September 30, 2006

Back To... Reality???

Wow. I really needed that holiday.

Back to catch up on a week of news and at first sight it all looks like yadda yadda yadda, same old same old.

But then a few stories start jumping out at you. Like the AWB scandal, for example. Finally they get some warm, red blood on the table and then - Cole shuts up shop? Really?

Really. Now watch how a John Howard stooge works, children. And just remember what happened to every other similar enquiry in the past five years. You think Howard might be prosecuted by his own draconian anti-terror laws? Think again.

Then there's the Rep. Mark Foley (GOP of course) paedophile story. What a demented freak. Why is it that the most ardent zealots are always the biggest hypocrites? Hmmn? Could it be something to do with the double standards by which our society lives?

Gotta love this New York Times quote:
Even by the standards of Washington, this revelation stunned Mr. Foley’s colleagues for how openly he had courted danger.
Josh Marshall is hot on the tail of this one, pointing out that the GOP leadership knew of it a year ago. Ouch!

And what the hell is Bob Woodward up to? Trying to make amends with a new book, STATE OF DENIAL?
aking advice on the strategy for Iraq from Henry Kissinger, the controversial Vietnam war-era national security adviser turned secretary of state.

"The role is not an extraordinary one," the spokesman said after speaking to Dr Kissinger.

"The President has a lot of people in, and he listens to them, and Dr Kissinger was one of them."

"Dr Kissinger says he agrees with the overall thrust of American policy. He thinks we're doing the right things. He said he also may have times when he disagrees on details," Mr Snow said.

On another front, Mr Snow denied that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld feuded to the point that he would not return her telephone calls.

"I talked with secretary Rice today and her quote was, 'This is ridiculous, and I told that to Woodward'," said Mr Snow, who added that Dr Rice and Mr Rumsfeld take part in a daily telephone call with the national security adviser.

He stopped well short of denying another bombshell reportedly in Woodward's book: that former White House chief of staff Andrew Card had twice pushed Mr Bush to fire Mr Rumsfeld.
Woodward has wormed his way into the Bush White House, particularly with his flattery of Big Dubya. If he is turning, it could be interesting.

And here's a Bush quote to ponder:
Iraq is not the reason the terrorists are at war against us. If that ever becomes the mind set of the policymakers in Washington, it means we'll go back to the old days of waiting to be attacked and then respond.

September 23, 2006


I am going on holidays for a week.

September 22, 2006

So why did Bush suddenly decide to move prisoners from secret detention centers to Gitmo?
The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.
Got It, Thanks

Daniel Trotta at Reuters wants you to know that the crowds in New York laughing at Hugo Chavez's anti-Bush jokes were "a carefully selected group of leftists and liberals".

In case you missed that, he repeats: there are "Friendly leftist crowds".

And again, just to drive the point home, in case you were not paying attention: "The crowd went wild, but the carefully chosen audiences reflected public opinion outside the American mainstream."

I'm trust Mr Trotta will be sure to put Bush's next "Town Hall Style" speech in a similarly narrow context.
Bush vs. Reality

Dan Froomkin:
On the dominant issue of our time, the president is in denial.

By most reliable accounts, three and a half years into the U.S. occupation, Iraq is in chaos -- if not in a state of civil war, then awfully close. But President Bush insists it's not so.

He says the people he talks to assure him that the press coverage about how bad things are in Iraq is not to be trusted.

You might think that the enormous gulf between Bush's perceptions and reality on such a life-and-death topic would be, well, newsworthy. But if members of the Washington press corps consider it news at all, apparently it's old news. They report Bush's assertions about Iraq without noting that his fundamental assessment of the situation is dramatically contradicted by the reporting from their own colleagues on the ground.
"The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man."

- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Former counsel to the President, John W. Dean, asks Why Are We Suddenly At War With "Islamic Fascists"?
Once it was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But as bin Laden remained at large, it became embarrassing to identify him as the enemy. Then it was simply "terrorists," but, as Newsweek explains, that label did not work because the White House wanted "a single clean phrase that could both define the foe and reassure Americans who were confused by a conflict that had grown much bigger than Osama bin Laden." For a while the Administration tried "Islamism," but that struck many as a war on another religion. They rejected "jihadism," because the term does not always mean bloodshed...

Earlier, the war on terror had morphed into the "global war on terror." In fact, Blumenthal reports, they had been so pleased with the "Global War on Terror," they had medals struck with these words to award to brave U.S. soldiers.

Yet by the summer of 2005, they had decided again that the phrase "global war on terror" was not sufficiently descriptive, because they were dealing with more than "terror." Blumenthal suggests that the White House had finally figured out that "war on terror" described a never-ending battle against a tactic, which is a no-win war.

"It's broader than that," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said at the time. Rather than merely declaring war on the tactic of terrorism, he claimed, the Administration had launched "a global struggle against extremism." Hadley wanted to drop "the gloomy vision" of a no-win war, and "offer a positive alternative." So until recently the Administration called it "a global struggle against violent extremism" - with the implied alternative being peaceable moderation.

As the polls show, most Americans are adjusting to this war; they are far less fearful, and thus, fear is less likely to drive them to the polls or affect their votes when they get there. So the White House has now adopted the favorite buzzword of the hard right wingers: Islamic fascists, or Islamofascists.
Kinky S&M Freaks

Ted Rall looks at GOP double standards on homoerotic sex:
In order to work in American military intelligence, it seems, you really have to like looking at wet naked men with hard, erect nipples. In particular, it helps to be into wet naked Middle Eastern men. As a guy who looks away from other dudes in locker rooms, I doubt I'd fit in.

Now one right-wing Republican, George W. Bush, is fighting a gang of right-wing Republican senators over homoerotic torture tactics. The debate isn't about whether, but rather what kind, of homoerotic torture ought to be permissible. Bush is pretty much a whatever-it-takes, pro-flashlight-raping freak. Senators John McCain and John Warner are a little more vanilla. They want to set a few limits.
(Now if this post doesn't get my blog a few hits, I don't know what will).
Global Bully

US 'threatened Pakistan' after Sept 11:
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said that after the September 11 attacks the United States threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate with America's war campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Musharraf, in an interview with CBS news magazine show 60 Minutes that will air on Sunday, said the threat came from Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage and was given to Musharraf's intelligence director.

"The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age'," Musharraf said.
Given that Bush and Musharraf are due to meet today, this is yet another a sign of where things are heading.

September 21, 2006

The AWB Scandal Gets Very Messy Indeed

The Age reportsthat BHP Billiton vice-president Tom Harley and former Australian ambassador to the US Michael Thawley were among the special guests invited to US President George Bush's official Washington reception in May to honour Prime Minister John Howard. Both men have emerged as key players in the AWB inquiry.
Mr Harley has been central to BHP's push to secure oil fields in Iraq through its controversial affiliate Tigris Petroleum.

Mr Thawley, now working in the private sector, successfully executed the Howard Government's orders to get a US Senate committee to drop its 2004 probe into AWB's payment of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein...

More details about Mr Harley's role in the kickbacks affair emerged yesterday as the Cole inquiry released a new batch of documents, among them a March 2003 BHP position paper detailing plans to secure a lucrative oil field in Iraq as soon as Saddam was out of power.

The paper noted that Mr Harley, an influential behind-the-scenes figure in the Liberal Party, would be "exerting influence" on the "Coalition Governments" involved in the Iraqi invasion. Former British foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind was to monitor political developments for BHP.

In May 2003, the pair briefed Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on BHP's and Tigris' oil plans, asking him to lobby the US Government on their behalf.
These are big fish, with even bigger connections. The Cole inquiry could yet become an unpleasantly close-up look at some of the buried realities of our precious Western Democracy. The results may be rather disturbing. They might trigger a massive reappraisal of who we are as a nation, and where we are heading.

But, of course, they probably wont.
Freedom On The March - NOT!

WaPo highlights some major discrepancies in Bush's 'Freedom Agenda':
With the president's attention focused on the Middle East, the state of democracy elsewhere in the world does not rate as high on his priority list...

"The president's freedom agenda is inherently selective," said Thomas Carothers, head of the democracy project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "We care very much about democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, but . . . Thailand's just not part of the story, so this falls off the map a bit."

Thailand is hardly the only example. Bush strongly supports Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president who took power in a military coup, and plans to meet with him at the White House twice in the next week. Bush will also host Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the end of next week despite the suppression of opposition parties, newspapers and human rights groups in the oil-rich Central Asian republic.

The administration has likewise embraced autocratic leaders in such disparate places as Azerbaijan and Ethiopia while generally tempering criticism of anti-democratic policies in Russia and China. Even in the Middle East, Bush has treaded lightly in nudging allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to reform...

In Ukraine, the popular coalition that led the "Orange Revolution" of December 2004 has splintered and the new prime minister is the same one the street protests targeted. In Kyrgyzstan, the brother of the president who took office after the revolution of March 2005 has been accused of trying to frame an opposition leader by planting a heroin-filled wooden doll in his luggage.
Even if you judge his record on his own terms, Bush has been a failure.
Do gas prices drive Bush's ratings?
Statisticians who have tracked gasoline prices and Bush's approval ratings since his inauguration have found a nearly constant relationship: As gas prices rise, his standing falls. As gas prices fall, his ratings rise...

"Gasoline price displays, changing daily, hit people directly where they live," Stuart Thiel, an economist at DePaul University in Chicago, wrote on his Web site,

A statistical analysis by Doug Henwood, editor of the liberal newsletter Left Business Observer, found an "uncanny" 78 percent of the movement in Bush's ratings could be correlated with changes in gas prices.
Saddam Judge Death Watch

I don't know which is wierder: the fact that US authorities in Iraq were "blind-sided" by the Iraqi government's decision to remove Saddam's judge, or the fact that TIME thinks that fact is so important you can hang a whole story on it.

Do the Iraqis have real sovereignty or not? If so, this is not a story. If not, the media should stop pretending any of Bush's lies are true.

For the judge involved, this decision appears to be a death sentence:
The removed judge will likely be transferred to a court that meets outside the fortified Green Zone — where there will be no guarantee he will have the same level of security around him he has now, according to a senior Iraqi official.
Israelis in Iraq:
Former Israeli commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers in northern Iraq to protect a new international airport and in counter-terrorism operations, the BBC television reported on Tuesday.

Former Israeli special forces soldiers entered Iraq from Turkey in 2004 to train two groups of Kurdish troops...

"Newsnight" also reported that an Israeli security firm called Interop and two Swiss-registered subsidiaries, Kudo and Colosium, were among the main contractors at Irbil airport, providing security fencing and communications equipment.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told "Newsnight" that Israel had not authorised any firms to do defence work in Iraq. Companies would be prosecuted if police found they had broken export laws, he said.

Molly Ivins on the presidential 3-year-old:
Sometimes I'm convinced this is a war of words. Should we call it surveillance or eavesdropping? Is the detainee issue about holding terrorists, or is it about torturing them and then trying them without telling them what evidence we have against them? If we stop calling it eavesdropping plus torture with kangaroo trials, will it stop being eavesdropping, torture and kangaroo trials, and become "anti-terrorist activity"? Who gets to name things? Would a rose by any other name, like skunkwort, smell as sweet?
"Fear dictates everything we do."

Just another day in Bush's Iraq:
As I took a right turn on Munadhama Street, I saw a man lying on the ground in a small pool of blood. He wasn't dead.

The idea of stopping to help or to take him to a hospital crossed my mind, but I didn't dare. Cars passed without stopping. Pedestrians and shop owners kept doing what they were doing, pretending nothing had happened.

I was still looking at the wounded man and blaming myself for not stopping to help. Other shoppers peered at him from a distance, sorrowful and compassionate, but did nothing.

I went on to another grocery store, staying for about five minutes while shopping for tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. During that time, the man managed to sit up and wave to passing cars. No one stopped. Then, a white Volkswagen pulled up. A passenger stepped out with a gun, walked steadily to the wounded man and shot him three times. The car took off down a side road and vanished.

No one did anything. No one lifted a finger. The only reaction came from a woman in the grocery store. In a low voice, she said, "My God, bless his soul."

I went home and didn't dare tell my wife. I did not want to frighten her.
America Go Bye Bye Now?

As Think Progress notes, even Bush's allies in the Middle East are now telling him that his misguided "War On Ahem" is badly off track.

Here's Karzai:
Military action in Afghanistan alone, therefore, will not deliver our shared goal of eliminating terrorism.
And Musharraf:
Each new battleground involving an Islamic state has served as a new breeding ground for extremists and terrorists. Indiscriminate bombings, civilian casualties, torture, human rights abuses, racial slurs and discrimination only add to the challenge of defeating terrorism.
And Jordan’s King Abdullah:
There can be no just global order when aggression and occupation are permitted to take the place of international law.
This little episode could be a sign of where things are heading:
President George W. Bush said on Wednesday if he had firm intelligence that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, he would issue the order to go into that country after the al Qaeda leader.

His statement drew an immediate response from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who said Pakistan would handle such a situation itself. Musharraf is extremely sensitive about possible foreign military intervention inside his borders.
Like Bush's allies in the GOP, his international allies have to face reality or face losing their sorry asses.
Tony Judt:
America’s liberal intellectuals are fast becoming a service class, their opinions determined by their allegiance and calibrated to justify a political end.
Kofi Annan ends 10 years in office on December 31:
"The events of the last 10 years have not resolved, but sharpened, the three great challenges I spoke of - an unjust world economy, world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law. As a result, we face a world whose divisions threaten the very notion of an international community, upon which this institution stands."
Spinning The Good News On Global Warming

The good news is that you may soon be able to take a cruise ship all the way to the North Pole.

The bad news is that's because ice there is cracking up. But only the cursed liberal media would focus on that negative analysis.
God Says USA Can Torture

According to a poll by Angus Reid Consultants, 57% of Americans think the CIA should abide by the Geneva Conventions. That's a clear majority, which on the surface looks pretty good, right?

But a whopping 38% still think the CIA should be "able to use more forceful interrogation techniques than the Geneva Convention standards". Throw in the 2% of prevaricators and you have two in every five US adults thinking the CIA need not abide by the Geneva Conventions.

Here's my problem with that: how do these people feel about other nations applying the same standards? Should the KGB abide by the Geneva Conventions? Should the Chinese? Iranians? Yeah, right...

So what makes the USA so damn special? The same old story, isn't it? "God is on our side!"

Is that true? Is the USA really so special? US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales seems to think so. He insists the USA acted lawfully when it sent Maher Arar to Syria, where he was tortured, simply because his name appeared on a US government terrorist list. Gonzales says Mr Arar's removal was a deportation, and not a "rendition", but even if it were a rendition, that would be OK as well.

But the USA considers Syria an outlaw state and regularly accuses if of state-sponsored terrorism. So if they were not sending Mr Arar to Syria to be tortured, why the hell were they sending him there? Has anybody dared asked Gonzales or Bush? I mean, what the hell does it say about US-Syrian relations when such bizarre back-door prisoner handling is being conducted???

Never you mind! God works in mysterious ways - that's all you need to know.

PS: Mr Arer was an engineer who had been living as a citizen in Canada for two decades. And he was totally innocent. And U.S. officials lied to their Canadian counterparts about his case. And Bush still says Syria is "a crossroad for terrorism." So there.

September 20, 2006

Thai Military Coup

All you need to know about the Thai Military Coup is that THE KING REMAINS IN CONTROL. I have been to Thailand half a dozen times. It's a very odd culture - the best of peaceful dignity alongside violent kick-boxing and other manifestations of craziness. But what holds it all together is the monarchy. Nearly every taxi, shop and cafe in Bangkok has a photo of the King on display. He's the man.

PM Thaksin is an idiot right-wing stooge ass. Good riddance.

UPDATE: As every student of US foreign policy knows, there are "good" coups (e.g. Chile 1973, or more recently Venezuela) and "bad" coups. So what's this? Well, the Bush administration, the European Union and even Alexander Downer have criticized the coup as a blow to what they call "Democracy" (I think that word needs to be enclosed in quote marks these days: what they are really talking about is rampant globalized capitalism).

But surely Thailand is a good example of a country where such Western-style "Democracy" is not necessarily the best option. The monarchy in its current form does a fairly good job, from what I can see. This article reinforces what I said earlier:
The coup is also a response to the Islamic insurgency raging in southern Thailand, and public displeasure with Thaksin's strong-arm tactics. Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, the army commander who led the coup, had advocated a peaceful solution. As a Muslim, he was long seen as a force for healing whose hands were tied by Thaksin's policies.

It remains unclear what role, if any, the king played in removing Thaksin. What is clear, however, is the chain of events that led to Thaksin's ouster - a series of missteps that prompted accusations he was challenging the king's authority, an unpardonable act by Thai standards...

In April, the king made a rare TV appearance, prodding the courts to intervene to resolve a political deadlock that had left the kingdom with a caretaker government and no working legislature.

The judges duly ruled, paving the way for new elections. But Thaksin angered many by refusing to bow out.

"The anti-Thaksin forces in the top levels of government - and perhaps in the palace - realized that Thaksin could still be prime minister after the new election and there was no way out, and they were fed up," said Paul Handley, author of "The King Never Smiles," a biography that portrays Bhumibol as a major player in Thai political developments over the decades.
I am sure many in the USA would be happy to have a quiet and humble King who could boot Bush out of the Oval Office right now.
The king is venerated for his Buddhist principles and his common touch, manifested in decades of tireless face-to-face work among the rural poor. He rarely enters the political arena, but when he does, everyone listens and obeys - something Thaksin was seen as reluctant to do.

"Thaksin failed to realize that the king has been on the throne for 60 years and he's no fool," said Sulak. "The man is old and Thaksin thought he could play around with him - and it was a dangerous game."
Ted Turner says the Iraq War was dumb, has caused "incalculable damage" and will take 20 years to overcome "if we just act reasonably intelligently.":
"It will go down in history, it is already being seen in history, as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by anybody. A couple of others that come to mind were the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour and the German invasion of Russia.

"It literally broke my heart. You don't start wars just because you don't like somebody. ... I wouldn't even start a war with Rupert Murdoch."
A Short History Of The Bush Administration

Lew Rockwell provides an extended excerpt from Sidney Blumenthal's new book, How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime:
No one predicted just how radical a president George W. Bush would be. Neither his opponents, nor the reporters covering him, nor his closest campaign aides suggested that he would be the most willfully radical president in American history.

In his 2000 campaign, Bush permitted himself few hints of radicalism...
Blumenthal charts the first few months of Bush's first term, from the brutal politics of Florida 2000...
The constitutional system had ruptured, but it was widely believed by the political class in Washington, including most of the press corps, that Bush, who had benefited, would rush to repair the breach. The brutality enabling him to become president, while losing the popular majority, and following a decade of partisan polarization, must spur him to make good on his campaign rhetoric of moderation, seek common ground and enact centrist policies. Old family retainers, James Baker (the former Secretary of State who had been summoned to command the legal and political teams in Florida) and Brent Scowcroft (elder Bush's former national security adviser), were especially unprepared for what was to come, and they came to oppose Bush's radicalism, mounting a sub rosa opposition. In its brazen, cold-blooded and single-minded partisanship, the Florida contest turned out in retrospect to be an augury not an aberration. It was Bush's first opening, and having charged through it, grabbing the presidency, he continued widening the breach...

Domestic policy adviser John DiIulio, a political scientist from the University of Pennsylvania, who had accepted his position in the White House on the assumption that he would be working to give substance to the president's rhetoric of "compassionate conservatism," resigned in a state of shock. "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," DiIulio told Esquire magazine. "What you've got is everything – and I mean everything – being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis ... Besides the tax cut ... the administration has not done much, either in absolute terms or in comparison to previous administrations at this stage, on domestic policy. There is a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded non-partisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism." ...

By September 10, Bush held the lowest job approval rating of any president to that early point in his tenure. He appeared to be falling into the pattern of presidents who arrived without a popular mandate and lasted only one term...
This article is really like a pocket guide to the past 6 years. A handy reference and a good starting point for anyone who has just started waking up to the horrible reality.
Think For Yourself

Keith Olbermann says Bush owes the USA an apology:
This is a frightening, and a dangerous, delusion, Mr. President.

If Mr. Powell's letter -- cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive -- can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance, what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter, or written to you by a colleague?
"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush.

They were the words of Thomas Jefferson.

He put them in the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that anti-thetical to the status quo just now?

Would you call it "unacceptable" for Jefferson to think such things, or to write them?

Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued - a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger; that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone who disagrees.

Or what will next be done to them.
Olbermann suspects the real reason for Bush's hissing fit is the threat of legal action that hangs over his criminal head.

And Olbermann wants further apologies, too - "for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago..."

The latest local government impeachment initiative comes from Wisconsin Rapids:
It took Dolan roughly six weeks to collect 921 petition signatures door-to-door throughout the city, with help from Madison Veterans for Peace.

“They’re killing our kids for no reason at all,” Dolan said. “It’s horrible, the lies that the administration keeps throwing out.”

Even if it does pass the November general election, some believe the referendum will have very little actual effect.

“The problem is those sorts of expression of local opinion don’t add up to a national movement,” said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin.
I disagree. Every little bit helps.
The greatest, most sophisticated military force in history is fighting against children :
At one checkpoint, soldiers said hundreds of rocks rained down on their vehicles as they sealed off a neighborhood during a house-to-house search for weapons and militants...

Children recently have begun hurling bottles of oil and even a homemade firebomb at U.S. vehicles, soldiers say.

One child recently jumped on a passing convoy and untied the straps on a load of supplies. Another young boy ran alongside a moving Stryker vehicle before throwing a rock at a soldier.
Pas De Poodle Pour La France

It's not just GOP candidates who don't want to be seen with Bush. France's right-wing Presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, is being widely criticized after this meeting with Bush.

Popular Socialist candidate Segolene Royal says her own diplomacy "will not consist of kneeling before George Bush":
"When Nicolas Sarkozy aligns himself with George Bush, it means he approves of pre-emptive wars, it means he accepts this theory of war as good against evil."
Why? Because They Can

Paul Krugman says there is really only one reason why the Bush administration is so determined to torture people:
To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.
There is another reason too, of course: to intimidate opponents, both domestically and internationally.

But I doubt the Bush Boyz have thought it all through that carefully. They just do this sort of shit out of habit. It's how they got where they are today.
Vote Wal-Mart

Given that the US retail giant is set to buy Australia's Coles, Aussies might care to know that Walmart is getting (openly) involved in politics.

The Siebel Edmonds movie.

Barack Obama meets Bush:
On his first meeting at the White House, he remembers shaking the hand of the president, who turned to “an aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.”

“Not wanting to seem unhygienic,” the senator writes, he also “took a squirt.”
Isn't that kinda wierd? Hand cream? Is Bush a Girly Man?
Ye Gods!

Murdoch's News Corp has a new Christian Film Division...

Joshua Micah Marshall:
Don Rumsfeld has apparently put Abram Shulsky (head of what was once the 'Office of Special Plans' (OSP)) in charge of a new DOD outfit, modeled on the OSP, to stovepipe bogus Iran intel from the likes of Manucher Ghorbanifar straight to administration leaders.

That tells me that fundamentally Condi Rice is just window-dressing, like her predecessor Colin Powell, that the Cheney-Rumsfeld Axis remains in place and in charge and that we'll probably be at war with Iran before too long unless someone can stop them.

September 19, 2006


The Boston Globe:
MY DAUGHTER started high school last week. This milestone was marked by the arrival in our home of a ream of paperwork. Along with the usual bureaucratic permissions, I found tucked into this package a seemingly innocuous form that carries extraordinary consequences: failing to fill it out might result in my daughter being harassed, assaulted, or being fast-tracked to fight in Iraq....
As soon as I saw the heading, I knew this was a story for me... Borat gnaws at Kazakh chief.
"I can say unambiguously that the question of this film or of the art, let's call it that, of Mr Sacha Baron Cohen, will not be discussed (by Nazarbayev and Bush)," Yerzhan Ashykbayev, a Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a news conference in the capital Astana...

The Foreign Ministry's Ashykbayev has some form on Borat who has clearly got under the government's skin.

He was the one who last November threatened Cohen with "legal measures" and, in language echoing the Central Asian state's Soviet past, said the ministry did not rule out that the comedian was "serving someone's political order".

That backfired. Dressed as Borat, Cohen, who is Jewish, said: "I like to state, I have no connection with Mr Cohen and fully support my government's decision to sue this Jew."

The government has learnt its lesson. Official pronouncements have since been dull and on message: we understand that it's satire, we just don't like it.
Visit for more.
World's Biggest Flip Flop

Well, this will make John Howard and a lot of other people look pretty stupid, won't it?
President Bush is preparing an astonishing U-turn on global warming, senior Washington sources say.

After years of trying to sabotage agreements to tackle climate change he is drawing up plans to control emissions of carbon dioxide and rapidly boost the use of renewable energy sources.

Administration insiders privately refer to the planned volte-face as Mr Bush's "Nixon goes to China moment"...
But it will sure give the media something new (besides Iraq, GOP scandals, etc) to talk about. Sing along now, folks:
You gotta know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em...
Coming Down The Tube...

This important warning is probably a couple of years too early:
It is said that government exists to serve the people. But in America it is now the other way round.

The people struggling under the oppressive weight of a corrupt and immoral government do not owe that government their allegiance. Indeed, they must not cooperate with it in any way. They must oppose it with all their will and conscience, and do everything in their power to undermine it. They must expose it for the fraud it is and hold it accountable to the people. Sucking the life blood out of the working people is not public service—it is parasitism!

Neither should the people pledge allegiance to the flag. Let them pledge their allegiance to truth and to one another in the great class struggle that has always characterized our nation. Without our cooperation there can be no war, no Plutocracy, and no empire. We must do away with the classes and recognize all people as equals. The wealth of our nation must be distributed equitably, rather than divided almost exclusively among the elite.

No person of conscience should take up arms against his/her working brethren in other nations or at home. Those who choose to serve in the military should do so as non-violent conscientious objectors. They must refuse to be the instruments of corporate Plutocracy by serving humanity rather than empire. Soldiers must not allow their government to make them complicit in war crimes that they will carry with them the rest of their lives. No thinking person in any capacity should ever blindly carry out orders without consulting their conscience and weighing the evidence. Otherwise they are mere automatons and not sentient beings at all.

The people must educate themselves in order to counter the powerful conscience altering propaganda that pervades our culture and shapes public opinion. They must learn history and empower themselves. Then it will be possible to connect the dots and see things as they really are with historical perspective.

We must think beyond geopolitical borders, beyond political parties; past the familiar labels of liberal and conservative. Working class conservatives and working class liberals alike are exploited by those in power. We must set aside the petty differences that keep us apart and seek common ground to defeat our common enemy—corporate Plutocracy.

Finally, we must organize as a class across national borders and forge global solidarity with working class people everywhere. Perhaps, then, the next time they give a war no one will come.
I swear, the first twenty seconds of this video are as scary as any Al Quaeda propaganda you have seen: VIDEO: Kids At Jesus Camp Worship To Bush Picture.
Who Are We? Where Are We Going?

Contempt for Life:
"As individuals, we all want a safer, cleaner, less violent world. We all prefer to think we adhere to Schweitzer's ethic of 'reverence for life' and that we are 'civilized.'

But, collectively, humankind behaves in the opposite manner. It's as if our species was born with the seed of insanity in our DNA, doing things guaranteed to cause harm to other species and each other, seeming to delight in inflicting pain.

Because it's so easy to mouth platitudes like 'pro-life' or 'compassionate conservative,' language itself is a victim of this suicide. Jettisoning the sole means by which we communicate is to collectively step into a black abyss where everything is relative, where hate and love are the same and 'reverence' could really mean 'contempt.'

Enter George W. Bush...

September 18, 2006

You know, if George Orwell wrote "1984" today, he probably wouldn't be able to get it published. Certainly not as fiction, anyway: it's just way too close to reality.
No Common Sense, No Sense of Common Decency

Bush struggles to understand the Geneva Conventions:
"Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's very vague. What does that mean, 'outrages upon human dignity'?"
And National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is also haveing problems:
"I'm saying that nobody knows what humiliating treatment is. What does it mean?"
Didn't these guys have mothers?
Fourteen Thousand Terrrrrrrrsts!!!

U.S. war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000.
Iran Invasion Slated For October

TIME magazine leaks some US Naval pre-planning:
The first message was routine enough: A "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.

What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed—but until now largely theoretical—prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.
An October attack on Iran would make the November Congressional elections basically a referendum on that new war, rather than the failed one in Iraq.
A quarter of a century later, the USA is still warning Nicaraguans not to back the Sandinistas:
“It’s one thing to be truly democratic. It’s another thing to do what the Sandinistas really have done, which is to distort and manipulate democracy for partisan and personal benefit,” Mr Trivelli [US ambassador to Nicaragua] said.
People Power: An Alternative To Corporate Greed

George Galloway, MP:
It is not only in the Arab and Muslim world that confidence is surging forward that there is an alternative to domination by the US, global corporations and their local junior partners. The same is happening in Latin America where President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela personifies a new radical generation, one that met its counterparts in the Middle East and the older generation of the great Fidel Castro at the Non-Aligned Summit this week.

This, I believe, is going to be the lasting legacy of the last five years: a renewed global movement in direct opposition to the Pentagon and the multinationals on whose behalf it acts as enforcer. The stakes are extraordinarily high...

It is going to take the power of the popular resistance from Caracas to Cairo to throw back that behemoth and settle accounts with all the quislings who it depends upon but who crucially also depend on it.
West Won’t Win Afghan War :
As Canadian, American and British soldiers continue to die in Afghanistan, it is time the truth be told about this ugly little war.

Much of what we’ve so far been told by our governments and media has been untrue, wishful thinking, or crass jingoism.

The respected European think tank, Senlis Council, which focuses on Afghanistan, just reported the Taliban is “taking back Afghanistan” and now controls that nation’s southern half. According to Senlis, southern Afghanistan is suffering “a humanitarian crisis of starvation and poverty.

“U.S. policies in Afghanistan have re-created the safe haven for terrorism that the 2001 invasion aimed to destroy,” Senlis found.

Claims that withdrawing Western garrisons from Afghanistan or Iraq will leave a void certain to be filled by extremists are nonsense. Half of Afghanistan and a third of Iraq are already largely controlled by anti-Western resistance forces.

Were it not for omnipotent U.S. airpower, American and NATO forces would be quickly driven from the area.
Every Great Castle Needs a Moat

The latest cunning plan for Iraq:
“We’re going to build a trench around Baghdad so we can control the exits and entrances so people will be searched properly,” he said in a telephone interview. “The idea is to get the cars to go through the 28 checkpoints that we set up.”

American officials said the military had approved of the plan, which has been in the works for weeks. General Khalaf said he did not know how much the construction would cost or how many laborers would be employed...

It is unclear whether Baghdad can really be sealed off, given the city’s circumference of about 60 miles. With so much terrain, guerrillas might find areas that are unconstrained by the trenches and checkpoints. On the main roads, traffic could be snarled for miles, especially in the final days of Ramadan, when people travel to celebrate with their families.

Studies are still being conducted to determine how traffic patterns will be affected.
From the NYT.
Al Gore's New Book

"The Assault on Reason". WaPo says it could be timed to support his 2008 Presidential bid.
Abu Bakker Qassim, who was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 to May 2006, writes an Op-ed for the New York Times:
I HAVE been greatly saddened to hear that the Congress of the United States, a country I deeply admire, is considering new laws that would deny prisoners at Guantánamo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.

I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America’s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantánamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only the country’s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right — or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guantánamo today. Will they be stranded there forever?

Without my American lawyers and habeas corpus, my situation and that of the other Uighurs would still be a secret. I would be sitting in a metal cage today. Habeas corpus helped me to tell the world that Uighurs are not a threat to the United States or the West, but an ally. Habeas corpus cleared my name — and most important, it let my family know that I was still alive.

Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guantánamo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.

I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland “Xinjiang,” which means “new dominion” or “new frontier.” My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as “terrorism” all political opposition from the Uighurs.

Amnesty International reports that East Turkistan is the only province in China where people may face the death penalty for political offenses. Chinese leaders brag about the number of Uighur political prisoners shot in the head. I was punished for speaking against China’s unjust policies, and I left because of the threat to my life. My search for work and refuge took me from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I heard about the Sept. 11 attacks for the first time in Guantánamo. I was not aware of their magnitude until after my release, when a reporter showed me images online at an Internet cafe in Tirana. It was a terrible thing. But I too was its victim. I would never have experienced the ordeal and humiliation of Guantánamo if this horrific event had not taken place.

I feel great sadness for the families who lost their loved ones on that horrible day five years ago. And I would be sadder still to see the freedom-loving American people walk away from their respect for the rule of law. I want America to be a strong and respected nation in the world. Only then can it continue to be the source of hope for the hopeless — like my people.
A rare nugget of unadorned truth:
the CIA is an unaccountable bureaucracy, an inefficient behemoth with thousands of apparently demoralised staff, where it seems cronyism, too, has had a place.
From a story in The Australian (linked by TPM, no less).
WaPo asks "Is Jim Baker bailing out the Bushes once again?"
The former secretary of state, James A. Baker III, a confidant of President George H.W. Bush, visited Baghdad two weeks ago to take a look at the vexing political and military situation. He was there as co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, put together by top think tanks at the behest of Congress to come up with ideas about the way forward in Iraq...

Baker himself secured the personal approval of President Bush before signing on. "As I always do," Baker told Texas Monthly, "I said . . . I want him to look me in the eye and tell me he wants me to do this."
Reality Bites

"Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years. It was totally clear that what we are saying is not true. You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing. If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say?"
Unfortunately, that is not Bush, Blair or Howard speaking. It's the Hungarian PM admitting on tape that no European country has done something as boneheaded as we have. I dunno about that - Tony Blair invaded Iraq, you know.
GetUp! Goes To Washington:
This coming week, the US President wants to pass new legislation for trying detainees that's actually far worse than the unfair system the US Supreme Court threw out - and ignoring the facts, our Government barracks from the sidelines. But his new plan is so outrageous that now support from Congress could collapse.

America sees Australia as the closest of allies. At this crucial moment, tell the President of the United States and Congress that another sham system of Guantanamo justice is unacceptable.

The President wants to use the anniversary of September 11 to pass devastating new legislation for trying detainees. It prevents defendants and their lawyers from even seeing evidence against them or confronting witnesses, while allowing prosecutors to use hearsay and evidence obtained through coercion.

If the President is successful, detainees such as David Hicks will never again have access to appeals, or be able to make allegations of torture or mistreatment in the courts.

The American Government has not, and would not ever, allow their citizens to be tried in Guantanamo Bay. Tell them not to create a system of justice for our citizen they wouldn't accept for theirs.

Last month Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock promised David Hicks would be brought home by November if not properly charged. And Australians will hold him to that promise.

But first we need to make certain the US doesn't let the Australian Government off the hook with a system so rigged, even leading Republicans and career military lawyers are protesting.

Send your message right now. Let Washington know the eyes of the world are on them - and we expect the real deal, not another kangaroo court.

Thank you for taking urgent action,
The GetUp team
No News Is Slow News

Pilger: "On 11 September 2001, while the world lamented the deaths of almost 3,000 people in the United States, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that more than 36,000 children had died from the effects of extreme poverty. "

September 15, 2006

Where is the evidence?:
How, for example, can it be possible that on one short morning of September 11, 2001, multiple failures occurred not only in airport security but also in FAA and NORAD procedures? The probability of any one of these failures is low. The probability of all of these failures occurring on one morning is very low indeed. How is it possible that essentially all US security failures of the last 5 or 10 years occurred on one morning? What probability do independent statisticians assign to such an event?

The probability is also extremely low that the only three steel columned buildings believed to have collapsed from fire all failed on the same day from three separate fires.
No Shit, Col

Colin Powell:
"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."
Bush, 9/12/01

From Mahablog:
President Bush met with his National Security Team. After the meeting he assured the nation “we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.”
9/11: When Bush went AWOL (again)

White House lied about threat to Air Force One:
The phony Air Force One story not only exposes the duplicitous methods of the Bush administration, it also underscores the shamelessness and complicity of the media. When the White House came out with the story of a terrorist phone threat against the president’s plane, the media uncritically repeated it, with banner headlines and chilling segments on the evening news. As it has throughout the present crisis, the media functioned unabashedly as a propaganda arm of the government.

But when the White House, two weeks later, retracted the story, most networks failed to even report the fact, as did leading newspapers such as the New York Times. The Washington Post, for its part, buried the government’s about-face on its inside pages. No media outlet made an issue of this incriminating admission, or discussed its broader implications.

Well before the official retraction, it was widely accepted in the Washington press corps that the administration had made up the Air Force One story. In her column in the September 23 New York Times, Maureen Dowd noted that Karl Rove had “called around town, trying to sell reporters the story— now widely discredited —that Mr. Bush didn’t immediately return to Washington on Sept. 11 because the plane that was headed for the Pentagon may have really been targeting the White House, and that Air Force One was in jeopardy, too” (emphasis added).

Dowd and her colleagues believed the government was lying, but the public had no way of knowing the story was not credible since the news media refused to openly challenge it.

There may be another reason for the silence of the press. The story handed out on September 12 by Rove, Fleischer and other White House officials raised issues even more explosive and potentially damning than Bush’s feckless behavior on September 11.

Safire pointed to one such question in his September 13 New York Times column. Referring to the White House claim that the terrorists had knowledge of secret information about Air Force One, Safire asked: “How did they get the code-word information and transponder know-how that established their mala fides? That knowledge of code words and presidential whereabouts and possession of secret procedures indicates that the terrorists may have a mole in the White House—that, or informants in the Secret Service, FBI, FAA, or CIA.”

Safire’s entirely valid question as to how a supposed terrorist could have knowledge of such top-secret and sensitive information has never been taken up by the media at large, or addressed by the government.

If, indeed, such a phone call took place, it would raise an alternate theory of contact between the terrorists and one or another agency of the government at least as plausible as that suggested by Safire: Namely, that the call was not a threat, but rather a tip-off from an informant for the US who had knowledge of the plans and activities of the terrorists.
So if there was a coded threat, how did the terrorists get the codes?

On the other hand, if there was no coded threat, why was Bush kept out of Washington for so long? Was it Bush's decision? Was he terrified? Or was it Cheney and/or Rove's decision to keep him out of the way? And if so, why?

Bob Herbert in the NYT today:
We had elections in New York and around the country on Tuesday. But it seems to me that the biggest issue of our time is getting very short shrift from the politicians, and that’s the fact that the very character of the United States is changing, and not for the better.

One of the things that stands out in my mind amid the memories of the carnage and chaos of Sept. 11, 2001, is the eerie quiet — an almost prayerful quiet — that hovered over a scene on the western edge of Manhattan that afternoon.

I stood for a long time outside the triage center that had been set up at the Chelsea Piers sports and entertainment complex. Sunlight glistened off the roofs of ambulances lined up in military fashion on the West Side Highway. Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel were standing by, waiting for what they thought would be the arrival of legions of seriously wounded victims in need of emergency care.

There seemed to be very little talking. As I recall, most of the people maintained a kind of stunned, awed silence.

The expected onslaught of victims never came. As the afternoon faded, I headed east, along with others, toward the morgue at Bellevue Hospital.

What I thought was the greatest expression of the American character in my lifetime occurred in the immediate aftermath of those catastrophic attacks. The country came together in the kind of resolute unity that I imagined was similar to the feeling most Americans felt after Pearl Harbor. We soon knew who the enemy was, and there was remarkable agreement on what needed to be done. Americans were united and the world was with us.

For a brief moment.

The invasion of Iraq marked the beginning of the change in the American character. During the Cuban missile crisis, when the hawks were hot for bombing — or an invasion — Robert Kennedy counseled against a U.S. first strike. That’s not something the U.S. would do, he said.

Fast-forward 40 years or so and not only does the U.S. launch an unprovoked invasion and occupation of a small nation — Iraq — but it does so in response to an attack inside the U.S. that the small nation had nothing to do with.

Who are we?

Another example: There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we’re in an era in which the highest leaders in the land stoke — rather than attempt to allay — the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are equated with Nazi Germany. We’re told that we’re in a clash of civilizations.

If, as President Bush says, we’re engaged in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” why isn’t the entire nation mobilizing to meet this dire threat?

The president put us on this path away from the better angels of our nature, and he has shown no inclination to turn back. Lately he has touted legislation to try terror suspects in a way that would make a mockery of the American ideals of justice and fairness. To get a sense of just how far out the administration’s approach has been, consider the comments of Brig. Gen. James Walker, the top uniformed lawyer for the Marines. Speaking at a Congressional hearing last week, he said no civilized country denies defendants the right to see the evidence against them. The United States, he said, “should not be the first.”

And Senator Lindsey Graham, a conservative South Carolina Republican who is a former military judge, said, “It would be unacceptable, legally, in my opinion, to give someone the death penalty in a trial where they never heard the evidence against them.”

How weird is it that this possibility could even be considered?

The character of the U.S. has changed. We’re in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many “have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention.”

Even fewer care.

We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we’ve become.
Via True Blue Liberal.
Borat! Borat! Borat!

Speaking of new movies:
In Cohen's new "mocumentary" style film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Cohen plays the fictional Borat, a blundering Kazakh TV reporter who conducts real interviews on unsuspecting Americans while on a tour across the country...

"Please, you come see my film. If it not success, I will be execute," Borat "reports" of his possible execution at the end of the film's trailer on his website.
Where's Chrenkoff?

Atrios goes exploring:
While looking into something I decided to head to the web page of the House Armed Services Committee web page. It's a truly beautiful site.

Then I noticed the "Victory in Iraq Caucus" link led to... nowhere.

Then I decided to see what's been going on under the title "Success stories - building freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan."

After clicking on the link we're helpfully informed that we should "Check back often - because there is a lot of good news to tell about Iraq and Afghanistan."

The last functioning update is from May 18, 2005.
Get Up, Stand Up For David Hicks's Basic Human Rights

Via SMH:
More than 90 per cent of Australians believe Guantanomo Bay detainee David Hicks deserves a fair trial without delay, a Newspoll survey has show.

And they believe he won't get that fair trial in the US-run detention centre in Cuba, the survey revealed.

The survey was commissioned by the group GetUp, which describes itself as an independent political movement to build a progressive Australia.
More Satyagraha, Please!

A new movie featuring Gandhi, Lage Raho Munnabhai (Carry On Munnabhai), is the most popular Bollywood release of the year in Britain and the US:
The plot revolves around Munna, a small-time Mumbai crook played by Sanjay Dutt, who cheats to win a radio quiz about the life of Gandhi. When the inevitably beautiful radio presenter, played by Vidya Balan, invites him to give a lecture on Gandhi, a love-struck Munna hits the library to research his teachings.

There, an apparition of Gandhi - played by Dilip Prabhavalkar - appears to give him advice on his professional, spiritual and love life...

The film appears to have revived interest in Gandhi's life and teachings - especially among the young - where many serious works, and political campaigns, have failed.

A recent survey by the Economic Times newspaper asked Indian students and young business leaders to name their greatest icon. Bill Gates won with 37per cent, ahead of Gandhi on 30 per cent.

In the past week, however, books by and about Gandhi are reported to have been in huge demand. Leaders of India's ruling Congress party have proposed that senior members should see the film to mark the centenary of Satyagraha.
Summary of Findings: Democrats Hold Solid Lead; Strong Anti-Incumbent, Anti-Bush Mood

September 14, 2006

Exploding The Myth Of "Bush's Greatest Moment"

Mahablog has an interesting series called "Ten Days After":
When I reviewed news stories of September 11 and the ten days after I was surprised to find copious foreshadowing of the mess Bush would make. It was all there, from delayed reactions to Iraq to bullying and bluster, and all in the public record. Yet few of us noticed at the time. President Bush’s performance after September 11 is remembered — by the general public and MSM, anyway — as strong and purposeful, yet hindsight reveals many of the same traits that caused him to bleep New Orleans...
From Day One:
The President himself later said he saw the first crash on television before he entered the classroom, but the first crash wasn’t shown on television that soon...
The first media reports of Flight 11’s crash into the World Trade Center began around 8:48, two minutes after the crash happened. [New York Times, 9/15/01] CNN broke into its regular programming at that time [CNN, 9/11/01], though other networks, such as ABC, took a few more minutes to begin reporting. [ABC, 9/14/02] So within minutes, millions were aware of the story, yet Bush supposedly remained unaware for about another ten minutes.
This detail is important because, as we now know, the crisis unfolded for some time with no centralized direction from the President or anyone else in the Administration. NORAD, the FAA, various air traffic control towers, and other governmental agencies were on their own to figure out what was happening and how to work together to manage the emergency. As this timeline makes clear, the result was chaos. Initial news stories to the contrary, the President was mostly out of touch all day. Vice President Cheney presumed to take charge without the constitutional authority to do so, yet he was unable to orchestrate anything resembling a coordinated response. His order to shoot down hijacked planes was issued ten minutes after the last hijacked plane had crashed.
I will be watching this story closely. In fact, I think this sort of "myth-busting" information could be critical to defeating Bush's GOP in the coming elections.
Yes, Virginia, ...

Is There an Islamic Fascism?
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Islamic Fascist. Papa says, 'If you see it on Fox News, it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there an Islamic Fascist?"

Virginia O'Hanlon
c/o Benador Associates
Washington, D.C.
The Phony War:
"I hate the term 'global war on terrorism,' " says John O. Brennan, a CIA veteran who served as the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the primary organization set up by Bush to analyze all intelligence about terrorism and coordinate strategic operational planning. "I hate the tough talk, you know, the 'we're gonna kill these guys' stuff."

Brennan is not alone. In a survey conducted this summer, more than 100 top foreign-policy experts -- including former secretaries of state, CIA directors and high-ranking Pentagon officials -- were asked if the president is "winning the War on Terror." Eighty-four percent said no...

Terrorism is not an enemy, but a method. As such, it can never be defeated -- only contained and reduced. Even if the United States were to wipe out every terrorist cell in the world today, terrorism would be back tomorrow, because new grievances and new cries for revenge will continue to create new terrorists.
Bush Cannot Provide Security In Iraq... or in the USA

Just another day in Baghdad:
A total of 60 unidentified bodies have been found in various parts of Baghdad over the past 24 hours, an Interior Ministry source said.

The unusually high 24-hour tally was recorded despite a month-long security crackdown in Iraq's capital by US and Iraqi troops.

The source said most bodies were bound and shot in the head and many bore signs of torture...
Morgue officials, who says 90% of corpses in Baghdad are victims of violence, have stopped talking to the media. That's yet another sign of a looming news blackout on the country.

In such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Iraqi officials are now turning to Iran for security discussions:
Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “Iran will give its assistance to establish complete security in Iraq, because Iraq’s security is Iran’s security.”
Juan Cole says the Iraq-Iran leaders summit was as much an oil deal lovefest as a security deal:
Iran and Iraq will cooperate in pumping petroleum from oil fields traversed by their common border, and in its refining. One such project could be online within a year. These fields are far from the Sunni Arab areas, and Iran would help with security, so that they could help the government escape the economic blockade the guerrilla movement has placed on the northern Kirkuk fields, which generally cannot export through Turkey because of pipeline sabotage.
But even that clearly suggests that Iran can guarantee security in Shiite areas where the USA cannot.

And in the meanwhile, there is a huge debate going on in the USA about whether they have lost control of the al-Anbar province militarily, politically, or both. What to do? Rep. Murtha has a new resolution calling for the immediate resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Mind you, the Bush Administraion cannot provide security within the USA either:
Congress and the American public must accept that the government cannot protect every possible target against attack if it wants to avoid fulfilling Al Qaeda’s goal of bankrupting the nation, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Osama bin Laden, Mr. Chertoff said, has made it clear that scaring the United States into an unsustainable spending spree is one of his aims. In a 2004 video, Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda leader, spoke of “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”

“He understood that one tool he had in waging war against the United States was to drive us crazy, into bankruptcy, trying to defend ourselves against every conceivable threat,” Mr. Chertoff said at a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We have to be realistic about what we expect and what we do. We do have limits, and we do have choices to make.”
Funny how keen the Bush team suddenly is (less than 2 months from elections) to publicize bin Laden's words, isn't it?

UPDATE: On the flip side of this security issue, the secretary of the US Air Force has advocated testing new weapons on US crowds before deploying them overseas:
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
Funny old world, innit?
Make A Stand For Peace!

Here's a copy of my email to Sir Eric Neal, Chancellor of Flinders University:
Sir Eric Neal,

I refer to a Washington Post story by a Jewish Australian journalist, "Debunking the US/Australia alliance" by Antony Loewenstein. The online URL for this story is:

As you will see if you read the story, Loewenstein raises some important issues in regard to Australia's highly questionable support for the US invasion of Iraq. You may already be familiar with Loewenstein, the author of a new book, "My Israel Question", which closely examines the role of the pro-Zionist lobby in Australian politics.

Not surprisingly, Loewenstein's Post article was met with some rather fierce attacks, of an extremely ad hominem nature.
The person leading the online attacks at WaPo was signed "Dr Sue Williams". She echoed the previously discredited talking point criticisms of Mr Ted Lapkin (from the Australia/Jewish Affairs Council) and notorious pro-war blogger Tim Blair. "Dr Sue Williams" accused Loewenstein of unethical journalism and media manipulation, calling him "infantile", "hypocritical" and "cowardly". She claimed that Loewenstein "is wishing and hopng [sic] that our sons, brothers and friends get blown to pieces in Iraq and Afghanistan." She repeated that he "hopes that his countrymen will be murdered by Islamic extremists." She also repeatedly claimed that "Loewenstein thinks that Lebanon is half way between Haifa and Tel Aviv". Such language is not only puerile but also bordering on slander.

This "Dr Sue Williams" claimed to be a media insider (with access to pre-release publishing house copies of Loewenstein's book) with "over twenty years experience" in Australian institues of higher learning. I have searched the directories of Australian universities looking for someone by this name who meets these criteria and am able to find only one person.

Could you please confirm whether the person signing herself "Dr Sue Williams" at this WaPo URL is the same Ms Sue Williams (not a "Doctor", according to your online directory of staff) who works at Flinders University (English Postgraduate Students, Soc Sc Sth, Room 365S, extension 13556)? If so, please advise whether Flinders University supports her efforts on behalf of the pro-Zionist lobby in Australia? Is this part of her paid work for the University? And if not, please advise what action you will be taking in this regard.
If this is not the same Sue Williams, perhaps you should let your employee know that someone appears to be impersonating her online for questionable purposes.
I realise that this email itself may be considered a form of ad hominem attack, but we live in a time when those granted the privileges of authority are sorely abusing them. Many thousands are dead, while whole countries are decimated and treaties that guarded the peace for half a century are being tossed in the toilet. Our world is hurtling towards a violent, Orwellian future based on calculated lies, political protection rackets and orchestrated lobbying of the type perpetuated by Australia's pro-Zionist lobby, among others. Influential minorities scream for war, war and more war, while the peace-loving majority remain silent, either by choice or by media-fed ignorance.
In such a climate, I hope you will treat this email with the seriousness it deserves.


What is the point of listening to someone when you cannot believe a word they say?"

Meanwhile in Baghdad...
I know it is hard to imagine the situation. Baghdad turned into a ghost city this summer. Things are beyond the tolerance of any human being. No electricity, no fuel in the richest oil country to run even small house generators. 90% of the stores are closed because of the kidnappings and explosions. Some of my women relatives couldn't leave the house to their garden for six months. Can you imagine the house-prisons women are locked in here in Iraq these days? Some of them PhD holders. About two million Iraqi have left since June of this year to close-by countries waiting for a miracle to happen. We have no clue what will happen the next day. There is no planning and no reconstruction. Where are all the oil revenues going? Nobody knows. Every single dollar is being spent on security plans, and we have no security.
From a series of depressing Baghdad emails, posted by Dahr Jamail.

Meanwhile, still no word from Riverbend... It just seems strange to me that she would not have something to say on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
I wonder if Judith Miller's Iraqi-wearing-a-baseball-cap informant was one of the Fadhil brothers? Remember how they won some "Spirit Of America" baseball caps after raising thousands of dollars from their gullible readers? I always wondered if they had the guts to wear them around Baghdad (they are still not dead, so I guess not).

What the f*ck is a "Third Awakening"? What were the First and Second "awakenings"? Has this got something to do with the Old and New Testaments of the Bible? Who is this idiot and how did he get control of the Free World (TM)?

UPDATE: WaPo explains:
The First Great Awakening refers to a wave of Christian fervor in the American colonies from about 1730 to 1760, while the Second Great Awakening is generally believed to have occurred from 1800 to 1830.

Some scholars and writers have debated for years whether a Third Awakening has been taking place, although some identify other awakenings in U.S. history. Bush aides, including Karl Rove, have read Robert William Fogel's "The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism."

Bush has been careful discussing the battle with terrorists in religious terms since he had to apologize for using the word "crusade" in 2001.
From the same meeting:
Bush rejected sending more troops to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas to find Osama bin Laden. "One hundred thousand troops there in Pakistan is not the answer. It's someone saying 'Guess what' and then the kinetic action begins," he said, meaning an informer disclosing bin Laden's location.
"Kinetic" is a big word for George. Wonder who taught him that one? It was probably Rumsfeld, while explaining why Bin Laden still had not been captured.
"We are leveraging the synergy of the kinetic approach, George."

"Yeah. Right. Sure... Whatever."
Bush's Man In Oz

The new US Ambassador pops into parliament and sparks an uproar about the "deliberate Americanisation" of the Australian university system, Al Gore's views on climate change, "knee-jerk anti-Americanism", and of course the AWB wheat kickbacks scandal.
Corporate Warfare

Glen Greenwald's new movie, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, will be screening in Sydney on November 8th (200 FREE seats available) at the UTS tower on Broadway. See details, trailers and buy the DVD at the link above.
Err, Does John Howard Have A Sense Of Humour?

Because I think - I can't be sure - that this was meant to be a joke:
"It's just impossible to imagine what life would be like without television... I, of course, have to think about how incredibly easy it is to resolve media policy. It's just a breeze."
Bush's Death - the video.

September 13, 2006

Call It "Surrender" If You Want

Anthony Gregory:
Five years have passed. It is time to ponder surrender. We must end the war on terror. We must relinquish our foreign policy before it destroys us as it has destroyed so many lives abroad. We must not, however, give in to those in Washington, DC, who hate our freedom and want to take it away. To continue this madness, this war and police statism, is to surrender the last virtues of our national heritage, our liberties, our stature as an admirable model to the peace-loving world. I only hope it is not too late. We have already surrendered so much.
In God We Trust

Lance Armstrong blames the NYT:
"I think it's a pretty nasty attempt by The New York Times to link me to doping through somebody else's admission. You have to read way down in the article until Frankie says, 'I never saw Lance do anything.'

"To me, this is a story about Frankie Andreu," Armstrong said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Los Angeles. "The fact he took drugs has nothing to do with me."

The Times first reported the story on its Web site Monday night. Armstrong could not be reached for comment by the Times because he was attending a meeting of the Presidents Cancer Panel in Minneapolis.
Never criticize the President. Never criticize the troops. And never criticize Lance! USA Number One! Whoo Hoo! Whoo Hoo!
Tim Dunlop is in good form lately:
Sometimes a box of excrement is just a box of excrement, no matter where it’s displayed.
Can't help but wonder if Dick Cheney reads WorkingForChange-This Modern World?
Yeah, remember those old post-Cold War articles:
Historians, considering the last decades of our history, are well aware that millions of Americans didn't need the attacks of 9/11 to fear that their world was spinning out of control. As the Cold War waned, profound differences on "values" issues (previously largely kept under wraps) came out of the closet. Societal anxiety rose. Many wondered how long a nation could endure if it had no consensus on "moral matters" and no obvious authority figures to turn to. Many feared they would lose their moral anchor in an increasingly confusing and challenging world.

This was the real terror that the Bush administration played upon when the Twin Towers fell.
Anyone Remember Chile, 1973???

To the citizens of the United States.

On September 11, 2006 one more anniversary of the tragedy was commemorated.
As a matter of fact, is the 33rd ANNIVERSARY of the subversion of democracy in Chile.

On this date, Sept. 11th, 1973, a military coup INSTIGATED, PLANNED, FINANCED and LOGISTICALLY SUPPORTED by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with full knowledge and direction of the United States Government , took place in Santiago de Chile.
Salvador Allende, a democratically elected Socialist, was overthrown from power and possibly assassinated. A United States friendly DICTATORSHIP ( yes, another one) led by General Augusto Pinochet, for the next 17 years, took control of the destiny of the country with full backing of the U.S. Government
For the next decade, approximately between 14, 000 and 18, 000 citizens of Chile “disappeared” . Murdered, thrown from helicopters into the ocean, burned to death, tortured and incarcerated only because they shared Allende’s thought. That Chile had the right to self-determination and that its natural resources should benefit the citizens of Chile.

They were killed because they believed a better life was possible and should be achieved. Their belief immediately qualified them as Communists. They were killed for giving their support to a Government committed to fight the endless plateau of poverty, degradation and oppression. They were killed because they thought that Socialism was the only way to succeed against injustice …rather than capitalism.
They were killed because of the Sociopath, Paranoid nature of the United States Governments, past and present. Governments that have neglected their responsibilities and obligations to their own people and instead spend HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of the people’s treasure, causing misery , strife, terrible suffering and instability around the world….all in the interest of Corporate America ( the entity that truly pulls the strings of government )

You have your own 9/11 yourselves to decipher. And there are many questions that your Government refuses to answer.

My question to you is…. as citizens of the United States are you aware of the significance of OPERATION PAPERCLIP, OPERATION NORTHWOODS ( worth looking it up), OPERATION COINTELPRO, THE GULF OF TONKIN INCIDENT , OPERATION AJAX…among others ????

The Road To Nowhere

Scott Birchill:
The habit of imagining monolithic anti-Western conspiracies is apparently hard to break. By presenting a range of separate contemporary conflicts as aspects of a "global struggle against terrorism", Western governments have again misled their populations by deliberately conflating several unique and largely disconnected events.

The strategy isn't new. Immediately after the 2001 attacks, the Turks (against the Kurds), Israelis (the Palestinians), Russians (the Chechens), Colombians (rebels), and Chinese (the Uyghur) intensified their domestic conflicts on the retrospective pretext that they too were prosecuting the global war on terror. They weren't, but 9/11 gave them a licence to repress without uncomfortable questions being asked in the West.

Here is a brief sample of what is called the "war on terror", as if the West faces a common unified enemy:

In Palestine, the democratically elected Islamic Hamas Government resists Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and regular incursions into Gaza. Canberra and Washington condemn the means of resistance, including suicide bombings, but not the expanding Jewish settlements on Arab lands that prompt the resistance. The "road map" to peace has collapsed and Washington's credibility as an honest broker is in tatters. The wrong guys won the election.


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