility for them.

The plan involves handing over power to Iraqis, based on local town council elections across the country. The problem with this approach is that the average Iraqi will not be allowed anywhere near the town council meeting. A real democractic election will not be held until late 2004 or even 2005. By then the "band-aid" government should have settled in cosily with the US puppetteers. Maybe the Iraqi elections will use voting machines from Diebold?

November 14, 2003

And Now For The Bad News - It's Not Just Bush

OK, Bush is the worst White House resident in US history. OK, his neo-con backers are a bunch of rabid, slobbering, war-mongering buffoons. But the sad fact is that Bush is just a symptom of what is wrong with the USA today. Hopefully his dismissal in 2004 - if not his impeachment beforehand - will encourage a healing national process of self re-discovery for what used to be the greatest democracy in the world.

Without widespread public support, Bush would never have been able to steal the last election. Ok, he dressed up as a wolf in "caring conservative" sheep's clothing, but the truth is that nearly half the voting public backed him, and the 51% who didn't bother to vote are just as much a part of the problem. They probably still don't care what he is doing to their country and the world, as long as their baseball team is winning or their favourite star has a new album/movie coming out.

Without widespread public support, Bush and Co. would be in jail by now. In this case it's not just the US public, but particularly the US politicians in the Senate and the House, who must bear the blame. They gave Bush unprecedented powers after 9/11. They gave him the power to declare an unprecedented unilateral war on Saddam. They passed his trillion dollar deficits and $87 billion war chests, they passed his anti-environmental bills. They let people like Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft run rampant.

The Economist magazine this week has a good look at how and why the USA is out of step with the rest of the world, particularly Europe. The following image puts it all in a nutshell:

November 13, 2003

My Way Or The Highway

I know I shouldn't bother reading the Murdoch press, but today I came across this quote by reporter Greg Sheridan in "The Australian" newspaper:

"Anyone hoping that the Americans suffer a humiliating defeat in Iraq to bring them back to earth is really hoping that Arabs remain forever chained in tyranny, poverty and failure."

I am so tired of hearing that crap. You are with us or you are against us. If you don't support our illegal war, you support dictators and terrorists. If you don't support Bush's tax cuts for the mega-rich, then you wish Saddam was still in power, don't you? If you don't vote for right-wing extremists, you must be a gay, tree-hugging, anti-life liberal fool who sips caffe lattes in art deco bars while drawing welfare.

Do the press and politicians think we are all so dumb that we can only swallow "either-or" propositions? Why is it necessary to demonize anyone who disagrees with your ideas?

I don't want to see the US suffer a "humiliating defeat". But withdrawal from Iraq doesn't necessarily have to equal a US defeat (that is once again an "either-or" proposition).

If Bush pulled out now, he could legitimately claim to have (A) gotten rid of Saddam (unless he comes back) and (B) given the Iraqi people a chance for freedom, if they want it. He could also claim that Iraq is now free of WMDs, whether or not it was before the war. But he wouldn't be able to keep his hands on the oil, and he probably wouldn't be able to keep a US military base in Iraq, so of course he won't do it.

I would like to see the US withdraw quickly and efficiently, with no further loss of life. I would like to see brave Iraqis seizing a real chance at a truly independent democracy. Sure, a quick US withdrawal now will create a struggle for the Iraqis, but at least it will be their own struggle for their own futures.

In an AlterNet interview, New York Times journalist Paul Krugman, a moderately conservative economist who has become a leading critic of the Bush administration, goes into more depth about how Bush and Co. exploit this "either-or" over-simplification.

November 12, 2003

There's A Rat In The Kitchen

I remember living in London about 10 years ago and seeing news stories about how the UK government was trying to help build up an "Iraqi Opposition" to topple Saddam Hussein. Western governments were befuddled by the Iraqi people's inability to rise up spontaneously and overthrow the despot, so they eagerly courted Iraqi dissidents and tried to help them form a more unified opposition. Even then, it was a hopeless case.

Like Tito in Yugoslavia, Saddam had cleverly exploited tribal ethnic and religious tensions to keep his opponents eternally wary of each other. Sunnis, Kurds, Shi-ites - they all hated each other.

Then along came Ahmed Chalabi. This man was a dream come true for the Western spy agencies. He talked their language and he seemed to be able to always provide them with exactly the right information. He knew exactly where the WMDs were being hidden, how many tonnes of anthrax Saddam was hiding in the desert, how far his nuclear programs had gone, how closely he was tied to Al Quaeda and other terrorists. Eureka!

The truth is, the US and British governments were so desperate to find an Iraqi Opposition that they actually CREATED Ahmed Chalibi. He was just a clever con-man who saw their need and offered them exactly what they wanted - information. In return, they wined and dined him for years. Chalibi was given the red carpet treatment in London, Paris and Washington.

As his perceived influence grew, his power base among Iraqis also began to grow. Soon he really WAS someone important. By the time the US invaded Baghdad, he was the obvious puppet leader of the provisional Iraqi government-in-waiting. Just the kind of guy the CIA could count on to keep quiet about oil pipeline deals and such.

But ordinary Iraqis had never heard of Ahmed Chalibi, unless it was in reference to his widely publicised fraud conviction in Jordan.

Then came the war. While US forces were toppling statues, Chalibi's supporters formed armed gangs that went around Baghdad intimidating people in a desperate bid to build influence and take advantage of the chaos. Chalibi himself appeared on chat shows around the world, sounding less and less believable every day.

Now that the US is getting bogged down in Iraq, the neo-cons want Chalibi to act. They want him to show some leadership, to bring the Iraqi Governing Council into line, to produce visible results for their US TV audience - like a draft consitution, for starters. But the truth is, Chalibi is incapable of anything like that. So are most of the other hand-picked puppets of the Governing Council, most of whom spend their time overseas "brokering deals" in plush restaurants and hotels.

So now it's showdown time. Yesterday Paul Bremer was rushed back to Washington for urgent discussions. The neo-cons are now telling Chalibi and his Council colleagues that if they can't get their acts together, they will be replaced. In return, the council is demanding an immediate handover of power. Either way, the Iraqi people lose: they get prolongued chaos under US occupational foreces, or they get an incompetent government that will probably not be able to stop a descent into civil war.

As the Council members know, the big question for Bush is: WHO IS GOING TO REPLACE THEM???

This is just another sign of the Bush administration's childish simplification of very complex issues. How else do you convince yourself that you can waltz into two Arab countries in two years and be welcomed by grateful citizens waving US flags? How else do you imagine that you can defy the international community and not become an international pariah?

Or perhaps, at this stage, with elections looming and polls plummetting, it has become a blame game. Perhaps Chalibi will become the World's Greatest Fraud, a new Face Of Evil (replacing Osama and then Saddam). Perhaps Bush & Co. will choose to blame Chalibi and his Council for failing to establish a viable government within their allocated timeframe ("everything would've been just dandy if these dang Iraqis had gotten their acts together").

Perhaps they will also blame Chalibi for the false information they received in the leadup to the war. That will take the blame off both the White House and the CIA (who will be duly grateful). Now THERE'S an exit strategy!

If the US public buys such a line, it could get Bush across the line in 2004. That is all Bush and his team want. Once they are re-elected, as you well know, they will do whatever they please. Four more years to tarry in Iraq, get the oil wells functioning properly, and start reaping the benefits of their "grand plan" (aka the Project For A New American Century).

As I said on Saturday, May 31, 2003 (only my second post on this Blog) perhaps the Bush boyz never really planned to fix Iraq in a hurry. Perhaps they plan to hang around as long as possible, maintaining an acceptable level of chaos as an excuse for their presence. Because the longer US troops can hang around, the more oil the Bush boyz get their hands on. Plus they keep their military poised for action right in the Middle of the East, exactly where the big money is.

Yee ha! Feel the power!
Al Gore Speaks Out Against Bush - Two Years Too Late

At a event last Sunday, Al Gore gave an impassioned speech attacking the lies, deceit and foolishness of the Bush administration. His speeches these days are quite eloquent and very much on the ball:

"I want to challenge the Bush Administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.

Because it is simply not true.

In fact, in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden.

In both cases, the Administration has attacked the wrong target.

In both cases they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.

For the full speech, see AlterNet.

These days Gore calls himself a "recovering politician" (as in "recovering alcoholic"). Ha Ha. He's still got it, obviously. Clinton should have paid more attention to grooming a successor.

What bothers me about Gore is the way he stepped aside and just handed Bush the keys to the White House - why, why, why didn't he make a stand??? The world today could have been a very different place under President Gore. For one thing, he wouldn't have used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Donald Rumsfeld, February 20th 2003, when asked if US forces would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq:

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed... Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

Donald Rumsfeld, September 25th, 2003:

"Never said that. Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 18, 2002, testifying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the House Armed Services Committee:

"(Saddam) has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons.. including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas."

Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 19, 2002:

"(Saddam) has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons."

Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon news conference, October 2003:

Reporter: "In retrospect, were you a little too far-leaning in your statement that Iraq categorically had caches of weapons, of chemical and biological weapons, given what's been found to date? You painted a picture of extensive stocks."

Rumsfeld: "Wait. You go back and give me something that talks about extensive stocks. The U.N. reported extensive stocks. That is where that came from. I said what I believed to be the case, and I don't - I'd be surprised if you found the word 'extensive."'

(quotes courtesy of Common Dreams)
Billions Against Bush

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has pledged $US15.5 million to help get rid of W. Bush - and says he'll donate more if it's needed.

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," says Soros, who experienced both Nazi and Soviet rule as a Hungarian child. "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans."

Soros says there is a "supremacist ideology" in the White House. He calls the neo-cons "a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of Social Darwinism".

In a showcase display of hypocrisy, US Republicans are already criticizing Soros for "purchasing the Democratic Party". Err... who do you think is donating that $200 million to Bush's re-election bid? It's certainly not coming from thankful, flag-waving Iraqi citizens.

November 11, 2003

London Burning At The Top Of The Dial...

White House security officials are demanding an unprecedented level of security for El Busho's Nov 19 - 21 trip to London. While the Generallissimo shacks up at the Palace with Her Maj, the US officials want to keep protesters out of sight (and sound) by banning all marches and sealing off the city centre.

Scotland Yard officers say such dramatic measures have never been seen on British soil and risk inflaming protests even further. The Yard has cancelled all leave for the three-day visit and mobilised 3,800 officers for the four million UK pound security operation.

"We are on the highest alert that we have ever worked at," says the head of London Metropolitan Police. "We are working two-and-a-half times harder than we did at the very height of the Irish terror campaign."

As Ted Rall points out, Bush is also planning to further exploit September 11 by staging next year's Republican Convention in New York City, a town where 81% voted for Al Gore. Rall fears that protests could ignite uncontrollable riots.

It's ironic that the so-called "leaders of the free world" cannot move freely among their own citizens. But it is supremely ironic that they can only guarantee their own safety by restricting the very freedoms which they claim to champion.

November 09, 2003

Foreigners Being Driven Out Of Saudi Arabia - Al Quaeda's #1 Aim Is Succeeding

15 of the 9/11 bombers were from Saudi Arabia.

The Bush administration pulled out US troops and closed US military bases in Saudi Arabia, believing they would soon find a better Middle East "home" in Iraq.

Now Al Quaeda terrorists are taking on the corrupt and tyrannical Saudi royals. Stage One: drive out all the foreigners. Stage Two: popular revolution.

Osama would be well pleased. While Bush and his buddies chase oil in Iraq, the real terrorists are fighting to take control of the world's number one oil producer.
Is Premature Iraqification a Problem for You?

If so, you could be one of millions who suffer from the belief that El Busho's decision to let untrained Iraqi policemen take the bullets is really just a desperate effort to limit US casualties before the 2004 election.

Fortunately, there is a cure. Impeach Bush now!
"Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War"

That's the name of a new TV documentary by Robert Greenwald, which is now being distributed in the US. The show featues denunciations by two dozen interviewees, including a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago. All agree on one thing - Bush lied.

As the UK Independent explains, "an unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. "

For example, Mel Goodman, a former CIA analyst who now teaches at the National War College, says: "There was never a clear and present danger. There was never an imminent threat. Iraq - and we have very good intelligence on this - was never part of the picture of terrorism."

Veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern argues that the traditional role of the CIA has been "prostituted" and the CIA may never be the same. "Where is Bush going to turn to now? Where is his reliable source of information now Iraq is spinning out of control? He's frittered that away. And the profound indignity is that he probably doesn't even realise it."

Hmmn, lying to the US public. Isn't that an impeachment offence???

November 07, 2003

Inside The Oval Office

The following conversation is transcribed from a tape that was recently discovered in a garbage bin outside the White House. Two male voices can be heard in heated discussion. The identities of the speakers have not been confirmed.

VOICE #1: Whatever happened to the Air Force One scenario, George?
VOICE #2: The what?
VOICE #1: You remember! The terrorists on the plane. The big speech to the UN. The standing ovation...
VOICE #2: Was that me?
VOICE #1: No, sir... Harrison Ford.
VOICE #2: Oh yeah. That was cool. You guys wanted me to be like that, right?
VOICE #1: Right! Now, we've gotta get the nation re-focussed on that message. The situation in Iraq is -
VOICE #2: Can I get some terrorists on MY plane? Maybe I could dress up in the jumpsuit again and whack them with my light sabre. We could get FOX News on the plane with a camera, maybe even get Mariah Carey on board so I can save her butt and she'll be all, like "Oh, Ge-e-e-eorgey Boy!!"
VOICE #1: I'll get Colin to look into it, sir.
VOICE #2: No, not Powell! He's such a wimp. He never wants to fight anybody. Call Rummy instead. That guys a f$%*ing pit-bull, Karl.
VOICE #1: Whatever. Can we get back to Air Force One?
VOICE #2: What, now? But I just finished my big tour of Asia. I was hoping for some more time on the ranch. I'm whittling a stick.
VOICE #1: Not the plane, sir. The message. From the movie. You remember: "From now on, the United States will not tolerate terrorism.."
VOICE #2: Damn right we won't!
VOICE #1: That's the spirit! Now, what we need is another big speech like that. But this time we're talking Big Picture. This time we are talking about a global revolution -
VOICE #2: Communists!
VOICE #1: Not that kind of revolution, George. This is OUR revolution.
VOICE #2: Right. Rampant capitalism. Globalization for the shareholders of the Western world. Oil for me and my buddies.
VOICE #1: No! No! No!
VOICE #2: No?
VOICE #1: Well, I mean, yes, but not in the speech. Save that talk for the golf course. Listen, the -
VOICE #2: Is it nap time yet?
VOICE #1: No! Now listen! We're trying to bring the whole nation with us on this. In the trenches of World War I, through a two-front war in the 1940s, the difficult battles of Korea and Vietnam, and in missions of rescue and liberation on nearly every continent, Americans have amply displayed our willingness to sacrifice for liberty. . . .
VOICE #2: I'm really sleepy, Karl.
VOICE #1: In many nations in the Middle East, countries of great strategic importance, democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even have a choice in the matter?
VOICE #2: Zzzzzz.
VOICE #1: George!
VOICE #2: I'm sorry, Karl. Can't you just put it all in a nutshell for me?
VOICE #1: OK. Remember that "Project for the New American Century" thing that Wolfie and his friends showed you before the last election?
VOICE #2: Yup.
VOICE #1: Well, we're going with that. You're allowed to talk about it now.
VOICE #2: Cool. Why didn't you just say so in the first place?
VOICE #1: I thought you might want to know how we're going to try and sell it to the American people.
VOICE #2: Nah, just show me the cue cards.

Suddenly the tape is interrupted by loud static. Then a strange third voice is heard.

VOICE #3: I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.... Curse you both, you lying frauds!


VOICE #2: What was that?
VOICE #1: I don't know, but it sounded like the words of George Washington.
VOICE #2: Man, we've gotta do something about the security in this office.

November 06, 2003

Frauds R US

The final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan was quitly stripped of provisions that the US Senate had passed to penalize war profiteers who defraud American taxpayers.

Republican and Democratic Senate conferees consistently supported the provision, which had been unanimously accepted during Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the bill.

"Congress is about to send billions and billions of dollars to a place where there is no functioning government, under a plan with too little accountability and too few financial controls," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of the bill's authors. "That's a formula for mischief. We need strong disincentives for those who would defraud taxpayers, and removing this protection is another major blot on this bill."

A co-author, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), agreed: "I fail to understand how anyone can be opposed to prosecuting those who want to defraud and overcharge the United States government and the American taxpayers."

U.S. fraud statutes protect against waste of tax dollars at home, but none expressly prohibit war profiteering and none expressly confer extraterritorial jurisdiction overseas.
Culturally Sensitive?

As Colin Powell arrived for a two day visit to Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras, the US embassy in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, distributed a background memo for the media.

The memo described the country as a place where "democracy usually takes a back row to personal political interests" (wow! That couldn't happen in the USA, could it?).

The memo said, "the country crawls along as the second-poorest country in the hemisphere, after Haiti, battered by storms of nature, and of their own making, with little hope of things changing in the future." It said that wealthier Nicaraguans "prefer to dress in Ralph Lauren shirts, drive Ford SUVs [four-wheel-drives], watch American movies and when going out for a meal, brag that they go to [fast-food chain] TGI Friday's."

Talk about winning hearts and minds.

Out Of Touch?

The Christian Science Monitor suggests the US intelligence operation in Iraq is hampered by a lack of contacts on the ground. "The FBI has a large number of agents here, for example, investigating recent car bombings and the increasing rocket attacks. But the American prowess with high-tech surveillance and investigative wizardry is often useless in a country where records and phone service are in a shambles, and where low-tech person-to-person contact reigns."

"How are you going to find out if someone is rigging up a generator to be a rocket launcher?" says Adm. Stansfield Turner, former director of the CIA. "Not by a satellite photograph or intercept - you're going to find it because some Iraqi sees it and tells you. We're at a crossroads where, if we don't in the next few weeks persuade the Iraqi on the street that we're going to straighten things out for him, we won't get intelligence."

November 05, 2003

Sorry, but this image tagging is too much fun!!!

I love these guys' conclusion about how Bush has managed to avoid impeachment:

"It's simple: This country is fucked. "
Here's Looking At YOU, Ronnie...

Some clever bugger has made a documentary which shows Ron and Nancy Reagan, warts and all. Asked about AIDS, Ronnie apparently says "They that live in sin shall die in sin." Nancy pleads with him but he refuses to say more on the subject. Certainly nothing about children in Africa who are denied access to expensive US medicines that could save their lives.

The documentary was scheduled for CBS but they have pulled the plug after extreme pre-screening outrage from die-hard Republicans across the US. As most people know, Reagan is now suffering from Alzheimers Disease. But is that the real reason why the show is causing such controversy? Matt Drudge claims there is a scene where Reagan says, "I am the antichrist." Now surely that must be of passing interest to the religious right?

Here's a thought to all those who have sought to have the show canned: would't it be better to see it yourself before you start screaming? Are you afraid of the truth? If Reagan's foibles are just the result of Alzheimers, surely that will become clear, sooner or later. And if that happens, any any looney Democrats looking to score points will end up shooting themseves in the foot, right?

Matt Drudge expects that the show will be screened on Showtime anyway, so the truth, as they say, will out.

(P.S. - yes, Virginia. There is an image tag! Cool, eh?)

November 04, 2003

US and Them

The international community has not abandoned the US in Iraq, it has been driven away. The US would not allow UN weapons inspections more time to search for WMDs because they said Saddam represented an "imminent threat". Now they have searched for 6 months on their own and still found no WMDs, yet they refuse to acknowledge their error. An apology to the UN would go a long way towards restoring US credibility, especially if it was accompanied by the resignation or impeachment of G. W. Bush.

The US asked foreign nations to contribute troops and money to help rebuild Iraq, yet it refused to allow foreign nations any control of the process or the funds involved. It has also refused non-US companies any chance of bidding on the extraordinarily large contracts being offered to rebuild Iraq. Instead, companies like Halliburton and Bechel, with close ties to the Bush administration, are raking in the money.

Saddam Hussein was heavily in debt to France and Russia, for example, yet the US is not offering them any chance to recoup their losses. That will teach them to embarrass us in the UN! Loyal lapdogs like Britain and Australia, Poland and Spain, are grudgingly tosses a few bones to chew on. Obviously it wasn't enough for los Espanyoles - as mortars fall on the US HQ, the Spaniards are pulling out their staff before they are killed.

Over the past month, the Bush neo-cons have given up their efforts at contriving belated international support for their invasion. Instead, they are focussing on "Iraqification", media coinage for the building up of Iraqi police and border forces so they can help stem US casualties and allow US troops to start returning home before the next election.

A few months ago, US officials were saying that it will take years for Iraqi police to be trained and operational. Now the number of Iraqis ready to patrol the streets has jumped from 60,000 to 85,000 to 100,000 within a few hours, depending which press conference you were attending.

It sounds like a last resort measure and it sounds like more wishful thinking from the White House.

As the Washington Post editorial puts it today, the latest Iraqi recruits will want to know what they are fighting for. "If the answer seems to be a dominating U.S. occupation regime, as opposed to a rapidly emerging Iraqi sovereignty, the commitment of our new comrades in arms may not be much greater than that of the international agencies and allies who lately have been slipping away."

November 01, 2003

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

As the US invasion of Iraq descends into chaos, the childish and uninformed assumptions of the neo-cons who planned all this madness many years ago becomes all the more obvious. This ignorance is symptomatic of a widespread US ignorance of the outside world, an ignorance which seems to have grown steadily since WWII.

After September 11th, US papers were running headlines like, "Why do they hate us?" Sadly, the US public really had no idea. Unfortunately, most of them still do not. Worse yet, neither do their elected politicians and civil servants.

It's bad enough that Rumsfeld confused Afghanistan with Iraq (I am sure he has worked out the difference by now, though US policy differs little between the two: see below). But the following day, when Rumsfeld hosted a state dinner with the president of Romania, dinner tables were decorated with RUSSIAN flags. Romania was a former communist state subject to Russian domination for decades. To confuse the two nations is embarrassingly stupid. Obviously, the Romanian public was not impressed.

How on earth can the US neo-cons have serious pretensions of global empire? It's bad enough when half their citizens can't even draw a decent map of the USA, let alone Canada or Mexico. But the neo-cons' arrogant quest for global domination is itself born of the same ignorance. These are children who grew up with bedtime stories of Reds under the beds, communists planning invasions from Nicaragua, Cuba and Chile, and evil bad-guys lurking on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

These ignorant neo-con turds all need a good, long holiday abroad. Anywhere will do, even England. Just as long as they are far away from the White House.

And, in case you missed it:

Rummy Confuses Afghanistan With Iraq

From the website of the US department of defence:

Journalist: Do you think that warlordism is something that should be factored into Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld: Well, I don't know quite what it means in this case. If you're talking about militias existing in the country, clearly, militias have existed in parts of that country, not least of which are the Kurdish peshmerga forces. And other elements have had militias...

Journalist: Sir ...

Rumsfeld: Just a minute.

Journalist: Afghanistan, sir, not Iraq.

Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm sorry. Go to Afghanistan. I'm sorry. I was thinking of Iraq. No wonder I couldn't understand it.

Journalist: I thought you might ...

Rumsfeld: I'm sorry. Yeah, I had the wrong country.

Journalist: They're close!

Rumsfeld: Yes, they are. (Chuckles)

Israel Army Chief Criticizes Sharon

As the Guardian reports, 'Israel's army chief has exposed deep divisions between the military and Ariel Sharon by branding the government's hardline treatment of Palestinian civilians counter-productive and saying that the policy intensifies hatred and strengthens the "terror organisations".

Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya'alon also told Israeli journalists in an off-the-record briefing that the army was opposed to the route of the "security fence" through the West Bank. The government also contributed to the fall of the former Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, by offering only "stingy" support for his attempts to end the conflict, he said.

Gen Ya'alon had apparently hoped his anonymous criticisms would strengthen the army's voice, which has been subordinated to the views of the intelligence services in shaping policy.

But the comments were so devastating that he was swiftly revealed as the source. '


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