December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year


Anyone with any brains is not reading the news at the moment, let alone this stupid blog. They are busy enjoying a well-deserved (perhaps) holiday, seeing their family etc. Such is the life of a modern day wage slave.

The obstinate fools who insist on reading the news are greeted with countless horror stories which the powers that be leak out while nobody is watching. It's a great time of year to tie up loose ends.

Take the Haneef affair. No heads will roll, even though the judicial arm of government has found it was a massive cock-up. Rudd doesn't want to know, the AFP have aleady "moved on", yadda yadda.

Who gives a shit about some loser from India anyway?

Same with David Hicks. Sure, he's free now but the cops can frame him for anything they like in a few hours, and who is going to believe that crazy terrorist Hicks? You sure you wanna talk to the media, boy? Go ahead - make my day.

Or what about this crap? Condi Rice says history will vindicate the Bush administration. Sure it will, if we keep going the way we are going! What's Obama gonna do about it? If he tries to bring the criminals to jail (not that he WANTS to, of course) they just launch a deadly wave of (e.g.) anthrax attacks that kill a million people, and everyone starts talking about what a great job the Bush people did of protecting Teh Fatherland.

And I guess you saw that little story about how US troops won't really leave Iraq, they will just be renamed "training forces", etc etc. As if that wasn't obvious.

But did you see this little nugget from TPM? The US real estate market is about to crash into oblivion because the banks think the Federal Reserve emergency money is actually intended as capital to launch aggressive takeovers of other banks. You read that right. And there are no strings attached, of course. And who cares about those naughty real estate agents anyway? They have been making fortunes over and over every few months for a decade.

Oh, but waiting a minute, they will just take the money and run, which means the real losers will be...???

*sigh*

The Kleptocracy are still stuffing the loot into their bags, the alarms are ringing like crazy, but no cops are coming because they are manning the roadblocks that stop any concerned citizens from seeing what's going on.

Meanwhile, the polar ice caps are still melting, the seas are still rising - and your taxpayer money is being spent on keeping the automobile giants afloat! Yes, the guys who bought out patents like the orbital engine so they could suppress the competition. The guys who colluded with the oil companies for so long. The guys who convinced everybody they needed cars that could do 360 kmph in 50 zones, and SUVs for the inner city traffic jams. Those guys.

Happy Christmas, dear reader, whoever you are (yes, I know it's only you Bukko). I hope 2009 is a year when Intelligence stocks (not the CIA version) will bounce back from near oblivion, but the indicators are not good. Teh Stupid still rules, and the angry mobs are likely to talk it up as the world hurtles even further into the abyss.

Such is life.

PS: hat-tip whatsisface for the cartoon.

December 22, 2008

How Did I Get Here, Mommy?

When the chairman of the Fed told Bush that he would need $700 billion just to keep the US economy from tanking, Bush apparently took a deep breath and said:
"How did we get here?"
You have to wonder whether he really didn't know the answer to that question, or whether it was more of a rhetorical musing, such as "Oh my god, what have I done?"

Did Bush really believe the hype about endless free markets producing endless bounty for everyone? Didn't he notice that the people who most ardently championed that philosophy were the Ken Lays, the Murdochs, the multi-billionaires who were screwing the system every inch of the way? Was he really so lacking in curiosity that he just took their "trickle-down" promises at face value?

Or did he know full well that this was the scam of the century, and that the perpetrators' need for his camera-facing role as an abettor was the only reason he was ever allowed anywhere near the White House?

How thick is that bubble he lives in? And how thick is that self-created bubble of self-delusion inside his head?

December 21, 2008

Nothing To See Here, Folks

At midnight tonight, the control order on David Hicks will expire, and he will again become a free man for all intents and purposes.

Hick's father Terry, who finally got to meet John Howard even if it was by accident, says his son will be focussing on rehab. It's now been confirmed for all intents and purposes that the Howard government was given video-taped evidence of Hick's torture.
Details of the faxed document sent from the US embassy on April 4, 2002, were obtained under Freedom of Information legislation. The AFP has refused to release the letter, saying the information in it was provided by an overseas agency on the condition it not be passed on.

AFP officers and ASIO agents travelled to Guantanamo Bay several times to question Hicks and Mr Habib.

The Washington Post reported this year that the Bush administration had in 2002 and 2003 advised all foreign governments it would videotape the interrogation of their nationals.

Documents obtained by the Post show identical cables sent to foreign governments, which read: "The United States will videotape and sound record the interviews between representatives of your government and the detainee(s) named above ... "

The CIA has admitted possessing interrogation tapes that do not involve US officials. It is understood the tapes were forwarded to the CIA from countries that conducted interrogations of terrorist suspects under the US rendition program.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament still has not passed a law legitimizing the presence of foreign troops beyond this year. Aside from the US and UK, who have pledge to remove troops by July 2009, the only countries with troops remaining in Iraq are El Salvador, Romania, Estonia and... Australia.

Meanwhile, another mysterious double cable cut off the coast of Egypt.

December 18, 2008

George Tenet The Anti-Semite

I guess we shouldn't be too surprised to learn that George Tenet wrote off his neoconservative colleagues in the Bush administration as a bunch of "Jews" who were "setting him up."

But it's interesting that he did it drunk on Scotch in Saudi Prince Bandar's pool.

I've been repeatedly banned from supposedly "progressive" leftwing Web sites for pointing out the same thing while fully sober.

Some of the comments at HuffPo are interesting...
This is news? Oi vey! He didn't mean anything, he was just drunk. Anyway, he's a Greek schmuck. Let's Move On...

December 17, 2008

Nihilism

Sure, Raimondo gets some things wrong, but this is right:
The shoe-wielding Iraqi television reporter, one Muntadar al-Zeidi, managed to sum up, in a single gesture, how much of the world feels about the 43rd president of the United States – including Americans.
Reacting to suggestions that al-Zeidi will face court he says "the very idea that Iraq is a place where the rule of law exists is nothing but a very bad joke."

Amen.

The UK Independent says the explosion of viral video about the incident confirms that Bush's presidency is ending in humiliation:
So Muntazer al-Zaidi has been arrested, and could face several years in jail, despite the fact that he's supported by vast numbers of demonstrating Sunnis and Shias, in a country that has been "given back to the Iraqis". The man should be hailed Man of the Year. And if politicians really want to reconnect politics with the people, his example should be copied.
"The people"? Who are these people you speak of???

Today I got an email from a lady named Ann Paterson who did a university thesis on "Public Relations and the new agenda-setters -developing relationships with bloggers". The main aim of her thesis seems to be working out a way for the PR industry to take advantage of bloggers' growing credibility. After responding to her initial enquiry about why I blog, I am quoted in the report saying that:
"political blogs are important today because the media is failing to do its job properly. This [is] partly because they are unable (for legal reasons) to say the things that bloggers can say (particularly those of us who write under a pseudonym). But it is also because the media today is tightly controlled by the corporate elite, who also bankroll all the major Western political parties."
So will Ms Paterson's friends in the PR industry be approaching me with lucrative financial offers?

Hey, Bukko! You should try Sorbent Toilet Tissue! It's really soft on your fat arse!

Oi! WP! You oughta get yourself down to Cancun for a holiday! I can give you the address of a little estancia where they really know how to treat angry, alienated, bloggers with TLC!

Ha ha ha! Sorry, Ms Paterson, but that's the entire extent of my much-vaunted powers these days. I'm not even sure that WP is reading any more. Why would he, when I've already quit the blogging business a dozen times and barely been able to string together a coherent thought for six months.

Now let's go take a look at the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, a Liverpool boy who was gunned down on his way home from football practice:
Like the killing of the toddler, James Bulger, in the same part of the country in 1993, the death provoked national shock, as Rhys was named the youngest victim of gang violence in Britain. But the truth was that, unlike the Bulger killing, such a tragedy was long on the cards.

Violence on the sprawling housing estates of Croxteth and Norris Green had been growing for years before Rhys got caught in the cross-fire. Police had recorded 80 incidents of vandalism and violence linked to two rival gangs in the area. There had even been two killings, in 2004 and 2006. These shootings made little impact on the national consciousness because the victims were gang members and older.

Sean Mercer, who was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment for Rhys's killing, was well known to the police too. He had been stopped on scores of occasions by the authorities and given an anti-social behaviour order for harassing staff at Croxteth Sports Centre. Mercer was also only 16 years old when he set out from his home with a gun to kill a rival.

Yet Mercer was no exception in his youth. Several of his fellow gang members, found guilty this week of helping him to evade arrest, were all teenagers. So we have here a picture of rampant criminality in which the gang members are young enough to be in school, and yet have easy access to firearms. This was the lethal milieu from which this murderer sprang.

But there are deeper social problems here too. It is true that many local Croxteth residents rushed to pass on Mercer's name to the police when Rhys' death hit the headlines. But the manner in which the immediate estate on which Mercer lived closed ranks to help him evade justice, despite the horrendous crime that had been committed, was disturbing. Friends of Mercer helped him destroy physical evidence linking him to the killing. He was given an alibi. It took eight months of police surveillance and the testimony of a disaffected gang member to build the case necessary to put Mercer on trial.

For several residents of this estate, defending one of their own was apparently regarded as more important than bringing the killer of an 11-year-old boy to justice. Why? One of the police officers who worked on the case has noted that "many gang members are the third generation of families who have never worked. Crime is all they know and so have no normality to be rehabilitated into."
Is anyone else seeing the parallels to George W. Bush's criminal administration?

Or is it just me, as usual.

*sigh*

The News Sucks

Some stories just break your heart.

The solution, obviously, is to stop reading the news.

Or not.

Nobody Could Have Guessed...

That entire US government departments were riddled with corruption. It's not just the SEC, of course, but how far down this rabbit hole do the people of the USA really want to go?

Failing To See? Or Failing To Say?

Asking the question, Is George W Bush the worst ever US president?, a Guardian UK journalist speaks the unspeakable truth that his colleagues in the US media do not dare to say:
If the foremost duty of a president, as US commander-in-chief, is to protect the American people from murderous attack by foreign enemies, then Bush clearly failed momentously on 11 September 2001. He failed to see al-Qaida coming and failed lamentably to stop them.
OK, let's ignore the "failed to see" thing for now... The UK journo then avoids saying another even more unmentionable truth in the very next sentence:
Yet much the same could be said of the otherwise admired Roosevelt, who was caught napping by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour in 1941.
"Caught napping"? Does he even hint at the vaguest idea of a False Flag event? No, and it's all downhill from there...
Bush's personal behaviour has been exemplary compared to many incumbents, and notably that of his immediate predecessor, the intern-challenged Clinton.
Sigh. Yes, we all know a blowjob is worse that a million deaths.

He goes on to conclude that Bush was NOT the worst President ever. You have to wonder how much these guys get paid, and by whom.

Deny, Deny, Deny... and then Admit but Shrug Off

Cheney was key in clearing CIA interrogation tactics
Reporting from Washington -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open indefinitely.

Cheney's remarks on Guantanamo appear to put him at odds with President Bush, who has expressed a desire to close the prison, although the decision is expected to be left to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Cheney's comments also mark the first time that he has acknowledged playing a central role in clearing the CIA's use of an array of controversial interrogation tactics, including a simulated drowning method known as waterboarding.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.

Asked whether he still believes it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney said: "I do."

His comments come on the heels of disclosures by a Senate committee showing that high-level officials in the Bush administration were intimately involved in reviewing and approving interrogation methods that have since been explicitly outlawed and that have been condemned internationally as torture.

Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney said, the CIA "in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

Waterboarding involves strapping a prisoner to a tilted surface, covering his face with a towel and dousing it to simulate the sensation of drowning.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has said that the agency used the technique on three Al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003. But the practice was discontinued when lawyers from the Department of Justice and other agencies began backing away from their opinions endorsing its legality.

Cheney has long defended the technique. But he has not previously disclosed his role in pushing to give the CIA such authority.

Cheney's office is regarded as the most hawkish presence in the Bush administration, pushing the White House toward aggressive stances on the invasion of Iraq and the wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

Asked when the Guantanamo Bay prison would be shut down, Cheney said, "I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror." He went on to say that "nobody can specify" when that might occur, and likened the use of the detention facility to the imprisonment of Germans during World War II.

"We've always exercised the right to capture the enemy and hold them till the end of the conflict," Cheney said.

The administration's legal case for holding detainees indefinitely has been eroded by a series of court rulings. Obama has pledged to close the facility, which still holds 250 prisoners.

Cheney's remarks are the latest in a series of interviews granted by Bush and senior officials defending their decisions as they prepare to leave office. Bush recently said his main regret was that U.S. spy agencies had been so mistaken about Iraq's alleged weapons programs. Cheney and the Bush administration have been accused of "cherry-picking" intelligence to support going to war with Iraq.

Cheney said that those mistakes didn't matter, and that the U.S. invasion was justified by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's ability to reestablish destructive weapons programs. The vice president brushed off a series of findings questioning that view, including a 2006 Senate report concluding that Hussein lacked a "coherent effort" to develop nuclear weapons and had only a "limited capability" for chemical weapons.

"This was a bad actor and the country's better off, the world's better off, with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision in spite of the fact that the original [intelligence] was off in some of its major judgments," he said.

December 16, 2008

With Knowledge Comes Responsibility

MichaelMoore.com
Mr Shepherd said he chose to seek asylum in Germany for several reasons: he was stationed in Germany when he decided to desert and couldn't find a way back to the US.

Germany was also significant, he said, for the historical context of the Nuremberg trials, which established the principle "that everyone, especially a soldier, is responsible for their own actions."

When asked why he joined the military in 2004, when the issue of the war's illegality was already known, Mr Shepherd said:

"I struggled through life, twice I was homeless. I didn't have access to the materials that I did when I was in Germany(...) when you look at the media in the United States, it's completely different than what it is in Europe. It's always slanted to make everything good, so you keep the war movement going."

Mr Shepherd said it was the duty of all American citizens to stand up to put an out-of-control government back on the right path and that he didn't see himself as a traitor.

December 15, 2008

Distilling The Essence

Beautiful prose:
For years now, everyone from Pat Buchanan to hybrid-powered hippies have been warning that America would suddenly find itself on a historical downslope from having been too reckless, too profligate, and too arrogant as an unopposed superpower. Even decent patriotic folk were starting to worry that America was suffering from a classic case of Celebrity Personality Disorder, becoming a nation of Tom Cruise party-dicks dancing in our socks over every corner and every culture in the world, lip-synching about freedom as we plunged headfirst into as much risky business as we could mismanage. And now, bleeding money from endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're a sick giant hooked on ever-pricier doses of oil paid for with a currency few people want anymore. In the history books of the future, I would wager that this very spot in Tskhinvali will be remembered as both the geographic highwater mark of the American empire, and the place where it all started to fall apart.
You have to wonder why it is not on the cover of the New York Times, don't you?

December 14, 2008

Told You So

From David Sirota:
Please, forgive me for saying it. I know it's a tad annoying, but it has to be said to America's ruling class in this humble column space. Because if it's not said here you can bet it won't be said anywhere else in the media, and it needs to be said somewhere on behalf of the millions of citizens who were right.

We told you so.
He's talking about the economy, but he could just as easily be talking about Iraq or Afghanistan or CIA secret gulags or 911 or a host of other issues.

The true nature of the Bush administration has always been obscured to the public by a compliant media and secretive officialdom, but now it is revealed as basically a Kleptocracy, built to steal every cent for the ultra-rich. Everyone is now asking where all the money went, but it's long been channelled off-shore.

The mega-rich today are not bound by national boundaries and the people of the USA will never see that money again, unless they happen to take a holiday in Sint Marten, Bermuda or the Seychelles.

The same thing has been happening elsewhere, of course, to a greater or lesser extent.

So now what? Do we queue up for handouts from these mega-rich criminals? Do we let their money keep controlling our governments around the world?

There has to be some kind of a popular revolution on the way. Hopefully it is a peaceful one, but probably it won't be. And it could take decades to arrive - I might not see it in my lifetime, and I'm only 44.

I think there is a line in Lord of The Rings where a huge, defining battle is looming and somebody cries out, "Pity the man who has lived to see this day!"

At least some of us, including those of us who "Told You So" long ago, already CAN see what's going on today (whether we choose to "do" anything about it or not). Millions of others still have not woken up to the grim reality.

The waking up process is not very pleasant - a bit like Keanu Reeves emerging alone and shocked from his mechanical egg, soaked in goo...

"So Saddam never had WMDs or ties to terrorists? It was just an excuse to grab the oil and control the Middle East? But that means we've murdered a million Iraqis... for nothing!"

"911 was a false flag attack? Really? But... why would they do that to us? And why didn't the media say something?"

"The anthrax killers were on the government payroll and protected by the head of the FBI? But that means they are still out there, and could strike at any time..."

"They are monitoring my phone calls and my emails? But that means we're already living in a Stalinist state, an Orwellian nightmare..."

It's past time to draw some hard conclusions about the state of the world.

December 08, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Worship False Gods

Just Kill Me Now

Rudd hails new A-Span TV network
Sky News, Foxtel and Austar have joined together to launch A-Span, a
new public affairs television network and an initiative of the Federal
Government's 2020 Summit.
Teh Democracy from Teh Murdoch! With Teh Taxpayer support! No wonder Kev looks like he's on drugs.

December 02, 2008

November 29, 2008

Imagine All The People

Living life in peace...
Imagine how much suffering might have been avoided if George W. Bush and the other engineers and enablers of the invasion of Iraq had been aware that severe personal consequences would await those who start the killing.

Unfortunately, the likelihood that any of these people will ever face trial for their crimes seems inversely proportional to the enormous potential for positive change such trials would represent.

But holding aggressors personally responsible for aggression would fulfill the vision of the post-World War II Nuremberg Charter, a landmark document for which the United States, ironically, is largely responsible.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at the Nuremberg Tribunal, stated that the intent of holding powerful Nazis responsible was not just victor’s revenge but a desire to establish a precedent against aggressive war.

“Let me make clear,” Jackson said, “that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

Jackson added, “This trial represents mankind’s desperate effort to apply the discipline of the law to statesmen who have used their powers of state to attack the foundations of the world’s peace and to commit aggression against the rights of their neighbors.”

Ending the war in Iraq in a truly responsible way would uphold Jackson’s principle and could result in a significant step toward the ultimate goal of the United Nations and all men and women of good will: a world without war.

That really would be change we can believe in.

November 28, 2008

Did We Win?

Jonathan Steel in The Guardian examines the latest US-Iraq agreement:
It is remarkable for the number and scope of the concessions that the Iraqi government has managed to get from the Bush administration. They amount to a series of U-turns that spell the complete defeat of the neoconservative plan to turn Iraq into a pro-western ally and a platform from which to project US power across the Middle East.

The title gives the game away - Agreement on the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organisation of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq. Remember how Bush (and his ally, Gordon Brown) constantly rejected any "artificial timetables" for pulling out the troops. Everything had to be "conditions-based", meaning that no dates could be given in advance since all depended on whether Iraq's own forces were ready to fill the gap. It was an elastic formula that allowed Washington to delay a withdrawal for ever.

That has gone by the board. The agreement stipulates that "all US forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31 2011". More remarkably, all combat troops will leave Iraqi towns and villages and go back to base by the end of June next year. Pause for a moment and take that in. Six years and three months after the invasion, Iraqi streets will be a US-free zone again.

Iraq will have a veto over all US military operations. A clause added at the last minute after pressure from Iran says that Iraqi land, sea and air may not be used as a launch pad or transit point for attacks on other countries. The Iraqi government eagerly took up the point after US helicopters flew into Syria and attacked a compound there last month, claiming it was a base from which foreign fighters entered Iraq. Iraq joined Syria in protesting against the raid.

Under the withdrawal agreement, no Iraqi can be arrested by US forces except with permission from Iraqi authorities, and every Iraqi who is arrested in these circumstances must be handed to Iraqi forces within 24 hours. The tens of thousands of detainees in US custody must either be released or turned over to the Iraqis immediately. US troops may not enter or search any Iraqi house without an Iraqi judge's warrant, except if they are conducting a joint combat operation with the Iraqi military.

US contractors - the armed mercenaries in their SUVs whom Iraqis hate even more than the American military - will lose their immunity and be subject to Iraqi law, a development that is already prompting many security firms to start pulling out. US troops who rape Iraqi women or commit any other crime while off duty and off base will have to stand trial in Iraqi courts.

The deal gives Iraq's national resistance almost everything it fought for.
Of course, signing an agreement is one thing. Abiding by it is another.

But it's clear the US public, at least, has no more stomach for this war.

In other words, I think we might have won. Time will tell.

A Brief History Of US Political Netizenship

Citizenship 2.0

PS: When I say "brief", I mean crap. But I was taken with the idea that the wingnuts got in first with Drudge et al. I wasn't really on-board back then, but you could see what was happening by the way the media grabbed onto these "bloggers" as a reliable source of news that they themselves could not report (mostly because it was not true). Thereafter, rightwing blogger fantasies and lies became the norm - they never even bothered with reality, just snark and talking points.

The leftwing bloggers OTOH held each other to task - at least to some meaningful extent - as far as facts, science and truth were concerned.

Therein lies a tale.

Chagos: Pilger Stays On The Story

   The Corruption That Makes Unpeople Of An Entire Nation:
Since 2000, no fewer than nine high court judgments have described these British government actions as "illegal", "outrageous" and "repugnant". One ruling cited Magna Carta, which says no free man can be sent into exile. In desperation, the Blair government used the royal prerogative – the divine right of kings – to circumvent the courts and parliament and to ban the islanders from even visiting the Chagos. When this, too, was overturned by the high court, the government was rescued by the law lords, of whom a majority of one (three to two) found for the government in a scandalously inept, political manner. In the weasel, almost flippant words of Lord Hoffmann, "the right of abode is a creature of the law. The law gives it and the law takes it away." Forget Magna Carta. Human rights are in the gift of three stooges doing the dirty work of a government, itself lawless.

As the official files show, the Chagos conspiracy and cover-up involved three prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers, including those who approved "the plan". But elite corruption is unspeakable in Britain.


Pilger points out that the root cause of this tragedy is ideological, but it's not just the UK government that clings to the imperial fantasy of a semi-divine right to rule over distant peoples - the people of the UK firmly embrace it too.

$5,000,000,000,000.00 and counting...

Crisis has cost five trillion dollars
Five trillion dollars have been lost in the global financial crisis, the head of the Davos economic forum said as he announced a record presence of world leaders at the conference in January.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will give the opening speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort on January 28 where the theme will be Shaping The Post Crisis World, said its founder Klaus Schwab.

The Swiss economist, on a visit to Paris, said: "As it stands now, about five trillion dollars has been lost in the financial crisis and now has to be reconstituted" by governments.

The forum had forecast the crisis in the financial system in its annual risk report at the start of the year.

You see? They tried to warn us!

November 27, 2008

What If?

This is, at least potentially, the best piece of news I have seen in a long time:
“What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking,” Mr. Obama said, speaking at his third news conference here in three days. “But understand where the vision for change comes from first and foremost: It comes from me.”
What if, what if, what if....?

What if you always had your own ideas about what needed to be done, but recognized that you could never do it on your own (as I and countless other bloggers have fruitlessly tried to do)?

What if you allied yourself with the powers that be purely as a marriage of convenience, till you were able to ...?

NAHHHH! I don't believe it either!

But what if...?

What if Paul Volker is just there to clean out the trash?

What if all those other "experienced" Obama appointments are just there to steady the markets, seize control of the various departments that have been decimated, and then hand over control to new appointments when the time is right?

What is this is the revolution right here? Not so much because that's what Obama planned, but because that's what the times demand, and because Obama - for all his failings - is smart enough to read the writing on the wall?

OK, Bukko - you have your comments back! Just be warned, nobody but you and me is here any more. And I'm not even sure about me...!

UPDATE:
"I've already told Obama: On Nov. 5, I'm coming after you. It's not you the person, it's the policies of this country. And as long as you are presiding over policies that grind God's people into the earth, I'm coming after you."
-- Rev. Jeremiah Wright

November 25, 2008

Still Playing Trickle-Down Economics

    You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet                    : Information Clearing House - ICH
So why would GMAC want to become a bank holding company if General Motors is headed for the chopping block? Could it be that the government is working out a secret deal with management to put the company through Chapter 11 (reorganization) just so it can crush the union and eliminate their pension and health care benefits in one fell swoop?

You bet. Car workers will be reduced to slave wages just like they are in sunny Alabama where sharecropping has moved indoors. And--no surprise--the Democrats are right on board with this labor-busting charade. The auto industry isn't going to be shut down. That's just more fear-mongering like the blather about martial law and WMD. Detroit is going to be transformed into a workers gulag; Siberia on Lake Michigan, which is why Paulson is withholding the $25 billion. It's plain old class warfare.

$7.76 Trillion: Heckuva Job, George

Bloomberg.com: Exclusive
The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.

November 24, 2008

At 00:17

I learned the truth in 2003

That politics was meant for professionals only

And Op-Ed authors with resumes

Who had an agenda to essay.

The Pulitzer Prizes I never knew

The FAUX News charades that they spewed

Were spent on faces more beautiful

After 8 long years I've learned the truth.



And those of us with ugly ID's

Lacking Teh Credibility

Desperately remain alone

Repenting good links left unknown

That echo through our memories

And call to say "Come dance with me."

And murmur vague obscenities

The Net isn't all it seems

To hopeful teens.



A blogger beset by fancy clowns

Whose links I never could put down

Said prosecute the ones who've served

They oughta get what they deserve.

The rich relationed fat VP

Who found his way to what he needed

With a guarantee of immunity

And no accountability

Is elderly.



Remember those who fought the evil

Battling ideas they thought primaeval

Shrouded in integrity, dubious to you and me

Their financiers will gape at you

In dumb surprise now that payments due

Exceed Accounts Received

In treasury.



To those of us who knew the pain

Of accountability moments that never came

And those whose comments were never seen

Bouncing on the media trampoline.

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling commenters like you and me.



We all watch the news and when we dare

We imagine futures bereft of despair

Inventing presidents on their own

Who address war crimes very well known

They call to say come vote for me

Forget those sad obscenities

Noted by commenters like you and me

At 00:17.


(for Good Celery)

November 21, 2008

Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out



Watch closely. They are not just avoiding a handshake. They are barely even making eye contact.

Gordon Brown just nods curtly at him. Angela Merkel, like most others, looks past him to greet the next leader. Spain's PM just hangs his head and stares at the floor. And was that Berlusconi standing third in line? Et tu, Silvio?

By this standard, Kevin Rudd's recent handshake was a diplomatic coup (or should that be a faux pas?).

Update: The Bush apologist media explained this away by saying Bush was looking for his mark on the floor, so he'd know where to stand. But everybody else seemed capable of finding their spot quite easily, and they were all filing on stage in the right order anyway. I only add this update because it's worth noting how entrenched this madness is, even as this stage.

And yeah, the link in that last para is to HuffPo, who should know better. But they have been leading the charge for Obama, so ... Well, you know. Sigh.

November 05, 2008

Obama Wins

I called in back on January 7th:
I think Obama will go all the way, and I'm not sure that is a bad
thing. Sure, he has sucked up to the pro-Israeli lobby and he is being
very careful what he says about a whole host of issues including
withdrawal from Iraq. But as with Rudd, there is a sense that nobody
really knows for sure what an Obama Administration might be like.
Hillary Clinton said voting for Obama was like crossing your fingers
and rolling the dice - but I think that's exactly what the people of
the USA want to do right now. What have they got to lose, right?
And special mention to Bukko for his perceptive comment at the time, which I have often quoted:
That's it! "Obama, the black Rudd"...!
Yes, yes, I know he's still part of the establishment and all that. But it's a step in the right direction, and I feel good about it. I fully expect to be disappointed by President Barack Hussein Obama, but I'm hopeful I could be surprised.

There's more to write, but I am just too tired.

UPDATE:

On second thoughts, waking up to a new day, maybe there is no more to say. And maybe that's a good thing. My work here is done. It should have been done four years ago, but never mind. And of course there is more work to be done, but not here on this blog.

I am closing this blog to comments, and calling it a day. It's been a hell of a ride. Thanks again to all, take care and farewell.

November 03, 2008

24 Hours To Go

And (surprisingly, perhaps) still no surprise.

FAUX News is quoting a WSJ poll saying the gap is narrowing. Does the surprise come when the election results are tallied?

Or did the fat cats in the corporate boxes long ago decide to cut their losses and let their B team win for a while?

Right now, early morning USA time, the intertubes seem strangely quiet. I think everyone is wrecked.

I know I am, and the world is. Just six percent of Australians think that eight years of Bush has been good for the world. I wonder what their average income is, or their average IQ?

Perhaps I should have more to say right now, and perhaps I will have something to say later. But right now, the early morning silence seems as delightfully pleasant as the late evening quiet here in Australia. Peace is a beautiful thing.

How To Vote

Tips from the Brad blog:
What to do if it happens to you:

* Call poll supervisors to observe the problem.
* Fill out a problem report.
* Refuse to vote on that machine.
* Request that the machine be taken out of service.
* Get a serial number of the machine if possible (may be difficult in many cases).
* Tell other voters in line which machine it was and that they should NOT vote on that machine!
* Report it to county/town election office.
* Report it to the Secretary of State.
* Call local reporters and tell them the story.
* Call voter problem hotlines (eg. 866-MYVOTE1 and 866-OUR-VOTE) and report it.
* Contact bloggers and Election Integrity websites.
* Raise holy hell.

REMINDER: Please bring a video camera/cell phone camera when you go to vote so you can document these problems on video tape, and then upload them to VideoTheVote.org and YouTube!

"Sprinting Towards The Finish Line"

This was me at Glenn Greenwald today:
This sentence from Glenn really nails it:
"The most important aspect of this Tuesday's election is to finalize their humiliating repudiation and to bury them for what they've done."
Exactly right. There has been zero accountability throughout this administration. The US public missed the opportunity to hold them accountable in 2004 and the whole world has been paying the (very high) price ever since.

Obama's win really needs to be a massive, humiliating landslide defeat that will bury the GOP as it now exists.

And then, after he wins, he needs to vigorously pursue criminal prosecutions. I fully expect Bush to issue blanket pardons for everybody, but that shouldn't stop Obama pushing for justice. Of course the media will decry this as a partisan witch-hunt that sets a dangerous precedent, but there are plenty of voices in the media who should also be investigated.

When it began to become obvious a year ago that Bush's "political capital" was all spent, he began promising reporters that he would be "sprinting towards the finish line". He should have mobs of angry voters chasing him across that line, down the road, and all the way to Paraguay.

There should also be radical job cuts in newsrooms. Papers like Wapo and NYT have been in a state of virtual civil war for years, with GOP propagandists on one side and decent reporters increasingly marginalized. Those decent journos should be demanding the dismissal of their partisan hack colleagues and editors.

If Obama cannot achieve that kind of massive, permanent change, the rats will be crawling all over the kitchen again in another four or eight years. Dick Cheney's embarrassing endorsement of McCain was actually a vote for Sarah Palin 2012.

Get out there and vote, America!
Of course I do not really expect Obama to pursue hard-nosed investigations into Bush's cabal, nor do I expect the US media to be reformed. But this is what "needs" to be done. And while Obama is investigating Bush, others should be investigating the Dems.

It won't happen, but that's no reason for not saying that it SHOULD happen.

November 02, 2008

Where Are They Now?

Delicious stuff from Jim Lobe:
After Georgetown University decided against renewing his contract, a brief stay as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and his efforts to get a post at the Brookings Institution came to naught, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith appears to have found a new home at the Hudson Institute, another predominantly neo-conservative “think tank” that tends to lie in the shadow of the much more media-prominent American Enterprise Institute (AEI)...

Hudson, of course, was the first refuge of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby after his 2005 indictment for perjury, but he apparently left after his conviction (and despite Bush’s commutation), and I’ve completely lost track of him now. (Does anyone know what he’s doing?)

... Feith’s former boss, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, has also not been heard from recently, which in many ways is very strange, given that his last public post was president of the World Bank and his official at AEI (where he has been a Visiting Scholar since his ignominious resignation 18 months ago) stresses his interest in development and trade. You would think that, given the current financial crisis and its potentially disastrous ripple effects on emerging economies and poor countries (for which he has expressed particular sympathy in the past), he would not have been shy about offering his advice about how to protect them.

November 01, 2008

Bye Bye Cynthia?

Wapo sticks the knife in and gives it a few good, hard twists for good measure.

When the Greens demanded a right to respond, they were offered 200 words max. They have written their own response here.

Democracy? Freedom? Puh-lease.

October 30, 2008

Relevant?

Human nature:
Fritzl claims that his mother abused him as a child and never showed any love for him and beat and kicked him until he lay on the floor bleeding.

The psychiatrist says although Fritzl described his own suffering as a child in detail, he was absolutely unable to anticipate the emotions of others.

October 28, 2008

Check out my stats, George


I am kind of amazed at how much I posted way back when:
* ► 2006 (2154)
o ► December (140)
o ► November (178)
o ► October (251)
o ► September (177)
o ► August (211)
o ► July (164)
o ► June (159)
o ► May (272)
o ► April (120)
o ► March (133)
o ► February (179)
o ► January (170)

* ► 2005 (1244)
o ► December (85)
o ► November (149)
o ► October (173)
o ► September (167)
o ► August (122)
o ► July (107)
o ► June (64)
o ► May (54)
o ► April (94)
o ► March (68)
o ► February (80)
o ► January (81)

* ► 2004 (1728)
In 2006, I was posting an average of nearly six posts per day *. For the whole year. Throughout October 2006, in the lead up to the November 2006 mid-term elections, where Dems won both House and Senate, I was posting over 8 times per day, without working weekends.

And I am an Australian.

That explains a lot for both you and me, George.

* Some of them were pretty good too. Some of them took days, if not months, to assimilate. I was going nuts trying to turn the tide. It worked, but unfortunately I am still nuts.

News Of The World

From the BBC:
BBC Business Editor Robert Peston says global taxpayers have now spent £5 trillion to shore up the world's banks...

The Bank of England's new estimate on global losses is double the estimate that it published in May...

Last week Bank governor Mervyn King said the British banking system had been closer to collapse earlier this month than at any time since the start of World War I.

He also said that a "little more boredom" would be no bad thing for the industry.
In other news, with admirable British understatement:
The trouble with cultivating the idea that you are good in adversity is that it only works if you have a convincing plan for extracting yourself from it.

It is starting to look as though presidential hopeful John McCain simply does not.
Hold on, it gets even better:
A historian reminded me last week of the extent to which Harry Truman had been written off in 1948 before he overhauled Thomas Dewey in the closing days of campaigning.

But if John McCain wins it from here it seems to me that he should be compared to Lazarus not just Thomas Dewey.
And of course:
One key to all this is the use of the internet.

October 27, 2008

Why Am I Not More Surprised?

There's not much I can be bothered blogging about right now, but this one deserves a special mention.

Remember how all the wingnuts and White House crazies kept insisting that Saddam had ties to terrorists, and how - when challenged - they always pointed to an old 1970's terrorist called Abu Nidal, who was supposedly living in Baghdad in 2003, as proof (actually, the only thing close to "proof" that they had)? Never mind that he was an old man who had publicly renounced terrorism years earlier, or that he had actually been dead for a year after killing himself in 2002. This guy's supposed link to Saddam was the fragile thread of "evidence" on which all their preposterous claims hung.

Well now, it turns out that Abu Nidal may well have been working undercover for the USA.

October 26, 2008

Qu'est-ce Que C'est?

C'est drole:
Barack Obama is noted for his powerful intellect, but I don't think he gets nearly enough credit for the mental dexterity it takes to be simultaneously an Islamic theocrat, atheistic communist and national socialist while posing as a center left candidate. Those must be the compartmentalization skills they taught him at that Manchurian madrasah in Indonesia.
Better run run run run run away!
RĂ©alisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire... OK!
Bonne chance, Monsieur Obama. Nous avons besoin, tout le monde, de quelque chose assez bien meilluer...

October 24, 2008

Is The Humiliation Complete Yet?

Not by a long way....

October 23, 2008

Song For George



I love this song, it is just so powerful. I have thought of it often over the past five years, and if I had the time I might make a Youtube video with flashes of Bush's early popularity moments, contrasted with images of him handling Katrina (or not), Iraq, the economy crashing, etc. Maybe finish with a picture of him and Barney, walking away towards a helicopter on the White House lawn, hanging their heads.

And for anyone who (like me) has been emotionally drained by fighting against the Bush GOP machine, and (like me) needs a little time out, or maybe a long time out, here's another Taj Mahal song. I can't find the original, but this cover kinda makes you want to go pick up a guitar, doesn't it? Hey, WP?

October 21, 2008

I Visited A Website And Left A Comment

It was the greatest comment the world had ever seen. Within hours, it transformed the entire world's political narrative in a way which could never be revoked. The history of the 21st Century, and beyond, pivoted upon this moment. The comment was:
WTF?
Arianna Huffington: The Internet and the Death Of Rovian Politics
McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn't working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.

"We are witnessing the end of Rovian politics," Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google told me. And YouTube, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is one of the causes of its demise.

Thanks to YouTube -- and blogging and instant fact-checking and viral emails -- it is getting harder and harder to get away with repeating brazen lies without paying a price, or to run under-the-radar smear campaigns without being exposed.

October 12, 2008

In Case You Missed It

I posted this back in March 2005:

Greenspan Must Go

It has always been just a question of time before US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan would be revealed as a pro-Fascist Bush neo-con stooge. That time is now upon us:
The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, has admitted he made a mistake in 2001 when he defended President George Bush's tax cuts, which led to the turnaround of a large budget surplus at the end of the Clinton presidency to a budget deficit this year of more than $US400 billion ($506 billion).

Instead of a projected surplus of $US5.6 trillion by 2011, the budget deficit is now expected to be $US4 trillion by that date if the tax cuts become permanent.
Back in 2001, Greenspan was backing Bush's tax cuts for the rich with the ridiculous claim that budget surpluses were too big and that the US foreign debt would be paid off too quickly! Now he is attempting to use the old neo-con "groupthink" defence (who could have guessed there were no WMDs/Al-Quaeda links/limits to US borrowing?).
Under vigorous and often aggressive questioning by Hillary Clinton, Dr Greenspan, looking decidedly uncomfortable, said that, with the benefit of hindsight, he had been mistaken in his view about budget surpluses.

"We were confronted at the time with an almost universal expectation amongst experts that we were dealing with a very large surplus for which there seemed to be no end," he said. "I look back and I would say to you, if confronted with the same evidence we had back then, I would recommend exactly what I recommended then. Turns out we were all wrong".

"Not all of us," snapped Senator Clinton.
You go, girl!

It's like an immature kid maxing out a swathe of new credit cards while boasting to the world about how fast his new car is, how big his new boat is... Sooner or later the credit card companies are going to put a stop on the card and call in the debt, even if it means they themselves make a loss.
The United States' deficit in the broadest measure of international trade soared to an all-time high of $US665.9 billion ($A842.91 billion) in 2004, showing in stark terms the speed with which the country is becoming indebted to the rest of the world.
In this case, the global lenders have to worry that putting a halt to the neo-con adventure could trigger a global recession, if not another Depression. But it's time to put a stop to the game.

Greenspan's "mistake" has cost the US taxpayer around $10 trillion. If that isn't grounds for resignation (if not dismissal) then I don't know what is. A more honourable and less complicit President would put the man in jail.

October 09, 2008

Not Blogging, Posting

How long is it going to take the world to admit that these people are the problem?

For the past 8 years, something very important to financial and political stability has gone AWOL.

It's called ACCOUNTABILITY.

In years gone by, outbreaks of public anger could only be satiated when those responsible for the outrage were brought to account. Bloody, decapitated heads were impaled on spears, paraded through the streets or fixed to castle ramparts for all to see.

Thankfully, we have come a long way since then, and modern justice is (at least nominally) far less barbarous. But the need for accountability prevails.

How did we get here? Who's responsible? What went wrong? The public has a right to know, and an urgent need to know.

Unfortunately, all those in a position to speak truth to power are now reluctant to talk. Why? Because they themselves - the media, the judiciary, the public servants, the military, the police - have all been co-opted by the perpetrators. All are guilty by association, all know it damn well, and the whole damn system stinks.

Of such things are popular revolutions made.

Now, maybe the markets will rebound tomorrow. Maybe the "global financial crisis" will fade. Maybe we'll all calm down a bit. I don't know.

But I do know one thing.

If there is no accountability, still, after all this, then the same "mistakes" will be made again, and very soon.

October 06, 2008

Change Gonna Come



Check out the look on his face at the end of the song...



That's what I'm talkin' about.

September 19, 2008

Going Underground



Some people might say my life is in a rut,
But I'm quite happy with what I got
People might say that I should strive for more,
But I'm so happy I cant see the point.
Something's happening here today
A show of strength with your boys brigade and,
I'm so happy and you're so kind
You want more money - of course I don't mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes

And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society's got -
I'm going underground, (going underground)
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground, (going underground)
Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow

Some people might get some pleasure out of hate
Me, I've enough already on my plate
People might need some tension to relax
Me I'm too busy dodging between the flak

What you see is what you get
You've made your bed, you better lie in it
You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns

And the public wants what the public gets
But I don't get what this society wants
I'm going underground, (going underground)
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground, (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow

We talk and talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
The braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

Going underground, I'm going underground!

Someone Wants Revenge?

I just got a hit from Lehmann Brothers. Someone googling the words "cheney energy task force goldman sachs" hit this old post of mine: How Bush's Friends Manipulated Oil Prices For The '06 Mid-terms

Oh please, please let somebody rich and powerful spill the beans on Big Dick and send him to jail for the rest of his life!

Does that mean that goldman sachs got some preferential treatment out of Cheney's task force, which is why they are the only bastards (aside from MS, teetering) who still haven't gone under? Oh, and is it really just a coincidence that Paulson was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs? Know wot I'm talkin' 'bout?

TPM has the stats.

Seriously, it must take some cojones to stand up in front of the cameras and tell the world that the imminent collapse of the capitalist model has nothing to do with you. Either that or complete self-delusion.

Consider where we stand today, folks. Morgan Stanley, one of only two remaining Wall Street banking giants, is now begging the Chinese government to bail them out.
"The number two US investment bank, whose shares are down about 58 per cent this month, has also approached Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp about boosting its stake, the source said, following a $US5 billion investment late last year. "
From Wikipedia:
The management and board of the China Investment Corporation ultimately reports to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The China Investment Corporation is seen as being "firmly entrenched" in the political establishment as the composition of its Board of Directors implies "considerable influence on the part of China’s Ministry of Finance."
Heckuva job, George.

UPDATE: Headline of the year?

September 18, 2008

What Bush Hath Wrought...

Who could have imagined.... ?
World banks, led by the US Federal Reserve, are pumping an extra $US360 billion ($450 billion) into global markets in a coordinated effort to avert a lock-up of the financial system.

The Fed, along with the central banks of Canada, England, Europe, Japan, and Switzerland, are auctioning off billions of US dollars to European banks in a move to ease the liquidity constraints brought on by the global credit crisis. The Reserve Bank of Australia is not participating in the cash infusion.

The move is in response to a chronic shortage of US dollars in Europe over the past couple days, said a person familiar with the situation. European banks have found themselves short of the US dollars needed to service US-dollar denominated short term finance.

The Fed's announcement comes after global share markets plunged yet again today, rattled by the recent collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, the emergency rescue of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America and yesterday's $107 billion bailout of AIG by the US government.

The ECB and the Bank of England said they would each offer up to $US40 billion in overnight funds. The Fed said it would authorise $US180 billion expansion of temporary foreign currency swap arrangements and Bank of Japan announced it would launch dollar-supply operations as part of the worldwide effort to tackle the dollar shortage.
I just watched the evening news on Australia's ABC. It started off with the words:
Capitalism is in crisis tonight...
Bush's friends will tell you this is an example of media bias.

It is NOT an example of media bias!

This is how far we have come.

September 16, 2008

Bush War Crimes Tribunal

This looks promising:
Saturday morning, the dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover will convene a two day planning session with a single focus: To arrest, put to trial and carry out sentence on criminals in the Bush Administration.

The conference, arranged by Lawrence Velvel, cofounder of the Andover school, will focus on which of Bush's officials and members of Congress could be charged with war crimes. The plan also calls for "necessary organizational structures" to be established, with the purpose of pursuing the guilty "to the ends of the Earth."

"For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders," Velvel said in a media advisory.
Video of the conference will be available on the Internet by Friday, Sept. 19, 2008. Participants include Vincent Bugliosi, David Lindorff and Phillipe Sands.

September 11, 2008

Sayonara, Japan

So much for their short-lived military excitement:
The Japanese government decided to finish "the mission of the Air Self-Defence Forces in Iraq by the end of this year," Komura told reporters.

The decision ends all Japanese military operations in Iraq.
It's funny that the agreements being reached with Iraq to keep forces in the country are called SFAs (Aussies use that term to mean "Sweet F*ck All", or in other words, "nothing"):
Q A couple of questions involving the President's meeting with President Talabani today. How much of his decision to order a fairly conservative troop withdrawal from Iraq was determined by the fact that the coalition of the willing will all but cease to exist next year? And just exactly how many members of the coalition do you expect to negotiate their own SFAs with Iraq?

MS. PERINO: I don't know how many, and I'll let the Iraqis, or MNFI address that. I don't know how many. But there will certainly be many countries that have already announced that they're going to be ending their operations in Iraq this year. They're basically able to do that because of the success that we've had working with them, and because of the President's decision to send in more troops and to fundamentally change our approach, in terms of protecting the population and making sure that we did not lose Baghdad.

The President's decisions about troop levels were based on the recommendations from the Department of Defense, who I'm sure took into account all of the other aspects of the conditions on the ground, including how many other coalition members would be there.

Q Meaning that we're going to have to cover for a number of other countries?

MS. PERINO: I actually think that we're able to make the -- we're able to bring back troops based on success because of the success that we've had. Other countries have already said that they were going to be scaling back operations. And as you heard President Bush say yesterday, we're very thankful for all that they've done. We knew that we were going to be in Iraq for a longer period of time. There are some countries that will continue to be there, but I don't have a list in front of me, I'll let MNFI announce it.

Q Are you suggesting we're not going to have to replace the troops that other countries withdraw?

MS. PERINO: You'd have to ask DOD. I don't think so.

Q Okay. When the President talks to President Talabani today --

MS. PERINO: I mean, I should just say that doesn't mean necessarily that they wouldn't move troops around to certain places where they think they might need them if countries pull back their troops, or if they need security training for forces. I don't know.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

September 10, 2008

Bye Bye Coalition

WaPo:
The Coalition of the Willing appears to be going out of business.

President Bush tucked a little extra news yesterday into a speech largely devoted to informing the public that he plans to withdraw 8,000 more troops from Iraq: He also announced that most of the countries that have been partnering with the United States in Iraq over the past five years will be pulling their troops out as well.

"Australia has withdrawn its battle group, the Polish contingent is set to redeploy shortly, and many more coalition nations will be able to conclude their deployments to Iraq this year -- thanks to the skill of their troops and the success of their missions," Bush said in a speech to the National Defense University.
Actually it is due to the UN "mandate" - always a transparently phoney legal proposition in any case - expiring at the year, and the lack of any Iraqi agreement to replace it, and the lack of any public support for this foolish charade in member nations.

The Coalition of the Willing was always a very meagre and transparent affair, cobbled together only when the UN had firmly refused to back the USA's illegal pre-emptive invasion with a further resolution endorsing force. But what is really telling today is that the USA would not even be able to cobble together such a sycophantic coalition any more. We have all learned our lesson! The neconon vision of unassailable US power throughout the 21st Century will have to rely on Hard Power or disappear - the Soft Power option is dead.

Even Bush, much as he refuses to admit it in public, has surely learned his lesson. One can only wonder whether the stupid bastard will ever dare admit it, and acknowledge his mistakes, before he goes to meet his Maker. I doubt it.

Bush The Failure

Anyone who still talks about Iraqi deaths being in the "tens of thousands" is in denial. Anyway, FWIW, here's Bob Woodward via antiwar.com:
In our final interview, on May 21, 2008, the president talked irritably of how he believed there was an "elite" class in America that thought he could do nothing right. He was more guarded than ever, often answered that he could not remember details, and emphasized many times how much he had turned over to Stephen J. Hadley, his loyal and trusted national security adviser. There was an air of resignation about him, as if he realized how little he could change in his eight months left as president.

He alternately insisted that he was "consumed" by the war, "reviewing every day," before adding, "But make sure you know, it's not as though I'm sitting behind the desk and totally overwhelmed by Iraq, because the president's got to do a lot of other things."

By his own ambitious goals of 2001, he had fallen short. He had not united the country, but had added to its divisions and had become the most divisive figure in the country. He acknowledged to me that he had failed "to change the tone in Washington." He had not rooted out terror wherever it existed. He had not achieved world peace. He had not attained victory in his two wars...
Meanwhile, Bush the C-grade student is today set to receive a C grade as President:
Seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government has made only limited progress toward preventing a catastrophic nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil and combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction abroad, according to a report card to be issued tomorrow by 22 former U.S. officials.

The bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America gave the United States an overall grade of C. The government received in total three D's, eight C's and seven B's in areas such as sustaining support of foreign scientists and governments, integrating programs to prevent nuclear terrorism and strengthening multilateral law enforcement efforts.

The group urged the next president to appoint a cabinet-level White House coordinator with the authority to direct counterproliferation plans, programs and funding "from day one." The panel was co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton (D), former congressman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and Warren Rudman (R), former senator and co-chairman of a 2001 blue-ribbon commission on terrorism.
Yeah, let's all listen to Lee Hamilton eh? Maybe he'll recommend Philip Zelikow as Counter-Proliferation Czar? Wonder what the salary will be, and what kind of budget he'll command, and which companies will get the contracts, etc etc etc....

Of course Bush has been a failure in the eyes of the world, and in the eyes of US voters. But to his base, who have benefited hugely from his largesse, will he not always be a hero?

Well, no actually. They think he has been a useful idiot. That is all.

The big question for them is: who's next?

September 09, 2008

McCain's Crazy Attack Bitch

According to yesterday's New York Times, Sarah Palin kept her pregnancy a secret because she was distressed about baby Trig being diagnosed pre-natally with Downs Syndrome:
She also feared a public backlash over the pregnancy. So she kept working, even travelling to Texas a month before her due date, to give a speech.

On the day of that speech, Ms Palin began discharging amniotic fluid. She went ahead and gave the speech anyway, before returning to Alaska – a 10-hour flight.

"Nobody knew a thing," Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii told The New York Times. "I only found out from my security detail on the way home that she had gone into labour and that she had gone home to Alaska."

Trig Paxson Van Palin was born early next morning, weighing 6lb 2oz.
Is this a credible story? Can she produce medical records to confirm the pregnancy? Ultrasounds? Anything? There are rumors that the baby was actually delivered by her daughter, and Palin covered up for her. I don't really give a shit if that's true or not, but this story doesn't pass my smell test and the lady's credibility is already shot.

I mean, what sort of mother doesn't take more care than that with the delivery of her baby? Back at work after THREE DAYS? Who was taking care of the baby? Who is taking care of the baby now? Her daughter? Or a Philippine maid? Would Sarah Palin still be anti-abortion if she had to actually take care of this kid herself? Are these family values we can believe in, my friends?

Here are some Palin family names explained:
*Track, 19, named after the lake where his father fishes.

*Bristol, 17, named after Bristol Bay – where her mother wants to create a huge mine.

*Willow, 14, inspired by willow ptarmigan, Alaska's state bird.

*Piper, 7, bears the same name as the family plane.

*Trig, 4 months – Trig is Norse for "brave victory".
Branding your kids as symbols of your own political ambition? That's beyond creepy - that's sick.

Palin is a total whacko. She makes Michael Jackson look normal. Rightwing US voters might love her for now (despite how little they know about her) but the rest of the world just looks on in drop-jaw amazement:
“To paraphrase Martin Luther King, today we could say: “I had a nightmare,” wrote Lysiane Gagnon, of La Presse, a French speaking daily newspaper of Montreal. ”Worst is that this nightmare seems realistic, taking into account the age and the health of John McCain.”
Can you imagine this woman in a televised VP debate against Joe Biden??? Of course US politics is all a theatrical charade these days, but Palin's nomination takes it to a new low.

If President McCain died and Palin took over, who would really be running the US government? Why don't those people step out of the shadows and put themselves on the ballot?

I'll tell you why.

Because Dick Cheney is not allowed to run for VP again.

Still Creating Our Own Realities

This is hilarious:
So here was Namdar — Taliban chieftain, enforcer of Islamic law, usurper of the Pakistani government and trainer and facilitator of suicide bombers in Afghanistan — sitting at home, not three miles from Peshawar, untouched by the Pakistani military operation that was supposedly unfolding around us.

What’s going on? I asked the warlord. Why aren’t they coming for you?

“I cannot lie to you,” Namdar said, smiling at last. “The army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.”

Entertain whom? I asked.

“America,” he said.
You have to wonder whether Cheney and Rove would even care, as long as they get the spin they want.

What's not so hilarious is that stories like this are only coming out now that Bush & Co. want to shift their military focus to Afghanistan and maybe even launch a war (declared or not) on Pakistan's tribal areas.

September 08, 2008

Thank You

Preliminary Business.

There was a time, long ago, when I used to hope that this little blog might get some recognition. That's not why I was blogging, of course, but I used to hope that one day all my efforts might perchance be rewarded with some public recognition, which might make it easier for me to keep blogging against Bush. And if I could make a few bucks out of it, so much the better.

I dont think I was being too egocentric. All I've ever wanted to do was save the world. Or to put it another way, take care of my wife and family, which includes making the world a better place for my kids and (one day, hopefully) grandchildren to live in.

The public recognition never happened, of course. But never mind. The message that I was preaching (along with so many thousands of others) slowly worked its way into the public consciousness, and George W. Bush will now be remembered forever as the sack of shit that he always was. That's what really matters. That's the real reward, right there.

Nevertheless I am pleased to see that SOMEBODY - by the unlikely name of Patdhiver - has just nominated this blog for a Bloggers Choice award. And not just one award, but two! Yes, not just Best Political Blog (move over, Josh Marshall!) but actually - even! - Best Blog Evuh! Tee hee! Move over, all you cute animal blogs!

Of course, these blogger awards are just a curious study in the failed short-term attention spans and mindless distractions of the celebrity-obsessed human race. But what I really appreciate here is being nominated along with great bloggers like Winter Patriot, Chris Floyd and Larissa Alexandrova. That is high praise indeed, and all the thanks I need. So thank you, Pat D. Hiver, wherever you may be (I think I can guess, but I could be totally wrong).

And thanks also to everybody "else" - including WP, Bukko and other regulars - who have supported me. The truth is there for anyone who cares to look.

OK. Business is now adjourned.

Winter has a good post today looking at the weirdness of our current political discourse. And that is pretty much why I am not blogging much any more. If you cannot even say that the Bush administration is full of criminals, and the 911 official story is full of holes, and the anthrax killer is still at large - if you cannot say these things and build a system of belief on them - which you cannot, because you simply do not have the facts to prove them conclusively, however much circumstantial evidence you may gather together - then you will find it very difficult to present a credible world view and hold a loyal audience.

As WP points out, Chris Floyd is lately doing a good job of it. I am not. Never mind.

Sometimes it's like tag team wrestling. One blogger flops to the canvas, injured or exhausted. Another jumps into the ring. So it goes.

So it goes.

But this is not showbiz, this is not orchestrated, this is not a cynical exercise in exploiting public gullibility for profit. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is the truth laid bare, for all who have the curiosity to seek it out. This is reality, if you can handle it. These are the horrible facts, make of them what you will.

What's He Got To Hide?

Interesting:
Months before the Bush administration ends, historians and open-government advocates are concerned that Vice President Cheney, who has long bristled at requirements to disclose his records, will destroy or withhold key documents that illustrate his role in forming U.S. policy for the past 7 1/2 years.

In a preemptive move, several of them have agreed to join the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in asking a federal judge to declare that Cheney's records are covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and cannot be destroyed, taken or withheld without proper review.

September 05, 2008

Short Memories

Does anyone remember, about eight years ago, there was this skinny little guy running for President who kept insisting that he was going to shake up things in Washington? Does anyone remember how - despite his father having been President - this guy kept insisting that he was an outsider, not one of the Washington elite? Does anyone remember how he promised to be "a uniter, not a divider" and to bridge partisan political divides?

Does anyone remember how he got nominated?
Having run Senator John McCain's campaign for president, I can recount a textbook example of a smear made against McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential primary. We had just swept into the state from New Hampshire, where we had racked up a shocking, 19-point win over the heavily favored George W. Bush. What followed was a primary campaign that would make history for its negativity.

In South Carolina, Bush Republicans were facing an opponent who was popular for his straight talk and Vietnam war record. They knew that if McCain won in South Carolina, he would likely win the nomination. With few substantive differences between Bush and McCain, the campaign was bound to turn personal. The situation was ripe for a smear.

It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child.

September 04, 2008

What Are You Doing Here?

Like I said, the dude abides.

Strikes and gutters, folks. Strikes and gutters.

September 02, 2008

Where Did You Go, Joe?

I was nearly right. I posted a kinda sarcastic readers blog at TPM explaining why McCain chose Palin:
The GOP only chose McCain as their presidential candidate because all the other choices were even worse. And that's exactly why McCain chose Palin.

It was supposed to be Lieberman, actually - that was the plan. But at the last minute, Joe told John that he had something big to confess. He said that if this big secret ever got out, it would be a huge scandal that would sink the GOP ticket for good.

McCain was shocked - shocked! - to hear Lieberman admit this sordid truth: he is an AIPAC stooge and has been putting Israel's interests ahead of the USA's for many years.

Shh - don't tell anybody.
Well, now the NYT has come out with the true story. And I wasn't too far off:
Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before Mr. McCain introduced Ms. Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. McCain was still holding out the hope that he could choose a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said. Mr. McCain had also been interested in another favorite, former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party. As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates.

Perhaps more important, several Republicans said, Mr. McCain was getting advice that if he did not do something to shake up the race, his campaign would be stuck on a potentially losing trajectory.

With time running out — and as Mr. McCain discarded two safer choices, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as too predictable — he turned to Ms. Palin. He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later. Advisers to Mr. Pawlenty and another of the finalists on Mr. McCain’s list described an intensive vetting process for those candidates that lasted one to two months.

“They didn’t seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before,” said a Republican close to the campaign. “This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn’t get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge.”

August 31, 2008

Is Murdoch Pulling The Rug?

Check out the feature article at antiwar.com today. It's a MarketWatch article in Murdoch's WSJ, but it's not that paper's usual fare:
Yes, America's economy is a war economy. Not a "manufacturing" economy. Not an "agricultural" economy. Nor a "service" economy. Not even a "consumer" economy.

Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul. So let's get honest and officially call it "America's Outrageous War Economy." Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that's the answer to Jim Grant's thought-provoking question last month in the Wall Street Journal -- "Why No Outrage?"

There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love "America's Outrageous War Economy."
The author details how trillions of dollars are wasted by opportunistic warmongers, and how the US public cheers it on even as they get taken for a financial ride. What's even more interesting, however, is the closing paras:
Comments? Tell us: What will it take to wake up America, get citizens, investors, anybody mad at "America's Outrageous War Economy?"

Why don't you rebel? Will the outrage come too late ... after this massive war bubble explodes in our faces?
Provocative stuff for the staid WSJ! And as I write, there are 997 comments already posted.

Sooner or later somebody like Murdoch is going to realise that you can make money by selling this story. But that would mean pulling the rug on the War Machine. And despite appearances, I don't think Murdoch is ready to do that.

Articles like this are just in the paper for what they call "colour" (I wouldn't be surprised if it's not even in the print edition). They generate debate, score lots of hits, and drive revenue. Then, when critics say the WSJ is a rightwing warmonger's propaganda tool, Murdoch can point to articles like this to argue against them. But you are not meant to take it seriously.

Maybe the WSJ wants to trigger a few antiwar riots ahead of the coming election?

August 29, 2008

The Dude Abides

Sometimes there's a man, I won't say a hero...



... a man who is just trying to be himself ...



... but sometimes things don't go as planned ...



... in fact, sometimes they get worse...



... and sometimes even worse ...



You try to keep a sense of humour, a sense of identity...



... but sometimes things seem to just keep repeating themselves, over and over, going nowhere ...



... sometimes the competition sometimes seems unbeatable...



... and sometimes even the seemingly good things in life are not what they appear...



Sometimes you wonder if you are the only one who even gives a shit...



And so, sometimes, you just gotta be yourself, and keep doing the best you can.



In your own unique way.

Of course.

And now....

A BONUS FEATURE FOR REGULAR GANDHI READERS:

Not many people (I am thinking nobody?) have ever focused on the political theme of this great cult classic movie. But I will give it a try, using the above vids, my own memory, and this Wikipedia plot synopsis as a guide...

In the movie, there's a scene at the start where George H.W. Bush says "This aggression will not stand". Saddam has just invaded Kuwait. Then The Dude says "this aggression will not stand" when bad guys pee on his rug. So there's the movie's basic analogy: the US Everyman Dude's space has been invaded, and his rug is Kuwait. But who is Saddam? And why did he invade?

That's where things get interesting.

The bad guys pee-ed on the wrong guy's rug. They were really after someone else: a wheelchair-bound US millionaire. Saddam pissed on Kuwait, the little US rug in the Middle East which "really pulled together the room" of the USA's petrol-addicted economy. But who was Saddam really trying to piss on? The ordinary citizens of the USA, who got so very upset, so upset that they went on the warpath? Or the US government and their Big Oil supporters?

Of course, from Saddam's perspective, US Big Oil might easily be confused with the US government and/or the US people, just as The Dude is easily confused with a millionaire of the same name.

So just as The Dude is forced to go and resolve this dilemma himself, in order to maintain his much-loved lifestyle, it was the US people - by the force of public opinion, overwhelmingly, but by soldiers in particular, and their families (cf. the Dude's friend who pulls a gun) - who had to go and confront Saddam, and drive him out of Kuwait.

The invasion of Kuwait wasn't really their problem, but they knew they were going to be affected by it. Just like The Dude.

The pretext for the invasion of the Dude's privacy was that the Big Lebowski's wife had been kidnapped. Lebowski's goons mistakenly thought The Dude did it. But in fact it was the Nihilists. In fact, the wife might even have helped them fake the whole thing! Who knows? Mystery upon mystery...

I'll leave it to my thousands of regular commenters to unravel the minor plot details, but I am happy to stand my this high-level synopsis of the plot. No doubt the Coen Brothers manipulated subplots to fit the overall plot dynamics, but I think this is a credible version of what basically inspired the script.

Over to you...

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