November 29, 2008

Imagine All The People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That really would be change we can believe in.

November 28, 2008

Did We Win?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief History Of US Political Netizenship

Citizenship 2.0

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

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

Therein lies a tale.

Chagos: Pilger Stays On The Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You see? They tried to warn us!

November 27, 2008

What If?

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

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

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

NAHHHH! I don't believe it either!

But what if...?

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

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

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

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

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

November 25, 2008

Still Playing Trickle-Down Economics

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

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

$7.76 Trillion: Heckuva Job, George Exclusive
The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.

November 24, 2008

At 00:17

I learned the truth in 2003

That politics was meant for professionals only

And Op-Ed authors with resumes

Who had an agenda to essay.

The Pulitzer Prizes I never knew

The FAUX News charades that they spewed

Were spent on faces more beautiful

After 8 long years I've learned the truth.

And those of us with ugly ID's

Lacking Teh Credibility

Desperately remain alone

Repenting good links left unknown

That echo through our memories

And call to say "Come dance with me."

And murmur vague obscenities

The Net isn't all it seems

To hopeful teens.

A blogger beset by fancy clowns

Whose links I never could put down

Said prosecute the ones who've served

They oughta get what they deserve.

The rich relationed fat VP

Who found his way to what he needed

With a guarantee of immunity

And no accountability

Is elderly.

Remember those who fought the evil

Battling ideas they thought primaeval

Shrouded in integrity, dubious to you and me

Their financiers will gape at you

In dumb surprise now that payments due

Exceed Accounts Received

In treasury.

To those of us who knew the pain

Of accountability moments that never came

And those whose comments were never seen

Bouncing on the media trampoline.

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling commenters like you and me.

We all watch the news and when we dare

We imagine futures bereft of despair

Inventing presidents on their own

Who address war crimes very well known

They call to say come vote for me

Forget those sad obscenities

Noted by commenters like you and me

At 00:17.

(for Good Celery)

November 21, 2008

Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out

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

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

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

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

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

November 05, 2008

Obama Wins

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

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


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

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

November 03, 2008

24 Hours To Go

And (surprisingly, perhaps) still no surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

How To Vote

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

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

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

"Sprinting Towards The Finish Line"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 02, 2008

Where Are They Now?

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

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

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

November 01, 2008

Bye Bye Cynthia?

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

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

Democracy? Freedom? Puh-lease.


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