August 31, 2005

Is it still a "conspiracy theory" if it has been openly canvassed in the Financial Times?: "Plame herself is a CIA operative who also specialised in weapons of mass destruction and bio-terrorism. So did Miller get to know Plame while she was writing her book or even use her as a source for other WMD stories?"
Either the Bush Kids Put Their Lives on the Line for George's "Noble War" or the Troops Come Home.
"I demand that George W. Bush's daughters, and his eligible nieces and nephews, serve in Iraq to prove their support of Bush's 'noble war for a noble cause.' If the Bush family does not believe in 'sacrificing' for the war and is not willing to put their lives on the line, then Bush must bring the troops of middle class and poor Americans home now."
Bush's USA is (still) the top seller of weapons to developing nations:
It delivered more than $US9.6 billion ($A12.8 billion) in arms to countries including those in the Near East and Asia in 2004, and boosted worldwide sales to those countries to the highest amount since 2000,

The total worldwide value of all agreements to sell arms last year was close to $US37 billion ($A49.35 billion), and nearly 59 per cent of the agreements were with developing nations, according to the Congressional Research Service report.
Posada pleads "not guilty" to pro-US terrorism.
Time For A Change

Wow, Hurricane Katrina really is powerful. After mounting criticism that recalled his do-nothing response to 9/11, George W. Bush - who was playing golf, eating cake and strumming guitar yesterday as the storm slammed into the Gulf - has cut short his five week holiday (by a whole day) and headed back to Washington.

And with that news, it's time for Cindy Sheehan to hit the road:
I must admit when I sat down in the ditch on August 6th, I thought to myself: "Self, what the hell did you do? Texas in August? A ditch filled with fire ants, rattle snakes, and chiggers? Pooping in a bucket? Dodging lightening bolts and heat exhaustion? But I knew I would have to suffer it through to the end. I knew that the people of Iraq and our soldiers have it far worse than we did. I thought as long as I could have plenty of water and an occasional shower at the Peace House, that I would survive.
So goodby Camp Casey, hello to the Bring Them Home Now Tour (click the link for a map and dates).
Iran 1 - Israel 0?

It's ironic. Bush lovers like to fantasize about how the USA can meddle in the affairs of the world, setting up puppet governments and even waging wars with proxy armies. And yet - as this piece by Robert Sheer makes clear - the Iraq War can to some extent be seen as a battle between Israel and Iran, both of whom have been using the USA to their own advantage...
What an absurd outcome for a war designed to create a compliant, unified and stable client state that would be pro-American, laissez-faire capitalist and unallied with the hated Iran. Of course, Bush tells us again, this is "progress" and "an inspiration." Yet his relentless spinning of manure into silk has worn thin on the American public and sent his approval ratings tumbling.

Even supporters of the war are starting to realize that rather than strengthening the United States' position in the world, the invasion and occupation have led to abject humiliation: from the Abu Ghraib scandal, to the guerrilla insurgency exposing the limits of military power, to an election in which "our guy" — Iyad Allawi — was defeated by radicals and religious extremists.

In a new low, the U.S. president felt obliged to call and plead with the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, Abdelaziz Hakim, to make concessions to gain Sunni support. Even worse, he was summarily rebuffed. Nevertheless, Bush had no choice but to eat crow and like it.
Gods And Monkeys

US scientists arguing that climate change is real are being ruthlessly targetted by Joe Barton, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce, a Texan with close links to the fossil fuel industry. The Guardian has a pretty shocking report:
Mr Barton's inquiry was launched after an article in the Wall Street Journal quoted an economist and a statistician, neither of them from a climate science background, saying there were methodological flaws and data errors in the three scientists' calculations. It accused the trio of refusing to make their original material available to be cross-checked.

Mr Barton then asked for everything the scientists had ever published and all baseline data. He said the information was necessary because Congress was going to make policy decisions drawing on their work, and his committee needed to check its validity.

There followed a demand for details of everything they had done since their careers began, funding received and procedures for data disclosure.
Compare that with the lack of information provided to Democrats on John Roberts or John Bolton. You'd think that disasters like Hurricane Katrina might be a wake-up call to these fools, but they have neither intelligence nor morality.

And therein (hopefully) lies the seeds of their defeat... Atrios points to a looming conflict between right-wing Bell Curve racists and Intelligent Design creationists:
Will the racist Darwinians have the nerve to ask why the "Intelligent Designer" came up with the really, really fucked up idea that the big brained white guys like them got the tiny penises and the small brained, big dicked blacks got all the big-titted, hot assed women? Will the Discovery Institute fellows feel compelled to drop their pants to prove that the IDer in chief knew what he was doing?

I sense a monumental crack-up among the racist wingnuts. It's either god or monkeys --- with their inferior manhoods hanging (ever so slightly) in the balance.
Like we've said before, reality doesn't even seem to matter to these people, so you wonder why anyone should bother engaging them in a serious debate. Andrew Gumbel, author of Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America, says Bush supporters will not even concede the basic mathematics behind the 2000 Election:
It's become fashionable to say that 11 September 2001 was the day that changed everything in American politics. But I'm not sure the bigger watershed didn't come nine months earlier when the Supreme Court pulled the plug on the Florida battle and installed George W Bush in the White House.

Given the trauma and upheaval of everything that has happened since - the Iraq war, of course, but also spiralling deficits, huge tax cuts for the rich, a stark widening of the income gap between rich and poor, and on and on - it is perhaps natural for Bush supporters to dig in their heels and claim full democratic legitimacy for what the administration has wrought.

Likewise, it is natural for Bush opponents to wonder how much of it might have been avoided - how many military deaths, how much anti-American anger and resentment around the world, how many detentions, deportations and torture scandals - if the 2000 election had concluded differently.

No wonder the passions continue to rage. It is, or should be, beyond dispute that the Florida election was fought dirtily and that there is at least a case to be made that the wrong man ended up in the Oval Office. Contrary to received wisdom, the problem was not ultimately with deficient voting machines or even the respective merits and demerits of the Republican and Democratic causes. What Florida suggested - and continues to suggest - is that the very foundation of the American democratic system is corrupted and rotten. And that's a reality many Americans may not yet be ready to confront.
I guess the guts of the problem is that reality is becoming increasingly difficult for these people to face, as it is getting rapidly and dramatically worse in so many key areas with respect to their ill-conceived biases. To quote Charles Sullivan:
The trouble is that most Americans don't want to know the truth because it would make them uncomfortable. So they turn their heads the other way and allow themselves to be distracted from their civic and patriotic duties. It is easier to display the flag and plaster their cars with 'Support our troops' stickers. This mode of being requires no real effort; nor accountability.

Their government is murdering millions of innocent people all around the planet, torturing people and toppling both democratic and progressive governments; it is committing acts of terror against the world's working poor; it is plundering their homelands and stealing their wealth. How can any person of conscience remain indifferent toward these acts? How can we wave our flags and support our troops when this is what they are doing? Is this their idea of liberation? Is this their perception of Democracy? Is this the kind of nation we want to be?
Today's News: Not Fit To Print

Take a deep breath before you read Juan Cole's blog today.

He starts with reports that US officials are "tinkering" with the new Iraqi Constitution, even after most of the major players have left town. Then he reports that Sunnis involved in drafting the Constitution were offered bribes of up to $5 million apiece (what exactly did Bush say on that phone call the other day?).

And that's on top of yesterday's surreal news:
The Iraqi parliament attempted to legislate sanctions against perpetually absent members of parliament on Monday. But they could not legislate on the issue because there were too many absentees.
Meanwhile, US forces have dropped at least six 500kg bombs on two houses in Western Iraq. One US media headline reads Air Strikes Kill Seven Insurgents. The subtext reports that "40 civilians died in one house and 16 in another." A Google News search shows that this is how the attack is being reported in most of the US media. International papers take a different perspective. One report (from a new Pakistani TV station: it's not clear from their Web site who is behind them) even describes the US killing "60 Al Quaeda fighters".

Back in Bush's USA, new figures show 37 million people were living in poverty in 2004, up 12.7% from the previous year. Trickle-down economics is the darnedest thing, isn't it?

UPDATE: It's the fourth straight year of increasing US poverty. The Bush administration has produced increasing poverty numbers every year since taking office. Quelle surprise!

UPDATE 2: US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says "a final, final draft has not yet been, or the edits have not been, presented yet." So much for letting the Iraqis govern themselves! See, that's the thing with kids - if you don't let them have their freedom, they will never leave home. Know what I'm saying?

August 30, 2005

Still On The Beat

Did Lawrence Ferlinghetti really write this back in 2003? Wow... If you don't know the name, Ferlinghetti is a legend, one of the famous old Beat poets of the 1950s, a fellow traveller with Jack Kerouac and others. Ferlinghetti was also one of the signatories of a paid advert, Not in Our Name, that the New York Times refused to run at the time of Bush's re-inauguration:
We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers. We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted by the United States government should have the same rights of due process. We believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be valued and protected. We understand that such rights and values are always contested and must be fought for.

We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do — we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.

September 24th is going to be a big day in DC! Cindy Sheehan and fellow protesters will be touring the States for three weeks in a bus, culminating in a massive DC protest march against Bush.
This is the kind of stuff I just fantasize about writing...
Bush's Iraq: The Idiots Are In Charge

If this is not the most damning indictment of Bush's failed adventure in Iraq, I don't know what is...

Remember the Iraqi blogger Khalid Jarrar, who disappeared and - it was later discovered - was sent to jail? Here is his account of what happened to him:
They started by asking me: “What’s the connection between you and the London Bombs?” !!!
And I was like: “haaaaa???!!.”. I said: “London Bombs???! Nothing!”


A heavy hand landed on my neck, my brain was too busy to feel the pain, I felt my neck numbing for a while.

“SPEAAAK” he shouted.

“Turn around” he yelled.

I turned, facing the room now, but not seeing anything other than my nose and the shoes of the person who was interrogating me, standing so close.

“Why do you have a beard?” he asked.

“Because the prophet...” (I was trying to tell him that prophet Mohammad had one, and that I have one because I love to look like him...)


He slapped me on the face. It made a loud noise that the room became dead-silent for some seconds….

“May the prophet curse you” he shouted.

Again, my brain didn’t respond to the pain signals, I didn’t feel it.

For the next few hours, they asked me questions like “who are the other members of our terrorist cell, where does your fund come from? What operations did you have?”

“What do you have against Shia?”
I said: “nothing, my mother is Shia!”
He said” what do you have against Kurds? Why don’t you go blow yourself up and kill Kurds?”
I said: “Because God says in Quran…” (I was trying to tell him a part of Quran where God orders us not to kill any innocent soul) he interrupted me shouting, “We know Quran better than you”.
“My best friend is Kurdish!” I said.
“Of course he is, so that you can get information about Kurds from him, right?” he answered.

Nothing I said seemed to make sense to them. And nothing they said makes sense to anyone in the world.

Then finally I understood why I was there, after few hours. Security guards at the university had printed out all the websites I was reading while I was online there. They were accusing me of “reading terrorism sites” and “having communications with foreign terrorists”.
“Do you know what these pages are?”
I looked at them and figured out they were the comment section of Raed in the Middle!!
I opened the comments section while browsing in the university, read some comments, and didn’t even post anything. But these people don’t seem to know what the internet is, and they don’t speak English, so I was a major suspect of being an assistant of al Zarqawi maybe! Or that I have a terrorist group of my own, with foreign connections!
Full post here.
Where's Riverbend?

Riverbend has not updated her Baghdad Burning blog since July 1st this year. Although it has been quite obvious for some time that she is increasingly disinterested in the whole blogging phenomenon (no doubt due to more pressing concerns, plus the amount of hate mail she receives) I would have expected her to comment on the latest constitution fiasco... Anyone got any idea what's happening with her?
Breaking news: Bush claims to have a heart. This on a day when the total of US dead in Iraq exceeds the number of days Bush has been in office.
Tired Old Soldiers With No Clue

A US exit strategy from Iraq, courtesy of.... er... Australian Opposition Leader Kim Beazley?
There was an electrifying moment here last week when a longtime friend of the United States spoke up during a meeting of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, a group I've been part of for several years. Kim Beazley, the leader of the Australian Labor Party and a former defense minister, proposed an alternative that would admit the errors of the past by way of salvaging America's influence for the future.
Sorry, E. J. Dionne Jr., but I don't think so.

Former Defence Minister Beazley is one of those old hawks who are a little less hawkish than the hawks in power, so these days he comes across as a moderate. He's an old friend of Richard Armitrage, if that helps put it into a US perspective.

Beazley is right to say that Iraq is "sucking the oxygen out of American foreign policy." He's also probably right to say a "phased extraction" is required (very quick phases, please). But to argue that simply repositioning US forces around the Middle East will somehow solve the entire Iraq morass is either wishful thinking or wilfully misleading: anti-Americanism, Islamic fanaticism and violent resistance will continue to flower wherever the US seeks to shuffle their forces. What is needed is not a clever sleight of hand, but an unconditional apology backed by a wholesale rejection of US policy to date.
"You have to win, you know," said Beazley. "You cannot lose the war on terror."
That is pure Bush*t. You cannot, ever, win that so-called war. There will always be a possibility of a man on a bus with a bomb in a case, or worse, blowing himself and his innocent victoms to kingdom come for whatever cause he deems worthwhile. You cannot definitively stop that from happening, not even if you destroy every civil liberty ever created and impose a Matrix-style police state.

The best you can do is make it as hard as possible for that killer to get his hands on the parts required to build such a weapon. But more importantly, you have to do everything possible to diminish his motivations (and public support) for such annihilistic acts. That is the real key to success against terrorists: attack the motivation, not the man.

But without a wholesale change in US foreign policy, this assault on the motivations of terrorists is simply not going to happen. As long as the USA and its Western allies continue to impose their will by force on the people of the Middle East, as long as we offer them fake puppet governments dressed up as "democracy", there will always be a "war" to be fought.

The question is, do we want such an endless war or not? Some of our politicians, evidently, do.

UPDATE: Here's a comment from a genuine Iraqi:
The US administration should think seriously of changing their policy in Iraq, and maybe changing their entire shameful Foreign Policy around the world.

The US stakeholders should conceder having some changes and modifications in their policy in Iraq on both the short and the long term.

On the short term, the US administration decision-makers should take the necessary steps from their side to stop the cycle of violence. The US-led coalition troops should be pulled out of Iraq ASAP. The details about the transitional period between the withdrawal of the occupation forces and the rebuilding of the Iraqi army and Iraqi security forces should be left to Iraqis to handle it by themselves. The US people should ask their government to stop causing the death of more US and Iraqi people in Iraq. The pentagon should start withdrawing the US troops from Iraq instead of sending more of them.

All the Bush administration's whining and speeches about “helping Iraqis by keeping the US army in Iraq” and “saving Iraqis from a civil war by keeping the US army to protect them from each other” make no sense and are all a bunch of lies and excuses to extend the US military presence in Iraq, and leave permanent bases in the country (Japan and Germany style). The US administration should simply change the idea of using Iraq as a military base for threatening other countries in the M.E. like Iran and Syria, and leave Iraq to Iraqis to live peacefully in their country.

If we want to “help Iraq” or to “save Iraqis”, the best way for doing so is asking the US-led occupation armies to leave Iraq.

If we believe in democracy and the right of people to rule themselves, and if we believed in the Iraqi people and their right to rebuild their country after the cruel decades of destruction because of internal and external reasons, we shouldn’t support another day of the illegal occupation.

On the long term, the US government supported by the US citizens should publicly apologize to Iraq and Iraqis for the horrible consequences of the illegal war and occupation, and they should ask the UNCC to start estimating the size of damage caused by the occupation forces to Iraq and Iraqis, and estimate the compensation that should be paid.

Whether this imposed constitution will be approved or not, it won’t solve the Iraqi crisis, it won’t be any better than the January pre-mature elections.

If it was about achieving more fake victories, and more benchmarks to prove something to the US people and the rest of the world, this constitution can be considered a small step in that direction.

If it was about achieving local accomplishments built on grassroots’ support, this constitution will be nothing more than ink on paper. It won’t be capable of improving anything, but it has the potentiality of making things worse by increasing the sectarian and political divisions in Iraq.

August 29, 2005

Bush & Co: How Bad Are They, Really?

Mike Whitney's latest piece at Axis Of Logic has got me thinking...

Whitney is pretty aggressive in his complaints about Bush. Sometimes he comes across as perfectly spot-on, but sometimes he sounds a little bit... how shall I say it? .... extreme? But wait a minute, because that has always been one of my own biggest problems in running this blog. How on earth do you tell the truth about what the Bush administration has been doing for the past five years or more, without coming across as (basically) a complete, raving and presumably Commie-loving lunatic?

Of course, it helps that nowadays 60% or more of the US public disapproves of the job Bush is doing. So whereas in the beginning my little blog was easily dismissed as a "Conspiracy Theory" site, it's now getting a rapidly increasing number of hits from pissed-off US citizens Googling for the information they never got from FAUX News et al.

Looking back now, the "conspiracies" which have turned out to be real are actually quite astonishing (although, with the benefit of hindsight, even those who were fooled by them may now be inclined to just shrug them off as common knowledge).

Consider the sheer size and bravado of the lies that lead up to the Iraq War - which Whitney calls a "high-water mark" of state propaganda. Look at how elaborately the web was spun, how resolutely the truth was suppressed on multiple fronts, how many, many people, organisations, even countries were involved. Who but the most committed zealot, or morally bankrupt materialist, would even contemplate such deceit?

What about Bush's AWOL scandal? The Jessica Lynch story? Pat Tillman? Look how carefully the propaganda machine was built, how many people (Jeb Bush in Florida, Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio, Alberto Gonzales on the White House legal team) were gradually brought into positions of power and influence, ready for the day when their input would be needed. Then imagine people like Rumsfeld and Cheney planning deceptions like the massacre of Falluja, knowing they had a more than even chance of hiding such an atrocity from the world, not only from the weekly press but from the evidence of historians in years to come?

What about stealing two elections in the USA, staging a failed coup in Venezuela and a successful one in Haiti? What about keeping a lid on the global warming data, turning it into a "debate" by pretending it isn't happening, even as tsunamis, floods and hurricanes kill millions around the globe? What about ridiculing the Geneva convention as a "quaint" anachronism while legitimizing US torture? Now they are even thinking they can reduce Darwinian evolution to a "theory" on a par with their own creationist mumbo-jumbo!

It's just so much easier to dismiss all this stuff as crazy "conspiracy", isn't it? Because if it's not a fantasy, it's as scary as all hell. As many others have said, if Bush is not the divinely-inspired leader he claims to be, then he is either a willfully ignorant fool or a conniving, cynical hypocrite - and which is worse?

So how bad is it? Whitney says that the US government is now "so inherently corrupted that there is very little worth salvaging":
In all areas of American life, information is being manipulated to manage public perceptions... Bush's top lieutenants are entirely committed to creating their own storyline and calling it news. They are not restrained by the facts that emerge from the"reality-based" community... We should assume that they will do whatever it takes to eliminate the voices that compete with the one message they want to convey.
"Whatever it takes"? Scary words... How low would they go?

Well, the sad fact is that Bush & Co have already sent thousands of innocents to their premature deaths. They have already destroyed the USA's international reputation, parading the atrocities of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib as part of their "new post-9/11 reality". They have already torn down civil liberties with the Orwellian-named "Patriot Act" and "Homeland Security". They have run up a massive deficit while ignoring the environmental problems that will cost future generations many trillions more to fix.

Ignoring all the facts that refute their ideological crusade, refusing to even acknowledge their lies and deceit, they instead push ahead with their pre-set agenda: Bolton is set to disable the United Nations even as Roberts puts the Supreme Court firmly in Bush's pocket.

How low will they go? The real question is: How low will we let them go?

Whitney argues that the Internet itself is the next logical target for the Bush machine, since that is where dissent is spreading most rapidly:
Both free speech and its antecedent the truth are much greater threats to the state than any bomb-wielding revolutionary. In the new world order only the managers are entitled to the truth, not the managed... Information is freedom; and that freedom is destined to become the province of the ruling class alone if the public fails to organize resistance.
If Whitney is right, pathetic little "conspiracy theory" blogs like this could become the next front in the war on truth.

Does that sound crazy?
In case you didn't know it: The BRAD SHOW is airing live from Crawford.
Media Whores
Dan Froomkin, in his online Washignton Post column today, notes that “in spite of all the recent press demands for senior administration officials to stay on the record more often, the press corps can't resist an offer of face time with the president, pretty much no matter what the conditions.”

Nevertheless, he reports, he had been told “that several reporters expressed squeamishness about last night's event, particularly as the press-pool vans drove by antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan's 'Camp Casey' site. And later, a small handful watched askance as the rest fawned over Bush, following him around in packs every time he moved.”

August 26, 2005

Is Something Happening?

Is it just a coincidence? This week, which saw what could be a definitive turnaround in US public opinion against Bush, is also likely to be a week when the whole sorry facade of US-imposed Iraq "democracy" became an incontrovertible shambles.

In the USA, there is an almost palpable sense of change. Joseph L. Galloway recalls the spirit of the 60's and the old song, "There's something happening here..."
Those of us who are old enough have seen this movie before were reminded of other presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, who were haunted by another war and dogged by war protesters and a nation that lost confidence in their leadership and wound up divided against itself.

Will history remember this week as the tipping point for George W. Bush and the Republicans who control Congress? Can they stay the course as they head into mid-term elections next year?

One more question: Will our children and grandchildren and their children harvest a bitter crop of budget deficits, higher oil prices, Islamic militancy and a broken Army and Marine Corps that was seeded in Iraq by this president, his vice president and his secretary of defense?

Will that bitter harvest, not a cakewalk, a mission accomplished and a Mesopotamian march of democracy, be Bush's legacy?
In Iraq, the change this week is definitively for the worse, or so it would seem as Constitution deadlines demanded by the USA prove impossible to meet and violence flares anew. Juan Cole has a new Salon piece looking at the debacle.

PS: Even my good friends at Iraq The Model are covering the latest violence: I assume that means there is no "good news" left?
Dying To Justify The Dead

With the belated neo-con vision of Iraq Democracy looking like yet another lost cause, Maureen Down deconstructs Bush's latest rationale for "completing the mission" in Iraq:
'We owe them something,' he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion). 'We will finish the task that they gave their lives for.'

What twisted logic: with no W.M.D., no link to 9/11 and no democracy, now we have to keep killing people and have our kids killed because so many of our kids have been killed already? Talk about a vicious circle: the killing keeps justifying itself.
Bush is the one who owes the dead, the maimed, and the families of both US and Iraqi casualties something: an answer to Cindy Sheehan's question, what noble cause did they die for?
John Howard Knows Nothing - Again

Hmmn. There's always a scandal brewing when Australia's "teflon" PM says he knows nothing and wasn't told:
'It is news to me. I'll find out. I'll investigate the claims but I don't have any knowledge of it,' Mr Howard said on Southern Cross radio in Melbourne. 'I should have been told.'
UPDATE: Australia follows the US lead once again, as Howard & Co threaten to jail journalists:
Two journalists from the Canberra bureau of News Limited's Herald Sun newspaper have been warned they face going to jail for contempt of court if they do not identify a source who gave them confidential government documents.

John Howard says the Federal Government has followed routine procedure in the investigation and prosecution of journalists Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey over the leak.

He has told Southern Cross Radio he respects reporters' need to preserve confidences but the Government has a right to some secrecy.
MEMO TO GEORGE: How you gonna fix Iraq if you dunno the difference between terrrrsts and turrrrrsts?
The Top Dog Goes "Bow-wow!"

A thought-provoking Guardian report: Stagger on, weary Titan, compares Bush's USA with Britain in 1905. It also provides this Washington insider joke:
The Iraq War is over. Iran won.
Photos Washington Doesn't Want You To See

Why are photos of dead bodies not being splattered across US newspapers and TV screens? Salon looks at the issue:
A picture of a dead child only represents a fragment of the truth about Iraq -- but it is one that we do not have the right to ignore. We believe we have an ethical responsibility to those who have been killed or wounded, whether Iraqis, Americans or those of other nationalities, not to simply pretend that their fate never happened. To face the bitter truth of war is painful. But it is better than hiding one's eyes.
Salon has this photo gallery.
US Democrats: Looking For A Leader in 2008

Former Democratic Presidential wannabe Gary Hart asks his fellow Democrats the big question: Who Will Say 'No More'?
History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? ...

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

Further, this leader should say: "I am now going to give a series of speeches across the country documenting how the administration did not tell the American people the truth, why this war is making our country more vulnerable and less secure, how we can drive a wedge between Iraqi insurgents and outside jihadists and leave Iraq for the Iraqis to govern, how we can repair the damage done to our military, what we and our allies can do to dry up the jihadists' swamp, and what dramatic steps we must take to become energy-secure and prevent Gulf Wars III, IV and so on."

At stake is not just the leadership of the Democratic Party and the nation but our nation's honor, our nobility and our principles. Franklin D. Roosevelt established a national community based on social justice. Harry Truman created international networks that repaired the damage of World War II and defeated communism. John F. Kennedy recaptured the ideal of the republic and the sense of civic duty. To expect to enter this pantheon, the next Democratic leader must now undertake all three tasks.
Let's just hope and pray the next Democrat contender is not another Skull and Bones man. We need much more than that now.
PlameGate: Staying On The Case

In all the talk about Cindy Sheehan (now back at Camp Casey), the big story being ignored is once again getting some much-needed air time. The LA Times today has a massive 5,500-word piece on the Rove-Plame scandal.
As Fitzgerald's team has moved ahead, few witnesses have been willing to speak publicly. White House officials declined to comment for this article, citing the ongoing inquiry.

But a close examination of events inside the White House two summers ago, and interviews with administration officials, offer new insights into the White House response, the people who shaped it, the deep disdain Cheney and other administration officials felt for the CIA, and the far-reaching consequences of the effort to manage the crisis.
E & P has an analysis:
The article includes some fresh revelations or comments. For example, it notes that allies of Karl Rove defend his talks with reporters in which he tried to counter claims by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Then it adds that “some of Rove's colleagues say that he and others used poor judgment in talking about Wilson's wife. 'With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear our focus should have been on Wilson's facts, not his conclusions or his wife or his politics,' said one official who was helping with White House strategy at the time.”

The piece also reveals that in one White House conversation, investigators have learned, Rove was asked why he was focused so intently on discrediting the former diplomat. "He's a Democrat," Rove said, citing Wilson's campaign contributions.

The article also attempts to lay to rest one of the prime Republican talking points: That Wilson's trip to Africa at the behest of the CIA was set up by his wife. “An official recommended sending Wilson to Niger because of his experience there, including a previous mission for the CIA,” the article states, calling the Plame role “a noisy sideshow.”

The article details conversations involving Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby, Matt Cooper and Robert Novak. But near its conclusion it raises an emerging issue, promoted by Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair, among others: If Time magazine had gone public about Rove's conversations with Cooper, it might have had some impact on the Bush-Kerry race for the White House last year.

Not until this summer did Cooper ask Rove for a waiver to talk to the grand jury, and ultimately the public, about their conversation. The L.A. Times article today notes that he did not do this before “because his lawyer advised against it.” But the reporters add that in addition, “Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.”

The story concludes: "The result was that Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection.
Iran-Contra: Roberts Was In On It Too

Wouldn't it be surprising if Bush's Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. turned out to be knee-deep in the Iran-Contra scandal like the rest of this corrupt administration:
The subjects of the Reagan-era documents have been released, but their contents for now have been withheld. Those topics are, Democrats say, at a minimum intriguing: Roberts commenting on presidential pardons, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and aspects of what would become known as the Iran-contra scandal. One of the still-secret memos is from the young White House lawyer to then-Reagan aide Patrick J. Buchanan in March 1986. The topic: "aid to Nicaraguans fighting the leftist Sandinista government".
Bush's Millennium: Entrenched Poverty Is USA's Goal

Remember Live8? Remember all that sweet talk about tackling poverty around the world? Remember how Bush was reluctantly brought on board by a fervent Tony Blair, pledging to increase aid to developing nations etc etc etc???

Well, forget it. It was just for show. John Bolton, Bush's new man in the UN, has shown his hand:
The US has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the Administration is urging UN members to strengthen language in the 29-page document that calls for tougher action to combat terrorism, promote human rights and democracy and halt the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.
Steve Clemons at Talking Points Memo has a leaked PDF copy of the revised memo (warning: big download) and provides this summary:
In short, the document does the following:

~ knocks out entirely the Millennium Development Goals

~ continues to undermine collective efforts against climate change

~ knocks out targets and timetables for all goals and objectives

~ guts any efforts toward further disarmament objectives and focuses exclusively on non-proliferation, while both had always been important objectives in the past

~ strikes the section that states that countries will use force only as last resort

~ and oddly, strikes out the need to establish a legal definition of terrorism, which the Bush administration has previously stated is a requirement before proceeding towards a U.N. Convention on Terorrism.
The Millenium Summit was always intended as a showcase of the UN's capacity to make a real difference in the world.

Bush & Co always complain that the UN is ineffective (that's why we gotta do the pre-emptive war thing, remember? Coz them UN dicks couldn't even find them WMDs...) yet they do everything possible to shackle it, embarrass it and render it useless. A failed Millenium Summit will be a major embarrassment to Kofi Annan and his staff. It will also entrench poverty in developing nations for generations to come, ensuring US economic domination of the planet continues unabated: Bush & Co could not be happier.

Well done, Mr Bolton. You must be real proud.
"So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."
SOLUTION: Get rid of Bush.

August 24, 2005

Constitution or Constipation?

So will we really be seeing an Iraqi constitution in another three days, or is that just another crock of Bush*it?

The head of the constitutional panel says three days is not enough. Disenfrachised Sunnis are openly threatening civil war. They've already delayed the announcement twice - even though that is illegal - and many involved Iraqis have publicly said that the USA seems to want a new constitution in more of a hurry than they do (it would sure get Cindy Sheehan off the front pages).

So what's going on? Bush keeps scheduling press conferences so he can be the first to tell the world about the "breakthrough" (yep, another one) but talks keep failing and Bush ends up sounding like a broken record: "... fight them there so we don't have to fight them here ... making the USA safer ... yadda, yadda..."

And what exactly might this new, model "Democratic" constitution look like anyway? Juan Cole translates a few key passages:
Article 2:

Para. 1: Islam is the official religion of state, and is a fundamental source for legislation.

a) No law may be legislated that contravenes the essential verities of Islamic law.
Obviously, how you interpret "essential verities" is up to you - death to the infidels? Stoning adulterous women? It's Democracy, kids... but not as we know it!

If yet another three days is not enough, it is reasonable to assume that real agreement is simply not going to happen, or not happen in any meaningful grass-roots way.

It is looking as if this new constitution may be just a mirage in the desert heat, and that anything that emerges on paper now will have all the moral authority of Allawi's failed puppets or Bremer's CPA.

UPDATE: Surprise, surprise. Another deadline missed. I think this is the start of the civil war, folks.

August 23, 2005

The Able Danger story may be FUBAR, but it's still worthwhile keeping an eye on it.
Where Do We Go From Here?

It is almost certainly premature, given that Bush still has not crawled through the gates of his big ole ranch to kiss Cindy Sheehan's feet, but the next big debate is already underway. Assuming the war is a big mistake (and already lost), the next big question is: what to do about that?

Juan Cole today has a detailed plan for gradually extracting US forces without setting off a violent civil war.
I can't guarantee that these steps will resolve the crisis in the short or even medium term. But I do think that, if taken together, they would allow us to get the ground troops out without risking a big civil war or a destabilization of the Middle East. Once Iraq can stand on its own feet, I am quite sure that the Grand Ayatollah in Najaf will just give a fatwa for complete US withdrawal, and the US will have to acquiesce, as it did in similar circumstances in the Philippines.
Personally, I think U.S.A. OUT NOW! is as good a plan as any. It would take the US at least a month to organise and carry out a complete withdrawal in any case, during which period I think you would notice that currently recalcitrant Iraqi politicians are suddenly very keen to seek concensus and consolidate their positions of power. Any remaining pockets of violent terrorism would immediately lose 90% of their public support, and presumably either look to getting back to a more constructive lifestyle or waging jihad on the next front (Afghanistan Part II? Pakistan?).

I also think that the UN would be a better interim peacemaker than the discredited USA can ever hope to be, so if a more long-term withdrawal of troops is required to guard against civil war, it should involve UN forces taking over from US ones. Of course, this would require a complete and unconditional apology from the Bush administration, and the USA would quite correctly be expected to fully finance the UN operation. Could happen...???

Meanwhile, the same debate is waging in partisan US politics as Dems and Reps look to build a position on Iraq prior to the 2006 elections. Of course, the whole US political system is so deeply entwined with the US military-industrial complex that (even now) any real anti-war policies are not even being considered at the top levels. So what's new?

Enter the bloggers:
Bush is politically vulnerable at the moment, but the fractious Democrats are ill-poised to take advantage. The liberal base is out of sync with the most visible contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination (Sens. Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, and John Kerry), all of whom voted for Bush's war, none of whom have embraced the calls for troop withdrawal.

This tension is being exacerbated by some of the newest players in the party: the Internet bloggers who enable grassroots liberals to network more easily and raise money without an OK from Washington. It's even possible that if the war drags on and top Democrats refuse to move leftward, the "net-roots" liberals might try to finance and champion their own presidential candidate - someone like Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, who on Wednesday called for the removal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2006...
A breakway left-wing candidate with massive grassroots support? John Conyers (Independent) for Prez? Could happen...?

(ASIDE: This is kind of ironic: the printed media filling me in on all the latest rants on the blogosphere. Mind you, I still got the info online via the ever-faithful Smirking Chimp!)
You Call This A "Democracy"?

Only 36% of the USA now believes that George W. Bush (boy on a bike in a bubble) is doing a good job. Considering that about 25% of the country would support their president even if he invaded both Canada and Europe simultanteously, that is a pretty damning statistic. Basically it means that just about every thinking adult in the USA now disapproves of Bush's Orwellian policies.

This is the kind of representative government y'all wanna export around the world?

Full stats available at The National Economy.
"It's kind of like if Woodstock was really organized.."
The State Of Connecticut is suing the US Federal government over Bush's "No Child Left Behind" policy.

August 22, 2005

Another Report, Another Whitewash?

Of will those one finally be different? From Walter Pincus at the Washington Post:
The CIA inspector general's report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has finally been completed -- nearly two years after its congressionally set deadline -- but has yet to be sent to Capitol Hill because CIA Director Porter J. Goss is still deciding how to respond to its findings, according to administration and congressional sources...

One reason for the long delay in producing the report, according to present and former agency officials, has been the original requirement by the joint committee that Helgerson "determine whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable for any omission, commission or failure to meet professional standards" in relation to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

When Goss received a draft of the report last October, he sent it back because performance failures were attributed to individuals without giving them the chance to respond to those findings or have the matter adjudicated by an accountability panel...

Some present and former agency officials have been upset that four years after the attacks, the CIA is still being criticized despite having been the loudest voice in government to warn Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush of the terrorist threat.

"What about Congress and the White House not paying attention, or even the Federal Aviation Administration?" one former agency official asked yesterday.
Advice For "Anti-Semites"

All right maybe I have been going on about this episode long enough, but just for the record:
So, if they call you an anti-Semite, what should you do?

First, recognize that the charge of anti-Semitism is, itself, a vicious "ad hominem" attack. It usually means that the person who accuses you of anti-Semitism is unwilling to conduct a debate on the merits of your ideas, but simply wants to discredit you on the basis of a supposed personality fault in you.

It's almost like calling you, "child molester" or "dope addict!" or "Kleptomaniac!" It tries to shift the discussion away from your ideas and onto your supposed personality flaws.

Anyone who ever accuses you of anti-Semitism has thereby demonstrated intellectual weakness in himself, by choosing to call you names rather than discussing the merits of your ideas.

August 21, 2005

Get Used To It, George

For anyone who thought Cindy Sheehan's mother's stroke might have meant the end of her protest:
Contrary to what the main stream media thinks, I did not just fall off a pumpkin truck in Crawford, Tx. on that scorchingly hot day two weeks ago. I have been writing, speaking, testifying in front of Congressional committees, lobbying Congress, and doing interviews for over a year now. I have been pretty well known in the progressive, peace community and I had many, many supporters before I left even left California. The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war. I have stood up and said: "My son died for NOTHING, and George Bush and his evil cabal and their reckless policies killed him. My son was sent to fight in a war that had no basis in reality and was killed for it." I have never said "pretty please" or "thank you." I have never said anything wishy-washy like he uses "Patriotic Rhetoric." I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMD's or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the U.S. military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.

Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called "fair and balanced" main stream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it ...

THIS is George Bush's accountability moment and he is failing miserably. George Bush and his advisers seriously "misunderestimated" me when they thought they could intimidate me into leaving before I had the answers, or before the end of August. I can take anything they throw at me, or Camp Casey. If it shortens the war by a minute or saves one life, it is worth it. I think they seriously "misunderestimated" all mothers. I wonder if any of them had authentic mother-child relationships and if they are surprised that there are so many mothers in this country who are bear-like when it comes to wanting the truth and who want to make meaning of their child's needless and seemingly meaningless deaths?

The Camp Casey movement will not die until we have a genuine accounting of the truth and until our troops are brought home. Get used to it George, we are not going away.
Courtesy of Buzzflash.
Goodbye Feith... Hello Tehran?

Juan Cole says farewell to Douglas Feith:
the outgoing number 3 man at the Pentagon, the son of a founder of the proto-fascist Likud Party, has his own foreign policy and fanatically favors the aggressive expansion of Israel and further expropriation of Palestinian property. It is shameful that he is only now resigning, since he has all along opposed the roadmap to peace of the Bush administration. And while others might have had complex motives for taking out Saddam, the reams of disinformation that issued from Feith's "Office of Special Plans" are easily explained. He saw the Baath regime as a brake on his hopes for a "Greater Israel." As number 3 in the US Department of Defense, moroever, it is hard to see how he could have been insulated from the decisions that led to the torture of Arab prisoners.

If France appointed Jean-Marie LePen as its number 3 in the Ministry of Defense, there would be howls of outrage from the international community. But Feith's commitment to colonizing Palestinians is just as racist a project as any of LePen's programs. If any other American bureaucrat had dared to maintain that it is perfectly all right for one country to colonize another, he would have been considered poison in Washington. But the Likudniks have made themselves respectable in ways that are mysterious to those of us outside the beltway.
Cole also posts a link to Doug Ireland at ZNet, who examines the AIPAC spy scandal in relation to neocon plans for invading Iran:
When, for purely electoral reasons with the Iraq occupation going so disastrously, the White House decided against a direct attack by the U.S. on Iran, the neo-cons went to Plan B -- an attack on Iran by proxy, from Israel. The principal classified documents leaked to Israel through AIPAC -- the leaks that that began the investigation of the AIPAC spy ring, which has been going on now for over a year -- concerned Iran. They were leaked by Feith's deputy, Larry Franklin, also now under a five-count indictment for spying.

The plan for an Israeli attack on Iran has been long envisioned -- both in Washington and by Sharon's government -- but this attack is now in a highy advanced state of planning and could come as quickly as Sharon snaps his fingers to order it. Back on March 13, the London Times -- in a report that was largely ignored in the U.S. -- reported that: "The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave 'initial authorisation' for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert,"

The London Times went on to describe how "Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel’s elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities. The plans have been discussed with American officials who are said to have indicated provisionally that they would not stand in Israel’s way if all international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed...." And, the Times added, "US officials warned last week that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israeli or American forces had not been ruled out should the issue become deadlocked at the United Nations."

Just a few weeks before that revelation of the concretization of Israeli plans for the Iran attack, Bush let the cat out of the bag in an off-the-cuff remark captured by London's Daily Telegraph, in a February 18 article headlined, "AMERICA WOULD BACK ISRAEL ATTACK ON IRAN."
Ireland takes a look at some of the key figures in the AIPAC case, including Steve Rosen, the man who built AIPAC into a $40 million dollar Capitol Hill powerhouse, who comes across as the organisation's Dick "evil genius in the corner" Cheney.
Now, just what is AIPAC, you may well ask? AIPAC is the enforcer of the knee-jerk support for the Israeli government which characterizes the political and governing classes in this country, -- Israel is the real third rail of American politics: touch it with criticism, no matter how carefully couched, and you die. Both the Democratic and Republican parties fall all over themselves to kiss AIPAC's boots -- because AIPAC and its well-filled war-chest helps make sure they toe the line on Israel, and has been responsible for the defeat of a significant number of politicians over the years who dared to criticize Israeli policies.
Nuff said?
Stating The Bloody Obvious

Headline from Reuters today:
Bush invokes Sept 11 to defend Iraq war
He's only been doing it for four years...

The real story today, of course, in the celebrity-based world of US TV news, is that Bush (who doesn't have time for Cindy Sheehan) went for a two hour bike ride with Lance Armstrong:
Armstrong, 33, called Bush "one competitive dude," but said in the ABC interview he had no doubt he could outpace Bush, even though trails can be challenging for road cyclists unaccustomed to rough, rocky terrain.

"He's a good rider," Bush was said to have remarked about Armstrong after the ride, which featured only one 10-minute break to admire a waterfall on the property.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Armstrong was careful to respect "the first rule of biking," a hint that he did not overtake the president.

Duffy said he did not know whether Bush discussed politics with Armstrong, who has spoken out against the war in Iraq...
Lance Armstrong is "a good rider"? Really? Now who says Bush is totally divorced from reality???

August 20, 2005

August 19, 2005

The Time Is Now

In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

—President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office; January 1961

Stick with me on this post - I think it will be worth it.

Brian Bogart is 50 years old and the University of Oregon’s first graduate student in Peace Studies. This by way of introduction:
I wrote pen-pal letters asking President Kennedy to take down the Berlin Wall, marched with Martin Luther King, worshipped John Lennon, worked for companies building Trident, MX, and Stinger missiles simultaneous to my involvement with Carl Sagan’s anti-Cold War Space Bridge project, and helped build the B-1 bomber and parts for the Aegis Weapons System (capable of directing 20 missiles at once) on the Ticonderoga-class battle cruiser—much of this while attempting to deconstruct the obvious conflict between what I wanted (peace) and what I needed (a paycheck).
And here with no further ado is one of the key sections of Bogart's new article at ICH, America Programmed for War: Cause and Solution:
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.
The "single policy decision" Bogart is talking about was made just after WWII, when President Truman signed a document called NSC-68, which recognised the Soviet Union as an "evil and imminent threat". Bogart argues that this policy transformed the USA from a people-based economy to a military-based one. He further claims that the Korean War was begun on false premises as a means of pushing this policy through Congress. Heavy stuff!
All US military actions from 1950 to 2005 flow from this decision, made without the consent of the American people. There is no fundamental difference between the Cold War and today’s so-called permanent war on terror; perfect fuel for our military-based economy. For 55 years, America has been waging a crime against humanity, a crime for profiteers. I call it the Long War because “permanent” is defeatist.
The author of the NSC-68 policy was Wall Street’s Paul Nitze. Then Secretary of State Dean Acheson was a key supporter. Both men have been cited as role models by Paul Wolfowitz:
“Paul Nitze has had a huge mark on my career over many, many years, starting with 1969, when I was still a very much wet-behind-the-ears graduate student who came to Washington to work with three great men: Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, and Albert Wohlstetter.”
Bogart claims the US military-industrial complex has profited from more than 200 wars since NSC-68.
But those in power today have also retooled our corporate industry (through the weakening of safeguards), our national intelligence agencies (through top-down coercion, firings, and policy changes), and the public mindset (through consolidation of media) to optimize war profits and popularize the notion of the need for permanent war.

The war-driven economy is justified by a “necessary” war on terror. But which came first - America’s global military-economic outreach, or international terrorism? Despite protestations from the current administration, terrorism is and has been a blowback of our policy, and as Chomsky says, the way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it.
Like Condi Rice, Paul Nitze had a ship named after him - nothing less than a destroyer, in fact. But it's interesting that he criticized the new "war on terror" before his death last year (Bogart argues his ideas were "co-opted" by Wolfowitz and the neocons).

I often wonder if those responsible for some of the atrocious decisions being made these days are totally aware of what they are doing, and the implications their decisions will have for generations to come. For example:
Foreign policy is what a few men make it, and that is terribly wrong. NSC-68 is where America, officially, took the wrong road. During its conception while developing the hydrogen bomb, Secretary of State Dean Acheson instructed subordinates to ignore any moral implications and focus on technological and budgetary challenges. This opened the door for a future of technical justifications by the Pentagon, and closed the door on all discussions of morality. The machine was born.
Bogart calls for an urgent transformation of US society, re-instating "We, The People" at the head of government - even if it means changing the US Constitution.

But his primary focus is the field in which he works, education. He says military funding is transforming the education curricculum, and he provides some hair-raising examples:
More than 300 universities are developing weapons for the Pentagon’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, many involving nanotechnology. MIT received an entire installation on campus, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and USC boasts the Institute for Creative Technologies. Both are among the leaders in developing the FCS Objective Force Warrior.

DoD literature speaks glowingly of the program’s accomplishments: “Arnold Schwarzennegger as The Terminator has nothing over the Objective Force Warrior.” It promises to “develop a high-tech soldier with 20 times the capability of today’s warrior by about 2010,” by integrating 18 systems into human soldiers. These systems include: graphic displays equaling “two 17-inch computer monitors in front of the soldier’s eyes”; thermal sensors; day-night video cameras; chemical and biological warning sensors; auditory enhancement; stealth and self-healing-wound technology; super sneakers that allow soldiers to jump over walls and buildings (Nike incorporated nanotechnology into its shoes in 2001); and microclimate conditioning.

Most of these systems already exist...
Is this guy a Conspiracy Theory psycho (or psychic?) or is he someone we should be listening to very, very carefully indeed? How about this:
... click on for a graphic study of “wetware”: in this case controlling rats via brain “hardpacks” (i.e. torture) at Johns Hopkins University, where Paul Wolfowitz is (or was) dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Here's a pic.

In today's world, it's not hard to imagine such contraptions strapped to the head of Gitmo inmates, is it? Bogart seems to have genine respect for those working on such projects....
They, like us, are merely cogs in the machine.
This is America, warrior nation. This is not a peace-loving country, and this is not an enlightened, promising, hopeful use of our schools.
If the information above hasn't scared you yet, this might. Bogart looks at the amount of money the Department of Defence is spending on secret projects:
In fiscal year 1999, the Department of Defense, the largest agency in the United States, reported unaccountable adjustments of $2.3 trillion to balance its books. In fiscal year 2000, it reported unaccountable adjustments of $1.1 trillion to balance its books. For fiscal year 2001, and since, DoD has (again conveniently) declined to report ( ).

With the most secretive administration in history, under which millions of public documents have vanished or been reclassified, let’s be generous and say they misplace a mere $1 trillion a year. 3.4 plus 1 trillion times four—leaving out 2005—means 7.4 trillion-plus Pentagon dollars are up to no good somewhere.
Bogart says there are 310,000 companies around the world working for America’s war industry.
That’s what we’re up against.

Deceptions such as the Cold War, the war on drugs, and the war on terror do not make our communities and our lives any safer. Their aim is to facilitate war profiteering...

Under our corporate-owned federal government, America controls the world and its own people through fear. It is up to us to reject the power of fear and give birth to a superpower of public opinion.
Bogart quotes Derrick Jensen's book, Welcome to the Machine:
“What one generation perceives as repression, the next accepts as a necessary part of a complex daily life.”
When you think about that, there is a lot of truth in it. In maintaining this blog for - how long?? - I have undergone something of a personal re-education that often makes me wonder about some of the standard, unquestioned attitudes to government and the military that are widespread in our societies. For example, why exactly is it so damned import to "Support Our Troops" even when they are committing atrocities?
In our time-pressured lives we rarely grasp the big picture and tend to view things separately: DARPA is an agency, universities are where we send our kids, elections are how we (think we) choose our presidents, and wars simply exist. But those in power see a single advancing policy—a military policy to derive profits from fear—and they have set our course in Pentagon plans that will not change with administrations.

What is our plan as the people? We will find inspiration from our revolutionary past. There are no laws against carrying out a change of government. Quite the contrary:

We hold these truths to be self evident—that all are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security.
The one thing Bogart forgot to mention is widespread global poverty. While the USA is pouring untold trillions of dollars into such questionable weaponry, the poor, uneducated masses are becoming prime recruitment fodder for groups like Al Quaeda.

I guess the US military-industrial leaders might be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of endless war which this scenario entails, but there simply has to be a better way. And it is up to us - you and me, my friend - to not only find it, but to make it happen.

Drowning In A Cesspool Of Hate

A week ago, Jeffrey Goldstein, the author of the protein wisdom blog, ridiculed me and other supporters of Cindy Sheehan as mindless sheep.

Till then, I had never even heard of his blog. So I went over to take a look, and maybe even defend myself. I should not have bothered. Here's some examples of the intelligent debate I have encountered on his blog over the past week:
Ghandi, you fetid, warped globule of walking spittle

ask your Mom if you can borrow your balls.

Jesus, what a fucking little anti-semitic pissant

You wouldn’t know an intelligent comment if it crawled in your ass with a reading lamp, a pipe, a glass of port, and a volume of Montaigne.

filthy dick


pull your head out of your ass

anti-Semitic cretin.

batshit crazy

anti-Semitic little fuck


stupid little fuck

stupid fuck


skinny hindu-troll

a fucking clown

a bigot and a moron

fuckin’ psychic

incoherent anti-semite

Ghandi’s alleged “blog” is one lonely shit hole.

you will die an idiot

a perfect example of the horrors of fetal alcohol syndrome


Man, what a fucking sad piece of work you are, gandhi. I bet as a kid you had to wear a bell around your neck so your parents could find you when you wandered into a corner and got stuck trying to walk through the wall.

I banged ghandi’s mother.
There was even a poem:
Is that Ghandi Man for real?
Who can take a blog post
Sprinkle it with joos?
Cover it in bullshit
And a homonim or two
The Ghandi Man
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
Cause he mixes it with hate
And makes the kool aid taste good

Who can take tomorrow
Dip it in a scream?
Multiply the sorrows
And collect up all the cream
The Ghandi Man
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
Cause he mixes it with hate
And makes the kool aid taste good
And the kool aid tastes good

Cause the Ghandi Man thinks it should
Cause the Ghandi Man thinks
Cause the Ghandi Man thinks it should
And let's not forget this gem:
... the notion that we actually needed help from the mighty Australians for military reasons is the funniest thing I’ve read this month. ... seriously we could conquer Australia with the the Ohio National Guard if we felt like it.
Protein is not even considered a far-right blog. In fact, the neocon journal Weekly Standard calls it great entertainment from the "moderate right" (as if such a thing even exists in Bush's USA).

These are the people who campaign on "values" remember?

This today from the TPM Cafe:
Such is the hatred of the far right at the dawn of the 21st Century. And my how the optical worm has turned. Today it is the left invoking faith, flag and family, while the right destroys crosses. Today it is the left that honors the war dead, raises up a Gold Star Mother and publicly prays for our troops, while the right viciously attacks a woman who gave her country everything. Today it is the left that patiently and peacefully respects the Office of the Presidency, while the right diminishes the office by claiming it's more important for the President to go bike-riding with a sports hero than comfort the mother of a war hero.

For the last two presidential elections it has been the Democratic Party whose nominee was a Vietnam War veteran, while the Republicans have sputtered out spurious defenses of their candidate's deceitful draft-dodging.

On Thursday, Dick Cheney, who said he had "other priorities" in the Vietnam era, and so helped himself to five draft deferments, will address the 73rd Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I do not think he will express remorse for the callousness with which he explained his cowardice. Nor do I expect him to apologize for the shocking, mocking Republicans who, at their New York Convention a year ago, sported Band-Aids with tiny purple hearts to mock the blood shed by John Kerry and so many other heroes in that misbegotten war.

No, Mr. Cheney, surrounded by body guards who would gladly give their life for him, will no doubt wrap himself in the flag...
The only good thing about all this right-wing hypocrisy is that such hateful invective does not play well to a thinking audience. Certainly not while innocent people are dying, the economy is going to hell in a handbasket and an insouciant President is busy somewhere in the country, pedalling his bicycle.

UPDATE: It's no coincidence that some of the nasty locals at PW just happen to be old "friends" from Iraq The Model, where the right-wing pro-war invective is just as foul. Here's an old "present" from one of them - I wonder if that soldier is still smiling?
Great PR, Pity About The Motives

The truth behind Sharon's Gaza pullout:
Israeli settler-colonists are dangerous predators in territorial terms, and ugly anachronisms in historical terms. They represent the last, lingering link to a form of 19th century European colonialism that is now universally seen to be based on the racist principle that white Europeans could steal the lands of any other people in the world, because the darker natives in southern lands had lesser rights as human beings...

I am saddened but not surprised that Sharon says he is leaving Gaza because political and demographic realities have changed. It is a shame that so few voices in Israel or among Jewish communities around the world would come out and say in clear terms that Israel is leaving because occupation is illegal, morally wrong, and politically counterproductive. Or that the Palestinians have the right to live in freedom, independence and national dignity...
Israel's "Untermenschen" treatment of the Palestinians has alarming parallels to the USA's perception of Iraqi war casualties, who are somehow not worth the effort of even counting.

The America Dream: A Hoax?

BBC report quotes the author of a new study saying:
"If you are born into poverty in the US, you are actually more likely to remain in poverty than in other countries in Europe, the Nordic countries, even Canada, which you would think would not be that different."
Cindy Sheehan's mum has suffered a stroke and she is (temporarily?) leaving the Crawford campsite. Watch for the wingnuts blame her for inducing the stroke...
Sheehan Coverage Turns Local as Vigils Spread: "The Associated Press estimated there were 1,600 such events and a Google News search produced hundreds of separate stories. Some vigils, such as one in Minneapolis, drew over 1,000 protestors. "
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Junior

Arianna Huffington shines a light on the New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger, the man behind the paper behind Judith Miller's WMD lies:
"The thing you’ve got to understand,” a source familiar with both Judy and the inner workings of the Times told me, “is that every big decision that comes out of the Times comes directly from the top. Nobody does anything there without Arthur Sulzberger’s approval.

It’s the larger, untold story in all of this -- that he now runs the newsroom...

August 18, 2005

"I have been to a lot of funerals."
Dark Motives: Pro-War Scum Attacking Sheehan

John Nichols hits the spot:
The rapidly dwindling minority of Americans who continue to search for some rationale for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq has been driven to the brink of breakdown by the success of Sheehan's protest. Go to the website of William F. Buckley's National Review magazine and you will find Sheehan described in headlines as "nutty," dismissed by columnists as "the mouthpiece... of howling-at-the-moon, bile-spewing Bush haters" and accused of "sucking up intellectual air" that, presumably, would be better utilized by Condoleezza Rice explaining once more that it would be wrong to read too much into the August 6, 2001, briefing document that declared: "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S." Human Events, the conservative weekly newspaper, dismisses Sheehan as a "professional griever" who "can claim to be in perpetual mourning for her fallen son" -- as if there is some time limit on maternal sorrow over the death of a child.

Fox News Channel spinner-in-chief Bill O'Reilly accuses Sheehan of being "in bed with the radical left," including -- horrors! -- "9-11 families" that are still seeking answers about whether, in the first months of 2001, the Bush administration was more focused on finding excuses to attack Iraq than on protecting Americans from terrorism. And Rush Limbaugh was on the radio the other day ranting about how, "(Sheehan's) story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real..." (Just to clarify for Limbaugh listeners: Cindy Sheehan's 24-year-old son Casey really did die in Iraq, and his mother really would like to talk with President Bush about all those claims regarding WMDs and al-Qaida ties that the administration used to peddle the "case" for war.)

The pro-war pundits who continue to defend the occupation of Iraq are freaked out by the fact that a grieving mother is calling into question their claim that the only way to "support the troops" is by keeping them in the frontlines of George W. Bush's failed experiment. Bush backers are horrified that Sheehan's sincere and patriotic anti-war voice has captured the nation's attention.

What the pro-war crowd does not understand is that Cindy Sheehan is not inspiring opposition to the occupation. She is merely putting a face on the mainstream sentiments of a country that has stopped believing the president's promises with regard to Iraq. According to the latest Newsweek poll, 61 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handing of the war, while just 26 percent support the president's argument that large numbers of U.S. military personnel should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve the administration's goals there.

The supporters of this war have run out of convincing lies and effective emotional appeals. Now, they are reduced to attacking the grieving mothers of dead soldiers. Samuel Johnson suggested that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But, with their attacks on Cindy Sheehan, the apologists for George Bush's infamy have found a new and darker refuge.

From the NYT:
The second-highest diplomat at the United States Embassy in Baghdad is one of the anonymous government officials cited in an Aug. 4 indictment as having provided classified information to an employee of a pro-Israel lobbying group…

In early 2002, USGO-2 (aka David M. Satterfield) discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with Steven J. Rosen, who has since been dismissed as a top lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as Aipac, who has been charged in the case.
When this shit links up with the PlameGate scandal (the common thread: Neocons) there will be hell to pay.
Searching For A Common Humanity

From Thomas Lynch, a funeral director who knows more about death than some:
We both went into our fathers' businesses: he does leadership of the free world; I do mostly local funerals. Neither of us went to Vietnam, and we both quit drink for all of the usual reasons. I imagine we both pray for our children to outlive us and that we have the usual performance anxieties.

The president works out a couple of hours a day. I go for long walks by the sea. We occupy that fraction of a fraction of the planet's inhabitants for whom keeping body and soul together - shelter, safety, food and drink - is not the immediate, everyday concern. We count ourselves among the blessed and elect who struggle with the troubles of surfeit rather than shortfall.

So why do I sense we are from different planets?


We may be irreversibly committed to play out the saga of Iraq. But each of us, we humans, if we are to look our own kind in the eye, should at least be willing to say we're sorry, that all over our smaller and more lethal planet, whatever the causes, we're still killing our own kind - the same but different - but our own kind nonetheless. Even on vacation we oughtn't hide from that.
Amen to that.
Jeffrey Goldstein: Slandering Cindy As An Anti-Semite

The "anti-Semite" slurs didn't work. The "puppet of leftwing radicals" spin didn't work. So today Mister Jeff "Don't-call-me-Jeffrey" Goldstein's new wingnut policy on Cindy Sheehan is ... be vewwy vewwy quwiet!!!.

And if (like me) you don't be quiet, you will be labelled an anti-Semite and a troll, then banned:
Gandhi’s been banned. I told him not to call me “Jeffrey.” He didn’t comply.

Posted by Jeff Goldstein | permalink
on 08/17 at 07:52 PM
Or maybe not. Nine minutes later:
Okay, I’ve removed the ban. To answer Gandhi’s question, calling for the dissolution of the Jewish State ("Israel out of Palestine”, etc, with Palestine understood by the groups she’s aligned herself with as encompassing Israel) is a pretty clear indication you’ve pitted yourself against the Jews...

Posted by Jeff Goldstein | permalink
on 08/17 at 08:01 PM
Say WHAT??? Demanding “Israel out of Palestine” is the same thing as “calling for the dissolution of the Jewish State”? And once again we have guilt by association used to justify a filthy attack on a decent, grieving war mom!

So here's Jeffrey, who calls me an anti-Semite, claiming that his Jewish surname has nothing whatsover to do with his stated political agenda (which originally caused him to slander me as a mindless lefty sheep follower of Michael Moore)....

But scratch the surface and what do we find?

An out-and-out Zionist!

UPDATE: Jeffrey gets all excited by a mention in the neocon Weekly Standard. Here's a taste of their intellectual ... um, ... rigour?
The left has to pretend to like Ted Rall. The center-right gets the real thing.
Branding everyone who disagrees with you an anti-Semite. Hilarious entertainment for wingnuts.

UPDATE 2: Anti-Semites! They're everywhere!!!
Plan D: Imprison Half The Iraqi Population?

Less than three weeks ago, Rumsfeld said the US wanted to hand responsibility for Iraqi prison detainees to the Iraqi government "as soon as it is feasible".

But the Iraqi prison population has doubled in the past six months as the insurgency's "last throes" become an unending horror show. There now are about 12,000 prisoners jailed in US military detention facilities in Iraq. And the numbers are still growing.

So not only are the Yanks building more and bigger jails, they are also now deploying 700 US paratroopers as prison wardens.
Where My Taxes Go...

Another taxpayer-funded enquiry, another whitewash:
"Given that those interviewed were being forcibly detained, the meaning of the terms 'interview' and 'interrogation' appear to merge,' the report said."
Dr John Gee, an Australian member of the Iraq Survey Group, and head of chemical and biological weapons disarmament in the Department of Foreign Affairs, who resigned over concerns the March 2004 report from the survey group had been doctored to play down the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, did not appear at the inquiry. He said his employment with the Defence Department limited what he could say.
Serious Planning Gaps

The US State Department warned US Central Command before the invasion of Iraq of ''serious planning gaps' for postwar security:
In a memorandum dated February 7, 2003 - one month before the beginning of the Iraq war - State Department officials also wrote that 'a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally'.
The documents were acquired by George Washington University's National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act.
True Colours

Let it go on the record that right-wing smear tactics have forced Cindy Sheehan to defend herself against lies:
My divorce was in the works way before I came out to Crawford. My husband filed the papers before this all started. It just recorded last Friday. My husband didn’t know that it would become public record, and public knowledge. He had told his lawyer not to serve me with the paperwork or even bother me while I was at Camp Casey. He was trying to do the right thing. He didn’t want me to find out. Enough about that.

Another “big deal” today was the lie that I had said that Casey died for Israel. I never said that, I never wrote that. I had supposedly said it in a letter that I wrote to Ted Koppel’s producer in March. I wrote the letter because I was upset at the way Ted treated me when I appeared at a Nightline Town Hall meeting in January right after the inauguration. I felt that Ted had totally disrespected me. I wrote the letter to Ted Bettag and cc’d a copy to the person who gave me Ted’s address. I believe he changed the email and sent it out to capitalize on my new found notoriety by promoting his own agenda.
Why can't the war-mongers accept that this is just an ordinary, decent woman grieving the loss of her son? Their efforts to characterize her as an anti-Semite or a puppet of radical left wingers say much more about them than about her. Now there are even more angry, grieving parents joining the throng - will they try to slander them all?
For those of you who still trust this administration (your percentage diminishes every day), let me tell you that Chase Johnson Comley did not die to preserve your freedoms. He was not presented flowers by grateful Iraqis welcoming him as their liberator...
And more:
"Our comments are not just those of grieving parents," Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. "They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated."
With Bush still on his bike, Maureen Dowd reminds us that the Bush family insensitive penchant for mis-timed recreation goes back at least a generation. Here's Bush Snr three days after sending soldiers into the Gulf War:
"I just don't like taking questions on serious matters on my vacation," the usually good-natured Bush senior barked at reporters on the golf course. "So I hope you'll understand if I, when I'm recreating, will recreate." His hot-tempered oldest son, who was golfing with his father that day, was even more irritated. "Hey! Hey!" W. snapped at reporters asking questions on the first tee. "Can't you wait until we finish hitting, at least?"

Junior always had his priorities straight.
Remember, these are the people who campaign on "values". As their true colours come shining through, it's little wonder the polls show Bush's support down below 40% in nineteen states (and only above 50% in nine).


Blog Archive