10.31.2005

Goulish Goodies for Hollow Eve


Thanks to Karlo at Swerve Left for this pointer . . . seems that the US is surrounded by WMDs dropped right off our coasts: east, Gulf, west, Hawaii, etc. Everything from nerve gas (a little dab'll do yuh) and mustard gas (an only slightly larger dab'll do yuh) to hydrogen cyanide (Nazis used this stuff in their gas chambers). Guess who put it there. That's right, our own armed services. The scary story can be read at "Army secret surfaces: Deadly chemicals at sea". There's reportedly 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas, plus a half-million chemical filled bombs and land mines, along with 500 tons of radioactive waste. Trick or treat?

Clips from "Blackwater Down" at The Nation:
The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces "join[ing] the hurricane relief effort." But its men on the ground told a different story.

Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone's apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony's railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action . . .

A few miles away from the French Quarter, another wealthy New Orleans businessman, James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority, brought in some heavy guns to guard the elite gated community of Audubon Place: Israeli mercenaries dressed in black and armed with M-16s. Two Israelis patrolling the gates outside Audubon told me they had served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military, and one boasted of having participated in the invasion of Lebanon. "We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives," one of them tells me. "Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists." Then, tapping on his machine gun, he says, "Most Americans, when they see these things, that's enough to scare them."

The men work for ISI, which describes its employees as "veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or 'Shin Beit'), Other restricted intelligence agencies." The company was formed in 1993. Its website profile says: "Our up-to-date services meet the challenging needs for Homeland Security preparedness and overseas combat procedures and readiness. ISI is currently an approved vendor by the US Government to supply Homeland Security services."
Normally, as you know, I'd make some snide comment and move along, but, yeah, this scares me a smidgen.

One scary word . . . Scalito!

Sweet Success, American Imperial Style


From the NYT this morning, excerpts from "Funds Fade, Deaths Rise as Iraq Rebuilding Lags" by James Glanz:
As the money runs out on the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction of Iraq, the officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished, according to a report to Congress released yesterday.

The report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, describes some progress but also an array of projects that have gone awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid . . .

Over all, the report says, since the war began there have been 4,208 death and injury claims filed through the insurance coverage that United States law requires for contractors of any nationality who work on American bases abroad. That number includes claims from bases around the world, and while the government does not report where the incidents occurred, a majority are believed to originate from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those death and injury tolls, which in the chaos of Iraq are probably underreported to begin with, especially among Iraqi contractors, have come about even though more than a quarter of the reconstruction money has actually "been spent on security costs related to the insurgency," the report says . . .

"What you have to keep in mind is the chilling effect of that many deaths and that many injuries," Mr. Barton said. "I think the numbers are huge."
Interesting that the folks who lose in this matrix are not the corporations or The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang, but the Iraqis.

There are longer term implications, however. Consider what our relationship with Europe would be right now if The Marshall Plan had been this "successful." Now apply that to, let's say, 2050. Get the picture? Our kids are going to pay for this war big time, and not only because of enormous deficits and debt.

It becomes increasingly difficult to understand the loyalty of even the most fanatic right-winger to the neo-con agenda, when one considers the utter incompetence of almost everyone involved with this fiasco. Unless . . . hmmmmmmmm . . . this crap is all intentional. For the masters of war, chaos is most profitable, n'est-ce pas?

10.27.2005

Beware of "victories" and "timetables"

Minutes after Yahoo! News reported that Miers had withdrawn, I tried to access this blog and post. Blogger didn't even ping back. I'm not surprised. I'm sure we were all trying to get in at the same time . . . sort of a pre-Fitzmas warm-up. I would counsel much caution in the next few weeks. To think that "Miers Down" is an early indication of victory in sight is understandable, but simply ridiculous.

Let's just imagine for a moment that Rove, Scooter, and Susan Ralston are all indicted; Cheney, scalded but not indicted, develops "new heart problems" and resigns; Delay goes down hard; and Frist steps down under fire. All of these have some likelihood.

Add to this dream the fact that two North Carolina congressmen have filed a resolution (which has several co-sponsors) calling for Doubleduh to set an Iraq withdrawal timetable. And apparently John-Boy Edwards has said out loud that his support for the war and his votes for the war were a mistake.

What, I ask you, does all this really change. For some liberal Democrats to finally begin calling for a "timetable" and mumble some vague apology for their cowardice is just shit. Nothing else. Timetable, my ass. That's like saying, "OK, we'll tolerate 500 more dead kids for this criminal folly and then we'll get out."

Liberals and so-called progressives are probably drooling on their keyboards right about now. But consider these . . .

  • the DLC's Hillary Rodham is still the odds-on favorite to take the nomination for preznut in oh-ate

  • Doubleduh has a whole pig-trough 'o folks he can nominate to the SC - think they're gonna be more to our liking than Scalia, Thomas, Miers, Roberts?

  • no matter what happens in oh-six, Congress will still be chock full of paid-off, paid-up opportunists who will dance and sleep with lobbyists and delete our emails and not show up in support of demonstrations

  • in spite of new evidence that the WTC tower collapse on nine-eleven was the result of planted demolition on the lower floors; in spite of articles of impeachment are actually writing themselves without help from the Senate; in spite of the fact that FEMA's still a cluster fuck, even in Florida; and in spite of the fact that there is new evidence every day of elected and appointed federal and state government officials lining their pockets with public and lobbyist money . . .
nothing is really changing.

Related readings:
Hold Your Elation in Check: Fitzgerald vs. the Bush Administration by Joshua Frank
Why Bush Is Unimpeachable: Cracks Appear in the Constitution by Ted Rall
Theologian Says Controlled Demolition is Now a Fact, Not a Theory at The Progressive Mind

10.26.2005

Shards from a Shattered Mind


Those pesky Africans again: allAfrica.com reports that the "Situation in Sudan's Darfur Deteriorating Sharply, Says UN Refugee Agency Chief". Pieces:
The situation in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region is once again deteriorating sharply, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said, warning of a possible imminent calamity which might have "a devastating impact" on neighbouring countries and on other parts of Sudan.

"What we are witnessing on the ground is a very serious degeneration of the situation," António Guterres told reporters and other guests at an event in London yesterday to mark the international launch of a DVD of the 'Voices for Darfur' concert. "It is extremely nasty, with ugly events," he added . . .

Aid workers increasingly are the focus of attacks and humanitarian agencies say this is seriously hampering their capacity to operate on the ground in Darfur, where nearly 180,000 people have been killed 2 million others displaced since fighting erupted between the Government, allied militias and rebels in early 2003.

"You have three different crises at the moment," Mr. Guterres said. "South Sudan, where peace was established based on the sharing of oil revenues; you have Darfur, and you have eastern Sudan, where the implications are also in relation to the neighbours and the problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia."

Why2K?: Chris Bowers at MyDD points out that "The Number Isn't 2,000". Clip:


The number is not 2,000. It is way beyond 2,000. Even without the Iraqi civilian fatalities, the occupation has cost the lives of at least 5,979 people (again, most of whom are Iraqis). It has also caused tens of thousands of people to become wounded.
Quoted in WaPo, Army Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan said, "The 2,000th soldier, sailor, airman or Marine that is killed in action is just as important as the first that died and will be just as important as the last to die in this war against terrorism". Considering the fact that even if the war was justified, it was supposed to be a war against Saddam Hussein and the hard-core Ba'athists, not against the Iraqi people, I would remind Colonel Boylan that an Iraqi life, a Sunni life, a Shi'ite life, an Afghani life is just as precious as a Brit life, an American life, a Polish life, a West African life. Also, it nauseates me that Doubleduh continues to almost gleefully remind us that there's gunna be more "sacrifice" (read that as "dead kids") all for the cause of "freedom" (note that the only thing that's free in this whole sickly mess is the ride that the masters of war are getting). The American Conservative's Philip Giraldi, in "Money for Nothing: Billions of dollars have disappeared, gone to bribe Iraqis and line contractors’ pockets", describes who and what our military is really fighting for. Excerpts:
The United States invaded Iraq with a high-minded mission: destroy dangerous weapons, bring democracy, and trigger a wave of reform across the Middle East. None of these have happened.

When the final page is written on America’s catastrophic imperial venture, one word will dominate the explanation of U.S. failure—corruption. Large-scale and pervasive corruption meant that available resources could not be used to stabilize and secure Iraq in the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), when it was still possible to do so. Continuing corruption meant that the reconstruction of infrastructure never got underway, giving the Iraqi people little incentive to co-operate with the occupation. Ongoing corruption in arms procurement and defense spending means that Baghdad will never control a viable army while the Shi’ite and Kurdish militias will grow stronger and produce a divided Iraq in which constitutional guarantees will be irrelevant.

The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004 . . .

Where contracts are actually performed, their nominal cost is inflated sufficiently to provide handsome bribes for everyone involved in the process. Bribes paid to government ministers reportedly exceed $10 million.

Money also disappeared in truckloads and by helicopter. The CPA reportedly distributed funds to contractors in bags off the back of a truck. In one notorious incident in April 2004, $1.5 billion in cash that had just been delivered by three Blackhawk helicopters was handed over to a courier in Erbil, in the Kurdish region, never to be seen again. Afterwards, no one was able to recall the courier’s name or provide a good description of him.

Paul Bremer, meanwhile, had a slush fund in cash of more than $600 million in his office for which there was no paperwork. One U.S. contractor received $2 million in a duffel bag. Three-quarters of a million dollars was stolen from an office safe, and a U.S. official was given $7 million in cash in the waning days of the CPA and told to spend it “before the Iraqis take over.” Nearly $5 billion was shipped from New York in the last month of the CPA. Sources suggest that a deliberate attempt was being made to run down the balance and spend the money while the CPA still had authority and before an Iraqi government could be formed . . .

Unfortunately, the corruption of the occupation outlived the departure of Paul Bremer and the demise of the CPA. A recent high-level investigation of the Iraqi interim government concluded that the corruption is now so pervasive as to be irreversible. One prominent businessman estimates that 95 percent of all business activity involves some form of bribery or kickback. The bureaucrats and fixers who live off of bribery are referred to by ordinary Iraqis as “Ali Babas,” named after the character in The Thousand and One Nights who was able to access riches from a treasure cave by saying “open sesame.” For the average Iraqi businessman, there was formerly only one hand out, that of Saddam’s designated minion. Now every hand is out. The educated and entrepreneurial are leaving the country in droves, as is most of the beleaguered Christian minority. Huge government appropriations are approved by Iraqi lawmakers and then simply disappear. Meanwhile, life for the average Iraqi does not improve, and oil production, water supplies, and electricity generation are all at lower levels than they were when the U.S. took control in 2003. The only thing that everyone knows is that all the money is gone and daily life in Iraq is worse than it was under Saddam Hussein . . .

Countless billions will never be accounted for, and the full cost of corruption has yet to be tallied. Sources report that much of the money that was designated for the development of a national army and police force is actually going to units that are exclusively Kurd or Shi’ite in expectation of a day of reckoning over the country’s oil supplies. The Kurds have made no secret of their desire to continue their autonomy-bordering-on-independence and have stated that they regard Kirkuk as their own. The Shi’ites have possession of the oil-producing region to the south and are using their control of the Interior Ministry to fill police ranks with their own pro-Iranian Badr Brigade members as well as militiamen drawn from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army. The Sunnis are the odd men out, virtually guaranteeing that, far from becoming the model democracy the U.S. set out to build, Iraq will descend deeper into chaos—aided in no small part by the culture of corruption we helped to fortify.

Short attention span circus: In spite of what the networks are (or aren't) telling us, Hurricane Katrina has not gone away or been replaced by the Rita and Ophelia and Wilma episodes of Hurricane of the Week. You can read about worker abuse and exploitation perpetrated by KBR, other contractors and subcontractors, and the state, local, and the Federal governments in the Gulf at Jordan Barab's Confined Space. We are heaping distress upon insult on those most devastated in the first place.

War crimes watch: Having engaged in torture, which was illegal, The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang is fighting to make it legal. OK, so check this out . . . work for a compromise: it'll be legal to torture Iraqis and other Muslims, but we also must encourage the torture of any damn body who threatens national security. So, hey, you! Karl!! Scooter!! Dick!!! See this here cattle prod? Bend over!

10.25.2005

PR R US


Although their "stand" on issues seems pretty clear to me ("dump the Republicans so we can be in power again"), the Dumbopublican Party "leadership" is concerned that citizens just aren't sure what it stands for. So . . . as Josephine Hearn, writing for The Hill reports in "Dems test new slogan" . . .
House Democratic leaders are holding a closed-door meeting with members of their caucus this afternoon to discuss a new slogan for the 2006 midterm elections: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better," according to Democratic sources.

Although aides say the slogan has yet to be finalized and is still up for debate, it has already been in frequent use by Democratic leaders on both sides of the Capitol for several weeks . . .

Mike McCurry, who served as a spokesman for the Clinton White House, will lead the discussion at the meeting today. He made a similar presentation on the Senate side with former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and former senior Clinton adviser Doug Sosnik several weeks ago.

Jim Gerstein from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research will present positive polling on the slogan.

"They're going to be looking to get people's thoughts and foster a discussion" of conveying their message, the leadership aide said.

Similar slogans in past election cycles have also polled well but failed to win back either chamber for Democrats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Oh, OK, I'm back. I was just down the hall throwing up. Ucchh! Catchy new slogans. So that's why these shit-for-brains lost in '04. And here I thought it was because they had not one damn thing to offer. Silly me.

Requiem for Rosa


I'm posting this article in its entirety. It's titled "Rose Parks: RIP", by Robert Capozzi at Virginia's The Free Liberal:
Rosa Parks, the brave black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, AL, bus back in 1955, has passed on.

While race relations seem to have gotten better since then, I recently asked an African American friend of mine about the charge that racism played a part in the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. My friend said he thought it had played a part, although perhaps not an overt part like in the days when Ms. Parks had the courage to say "No."

He told me a story about how, in the past year, a policeman in VA had pulled his car over. My friend had moved to VA from out of state, and he still had LA plates (tags) on his car. The policeman said, "You're in Virginia, now, boy."

My friend is hardly a boy. He stands about 6'6", and is all muscle. One doubts if the policeman would have used such language on my friend were he not a policeman, because my friend could, well, let's say, make just about anyone "pay" for such a display of disrespect.

So, thank you, Ms. Parks. You started something 50 years ago that was long overdue. Sadly, some in this country still don't seem to get our founding principle, that everyone is created equal.

Still, there's hope, even for the VA policeman.

Be easy, Rosa, and peace, out.

10.24.2005

Is Karl Rove Already Gone?


Judging from the stutterin' steps of The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's poltical stride lately - looks kinda like a case o' the blind staggers - one could easily surmise that "The Architect" has lost his brick-laying accuracy.

For example, as Michael A. Fletcher and John Pomfret write in the Seattle Times ("Bush steps into Reagan's shadow"),
[Bush] worked to embrace the legacy of Reagan, an icon of modern conservatism, even as his presidency is wobbling under multiple problems, including intensifying criticism from some on the right who say he has betrayed them.

Angry about the staggering cost of several Bush initiatives, including the Medicare prescription-drug plan and the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, some conservatives are pushing back. In Congress, some budget hawks have balked at the Katrina spending, insisting on cuts to offset it. But many of the proposed cuts will affect programs targeting the poor who suffered the most from the hurricane.

Some conservatives are outraged that Bush passed over several well-known and well-respected conservative jurists to nominate White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Miers, who spent decades as a high-powered corporate lawyer but whose constitutional views are a mystery, has been attacked by some on the right as an intellectual lightweight with questionable conservative credentials . . .
In addition, as I warned on the day of her nomination, the Miers nomination was a massive political brain fart. Add to that the now-public hissy-spat with Awnuld, unrest and defections in the State Department (with Condi apparently gearing up for a possible (arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!) presidential campaign in oh-eight), and the preznut hisself tryin' to micromanage FEMA. The once razor-sharp strategic and tactical cuts of Killer Karl seem nowhere to be found.

Might be, doncha think, that even if Snarlin' Karl ain't indicted, he GONE. Good freakin' riddance. The real nice thing about that is that Doubleduh'd still be the resident village idiot of Crawford, Tee Ex if it weren't for Rove, and may again soon be.

A Way Forward (5)


More fuel for the fires I've been setting, intending to enlighten leftists who still insist on clinging to the Democratic Party . . .

An absolutely perfect article at Dissident Voice by Kevin Zeese, "To Create the Democracy We Want: Challenge the Corrupt Two-Party System Don't Participate in It". Excerpts:
Recently, on the anti-Bush, Democratic Party leaning website Daily Kos an open letter was published urging me to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in Maryland rather than independent of the two political parties. Below is my response to the suggestion.

Dear Daily Kosers:

Elections should be about current issues and a vision for the future. For me that vision is of a truly representative democracy. I want Americans to look back 50 to 100 years from now -- when we have a vivid multi-party democracy and say -- “can you imagine in the last century how there were only two major parties and dozens of colas? Boy, were we an immature democracy!” . . .

The two party system reminds me of when I was raising my kids. If they were doing something I didn't like, call it “C,” I would say -- “you can do either A or B.” They felt they had a choice and stopped pursuing “C” but in reality I had already made their choice for them. The two party system is much like that for voters -– treating us as children.

Will either Party challenge the military industrial complex? Will they challenge the pharmaceutical or health insurance industries in order to provide health care for all? What has either Party done to ensure decent jobs at home that pay a living wage? Haven't both parties supported the corporate trade agreements that masquerade as “free trade” but really empower international corporations, undermine the environment, labor standards and consumer protection? Will either Party criticize Israel when it violates international law or the basic human rights of the Palestinian people? Will either Party end the failed war on drugs? Will either Party put in place universal voter registration -- the international standard for elections? Will either Party reduce barriers to third party and independent candidates -- or will they cynically hold onto power by denying democracy? Will either Party cut $300 billion in annual corporate welfare? On all of these and many other issues both parties fail to represent the interests of the American people . . .
Or, I might add, the interests of any damn body on the planet. The parties are about power, not truth and change. Both parties are impoverished. We must form and clearly articulate issues and better-world goals outside of the existing party structure, then pick off those Democrats who wish to follow a new path.

10.22.2005

Saturday Night Dead Redux


My favorite ex-spook Ray McGovern, writing for AlterNet, ponders out loud the nearly unthinkable in "A Long Overdue Frog-March". Slices:
The coming months are likely to see senior Bush administration officials frog-marched out of the White House to be booked, unless the president moves swiftly to fire Fitzgerald -- a distinct possibility . . .

During a speech in Seattle in August 2003, former ambassador Wilson imagined a scene in which police are frog-marching presidential adviser Karl Rove out of the White House. This appeared a bit farfetched at the time, but not now. Indeed, it seems there will be a need for multiple handcuffs and marshals.

From the beginning of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation in January 2004, Wilson expressed confidence that the truth would emerge. And because of Fitzgerald's professionalism and tenacity, we are about to see at least some of the perpetrators of this fraud get their comeuppance. Normally, Schadenfreude is exceedingly hard to resist in such circumstances. But it is harder still to allow oneself any joy at the misfortune of others, when the focus needs to be placed on the huge damage already done to our country, its values, and its reputation.

When the Watergate scandal reached a similar stage in October 1973, President Richard Nixon, ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire the intrepid special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson resigned rather than carry out Nixon's order; and so did his deputy William Ruckleshaus. So Nixon had to reach farther down into the Justice department where he found Robert Bork, who promptly dismissed Cox in the so-called Saturday Night Massacre.

Fitzgerald is at least as vulnerable as Cox was. Indeed, in recent days some of the fourth estate, Richard Cohen in the Washington Post and John Tierney in The New York Times, for example, seem to have accepted assignments to help lay the groundwork for Fitzgerald's dismissal.

Will the White House decide to fire special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and simply absorb the PR black eye, as Nixon did? There is absolutely nothing to prevent it. Can you imagine Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refusing on principle an order from President Bush?
My reaction - after feelin kinda giddy - is that Doubleduh is probably better off taking the hit and letting indicted folks resign. Firing Fitzie just might piss off enough Republicans in the Senate to make impeachment a possibility. Remember, Doubleduh'll be gone in three years max . . . but them thar Sinnaters need tuh get ree-eelected. As Ray says in the article, "Stay tuned."

10.21.2005

Long Past Time to Get Real


Although I'm a few yards to the left of the folks at Julien's List, I just have to point y'all to 'Bean's post "If another liberal group asks me to protest . . ." A clip or two:
Newsflash to PFAW and MoveOn: Nobody gives a shit if we protest. The media ignores us, the citizens ignore us, the politicians ignore us, and the world goes on. Sure, it worked for Cindy Sheehan, but we don't all have children to sacrifice in Iraq to give us credibility and, sadly, her unfortunately-dead son is why she has credibility.

Notice how the Mainstream Media photographs protesters at long-distance to make it seems there are so few? Notice how it's always the pink-haired, pierced-and-tattooed Goth types who are in the center of the images?

Notice how little happens?

Notice how we keep losing? . . .

And you folks still stuck in the 1960s?

Kiss off!

It's pretty damn clear it ain't working DESPITE the Horror-Show Gravy Train of failure the conservatives are giving us: it's time we grew up and learned how to play an honest, hard-assed, aggressive game of hardball.

So far, playing nice has gotten us not only out of the driver's seat, we're not even at the gas-station pay phone: this state of affairs MUST change!
You know, of course, that I just don't think this state of affairs will change. But this is just a great post. Thanks, 'Bean!

10.20.2005

Does the noise in his head bother you?


An AP story today quoted Preznut Doubleduh as describing the turmoil around him as "background noise." He said he wuz gunna ignore it cuz "the mericun peeple wants me tuh do muh job, an thass jest whut ima gunna do", (or something like that). How can he tell the difference between background noise and Gawd telling him what to do next?

Let me help him out here with some more "background noise" . . .

According to another AP story, the folks who are benefitting from the Katrina "recovery" process are not the residents:
But the winners of even larger Katrina deals - those valued at $170 million or more - will not have to rebid or renegotiate. Most of the companies had done previous work for the government, either with earlier hurricanes or in Iraq, and those existing relationships were key to winning new deals.

"This shows the best government contractors don't always get hired, the most politically influential do," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "We need to strive for more competitive bidding."

Some of the deals:

_A $521.4 million contract to Gulf Stream Coach of Nappanee, Ind., for travel trailers to house evacuees. Since 2000, company founder James F. Shea and his family have contributed more than $20,000 to GOP candidates, including President Bush and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee.

_A no-bid modification to an existing contract with Landstar Express America Inc. for about $300 million worth of trucking services. Company chairman Jeffrey Crowe recently headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose political action committee regularly contributes to the GOP.

In a preliminary review, government auditors this week found that the Transportation Department approved payments on the Landstar contract without issuing written orders or otherwise recording them in ways to allow adequate oversight.

_A $236 million rush order with Carnival Cruise Lines for six months of temporary housing. The Miami company or its executives have contributed more than $200,000 each to both the Republican and Democratic parties since 2000.

Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have called for investigations into whether the contract price, which amounts to roughly $1,275 a week per passenger if the three ships are at full capacity, is too high.

Also being reviewed is a $287.5 million FEMA contract for temporary housing with Circle B Enterprises Inc., an Ocilla, Ga.-based company that Thompson says is not properly licensed to build manufactured homes in several states.

Circle B says it is not building the actual homes but has subcontracted the work; Carnival officials have said they don't expect to make a profit from their deal. Officials with Gulf Stream Coach could not be reached for comment.

FEMA and Army Corps officials say their early contract awards went to known companies in the interest of providing fast emergency assistance. They denied political connections were a factor.
Yeah, right. Just background noise. Condi produced some of her own, according to the Boston Globe:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused yesterday to rule out military action against Syria and Iran -- two countries she accused of supporting the insurgency in Iraq.

Rice, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that President Bush would not need to ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iraq's neighbors.

''I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers," Rice said in response to a question on whether the administration would have to return to Congress to seek authorization to use military force outside Iraq's borders. ''I think you'll understand fully that the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war in Iraq."

Rice, in her three hours of testimony, painted an upbeat picture of political progress in Iraq. But she also described the war as part of a long-term struggle that might last more than a decade. The war on terrorism, she said, would be won only after change spreads across the entire Middle East.

''Syria and indeed Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace," Rice told senators.
Meanwhile, the Senate again failed to pass a minimum wage hike ($5.15 since 1997), but one of its committees did have the "courage" to recommend oil drilling in the ANWR:
The U.S. Senate Energy Committee voted on Wednesday to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as part of a broad budget bill to fund the federal government.

Tapping the refuge's billions of barrels of crude oil is a key part of the Bush administration's national energy plan to boost domestic production. Environmental groups and many Democrats oppose drilling, saying that instead of threatening the habitat of wildlife in ANWR, lawmakers should look at ways to cut oil consumption with more fuel-efficient vehicle standards.

The refuge, which is about the size of South Carolina, sprawls across more than 19 million acres in northeastern Alaska. It is home to polar bears, musk oxen, caribou and migratory birds.

The energy panel approved the ANWR drilling provision, 13-9. All Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the plan, plus Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.

"Opening ANWR is sound public policy that would serve the country well many years into the future," said Pete Domenici, the Republican chairman of the committee. The oil produced from the wildlife refuge "would provide some cushion" for U.S. supplies, he said.

The legislative proposal will be folded into a much bigger budget bill to fund the federal government, which the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on next week and the full U.S. Senate the following week.

Republican leaders decided to attach the Alaska drilling plan to budget legislation because under Senate rules the giant spending bill cannot be filibustered . . .
Meanwhile, in other noise, Doubleduh's approval ratings continue to make giant flushing sounds.

When in the course of human events . . .

. . . and political discourse, words lose their meaning, the edges of the letters grayed by semantic soot, the sounds symbolic of mud . . . it's time to stop using them.

I concede the term and territory of "progressive" to the swamp of muddled Democrats and Liberals, swimming around in circles in the quicksand, looking for their high ground. I am defeated, I admit it.

If, as Sirota says, the difference between liberalism and progressivism is that the latter aims to ratchet down the forces of capitalism into some benevolent creature serving all citizens, then I am not a progressive. It is not that I wouldn't love to see that happen, I just don't think it will . . . ever. I therefore remove the word from my banner. I'll miss it. But it's lost its meaning. Kerry and Feinstein and Barak can have it.

The banner looks better, I think, with four, rather than three, words. Anybody think of a nice p-word to replace the word I now will not say, lemme know.

.............................

Now, about this American Solidarity thingy. I've joined, but tentatively and skeptically. We'll see what it becomes. I'm hoping for an alliance that goes beyond the blogoswamp to unite and empower folks who know that we need real and fundamental change.

I was, along with Nick Lewis and a couple of others, one of the co-founders of The Progressive Blog Alliance. I'm not even sure what it is these days. I do know its roll is not as infinitely long as the Big Brass Alliance, which I also belong to and can't really define. So, as I say, we'll see.

The logo I'm using atop the American Solidarity blogroll is not official. Steve or Eric sent it along and I like graphics. It'll prolly change in a few days.

10.19.2005

Word Fight!!!!


I usually agree with David Sirota. But he just really pissed me off . . . so here goes. A duel. Vague adjectives at 20 paces!

David just published "What's the Difference Between a Liberal and a Progressive?" at OpEd News. In it he says things like (the emphasis is mine):
I often get asked what the difference between a "liberal" and a "progressive" is. The questions from the media on this subject are always something like, "Isn't 'progressive' just another name for 'liberal' that people want to use because 'liberal' has become a bad word?"

The answer, in my opinion, is no - there is at least one fundamental difference when it comes to core economic issues It seems to me that traditional "liberals" in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A "progressive" are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

To put it in more concrete terms - a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more "progressive" solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better-regulating the oil industry's profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; A progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let's be clear - most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America's social safety net are noble and critical. It's the other direction that's the problem. Many of today's liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today's Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns) - institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America's middle-class.
No. No. Nonononono!!!!!

I'm really starting to hate this symantic battle. In fact, after this post I may give it up. My main point is that most true progressives are not liberals. I would suggest, David, that you go to Wikipaedia and carefully research to meanings and histories of both.

Some salient points . . . (1) progressives do not accept capitalism and corporatism as the best economic system; (2) progressives sense that our democratic institutions were never fully empowered in the first place, rather than feel as if things got recently broken; (3) progressives believe in a redistribution of wealth and power enabling people to build their own workable and interdependent communities; and (4) progressives are beginning to see that liberal institutions perpetuate the evolution of our society into a corporate mass of pain.

Shame, Mr. Sirota. Shame.

Oh, yeah - and thanks to whitehouse.org for the graphic.

10.13.2005

On A Realistic View of the Military

A couple of days ago, Roger Morris and Steve Schmidt published the essay "Strategic Demands of the 21st Century: A New Vision for a New World" at CounterPunch. The last paragraph of the piece reads:
A new vision for a new world will require the most comprehensive rethinking of foreign policy and national security, of America and its role in the world, we have ever undertaken as a people. If we are to be a free and secure society in the 21st century, the moment demands nothing less.
I couldn't agree more. I am as radical left and as anti-war as I can get. I hate violence. I hope that someday the human race will get to a point where any person or group or country who tries to make war will be swiftly and surely punished by a World Court.

Having said that, I think the far left tends to be rather muddle-headed when it comes to things and people military. I can remember landing at Zurich airport in the 80s at a time when airline and airport bombings were happening in Athens and other places. Walking through the terminal to the train station, I noticed immediately that there were a lot of soldiers around, in pairs, armed with machine guns. I have never felt safer in my life. Conversely, one would be hard-put to locate even one cop on duty at my city's central bus terminal. I'm nervous every time I go there.

Although I realize that our military under the command of the Doubleduh-Cheney Gang could easily be the instrument of brutal suppression of our rights here in the US - remembering, as I do often, the Kent State murders by a panicky National Guard unit - I think we are extremely naive and unrealistic in our attitude toward our military.

I'm speaking specifically of the knee-jerk reaction of many of my friends to the notion of the military being in charge of disaster relief. Think about the abject failure of civilian response before, during, and after Katrina. It's still happening, by the way: thousands of camper trailers sitting in some FEMA yard somewhere, while folks are still living in the damn Astrodome. Contrast that with the tireless and nearly flawless responses of the Coast Guard and National Guard.

With some notable exceptions, I am impressed by the professionalism, integrity, and dedication of our military. My admiration rises significantly when I think about how our government (and, by extension, our citizens) exploits, abuses, and abandons our armed forces.

Morris and Schmidt speak of some of the challenges that we face now:
Geo-political: The immediate necessity to break free of the pyrrhic war in Iraq and the mutually ruinous complicity with Israel's expansionist tragedy, and at the same time to defuse sectarian terrorism at its source, stem clear and present nuclear dangers, end our addiction to peaking foreign oil already intolerably ransomed by lives as well as treasure, and altogether restore the integrity of American foreign policy and the loss of international respect for our word and purposes, a loss as lethal as any threat we face.

Geo-environmental: Urgent planetary mobilization to meet the crises upon us from climate change, ecosystem degradation, and resource exhaustion. In ice and thaw, flood and drought, famine and disease, the predictable collapses and social-economic disruptions from environmental reckonings will plague continents with domestic upheavals and international armed confrontations, what a Pentagon study calls "a world of warring states," as threatening and likely as any military or terrorist strike. As with those other attacks, environmental blows may come abruptly, or over time. However, unlike human threats, which statesmanship may avert, some ecological onslaught is now inevitable, as we have seen so graphically and poignantly with the tragedy and governmental-political disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We must cope immediately with attacks already underway, as well as reversing the reversible, preventing or defending against future assaults.
The shame is that criminal governments (not just the Doubleduh-Cheney Gang) pushing our military into criminal wars like VietNam and Iraq weaken our military and erode our national defense.

I feel extremely vulnerable with our military concentrated in Asia. On the other hand, all things being how they are, I could easily get used to seeing a couple of armed soldiers walking through my neighborhood every hour or so. Scare the shit outta the fuckin crack dealers three blocks over.

A truely populist and progressive government would benefit greatly by a military trained in the real protection of all citizens - here at home.

10.11.2005

And the winner is . . .

Eric Fink, The Continental Op, of Red Harvest, correctly identified Ann Colder than a Witch's Coulter as the authorette of the quote in yesterday's contest.

Eric has declined the prize. I'd offer it to Ann, but she's probably sick of that particular bedroom by now.

10.10.2005

Contest

The first person who can tell us here who wrote the following wins a night (alone, of course) in the G. Gordon Liddy Bedroom at the Texas White House:
To casually spurn the people who have been taking slings and arrows all these years and instead reward the former commissioner of the Texas Lottery with a Supreme Court appointment is like pinning a medal of honor on some flunky paper-pusher with a desk job at the Pentagon — or on John Kerry — while ignoring your infantrymen doing the fighting and dying.
Some other funny(??)things:

Georgie got some 'splainin' to doooooooo . . . from "Boozer Bush: W. gets by with a little help from Jack and Jim" by D. P. Sorenson at the Salt Lake City Weekly:
It doesn’t explain everything, but it explains a lot: George Bush, our president, is hitting the bottle again. The drinking rumors have been making the rounds for months, and even before that people speculated that Bush’s “accidents”—choking on a pretzel, dropping his dog, crashing his bicycle—were “alcohol-related.” For someone who makes such a point of flaunting his physical prowess, his habitual clumsiness is somewhat suspicious. After all, Bushie (his wife Laura’s pet name for him, just as it’s his pet name for her, which is a bit creepy) first gained prominence as a high-kicking, back-flipping sis-boom-bah male cheerleader at Yale . . .

One minute Bush goes limp with fright when desperate aides inform him that planes have crashed in the World Trade Center; the next minute, stiff with bravado, he boasts of his resolve to get Osama “dead or alive.” One minute, when he hears Hurricane Katrina howling, he cringes like a scaredy-cat behind his Mama; after a few pops of Old Granddad, he’s full of phony bluster, telling his feckless FEMA chief, “Brownie, you’re doin’ a heckuva job.”

Other creepy traits of our commander-in-chief make sense when seen in the light of his unacknowledged alcoholism. There is his adolescent habit, for instance, of conferring nicknames on all who come within his ken. We all know drunks who, deep in the throes of inebriated bonhomie, bestow terms of affection on friend and foe alike. . . .

Bush’s prolonged sousitude also explains his verbal miscues, his syntactical insurgencies, his grammatical catastrophes. It’s as if the bourbon marinade left deadly lacunae in his already diminutive brain, making it impossible for the most elementary thought to navigate its way through the decimated labyrinth of his frontal lobes.

Then there are the quirky smirks, the bug-eyed glares and goofy grimaces, his words and facial expressions so out of sync that you are reminded of a badly dubbed Japanese monster movie. Finally, what about all those lip gyrations when Bushie is under stress, the tiny mouth working this way and that as if it were engaged in attempting to remove the cap from a bottle? It must be the sauce.
All I can say - and I say it with authority - is that the only thing more dangerous than a drunk in denial is a drunk in denial with thousands of admiring enablers and the power to blow up half the world. If Doubleduh IS drinking, I'd rather have Cheney running the show.

I had some chuckles on Sunday watching Robert Reich on ABC's "This Week" claimimg that the Administration is so fucked-up that the Dumbocrats should just keep their mouths shut and let'em sink. You suck, you neo-liberal, cynical, DLC shill of a creep!!

The funniest one, though, was watching Musharef on GMA this morning defending his government's "slow response" to the earthquake by saying "even the United States didn't respond to Hurricane Katrina in twenty-four hours." Lookie here, Pervez, you really don't wanna be comparing your government to ours right now, y'know?

Thank You




We passed 6000 hits over the weekend.

Special thanks to Mike Miller of PDP, Screwy Hoolie of Scrutiny Hooligans, Bill C. of thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse, Eric Fink of Red Harvest, Morgaine Swann of The-Goddess and What She Said, CJ Minster of Chicken Foot Stew, angelheaded hipster, and WILPF, Dr Menlo of American Samizdat, Karlo of Swerve Left, and all the folks of The Progressive Blog Alliance.

Keep reading.

10.07.2005

All Those Opposed?? Hello!? Anybody There???

Not one Dumbocrat in the Senate voted against the Defense Appropriations bill.

NOT

ONE

Sacrificial Lies


From Politics of Dissent, a relatively new blog written by Atty. Ken Sanders of Tuscon, comes "Imperialists in Democratic Clothing". Some quotes:
With his ratings in the tank and desperately in need of a boost, not to mention a distraction from the sudden impotence of his administration, this week President Bush fell back on what worked so successfully for him in the past: fostering fear and promoting war.

Originally scheduled to mark the anniversary of 9/11, but postponed so that Bush and his cronies could ignore Hurricane Katrina, Bush delivered his latest pro-war screed to the ludicrously misnamed National Endowment for Democracy. A government-funded, semi-private organization (which happens to be free of Congressional oversight), the NED is a darling of the neo-conservatives and shares membership with the Project for a New American Century. Created by Reagan in the 1980s, ostensibly to promote "free market democracies" through "the magic of the marketplace," the NED's interests and practices are anything but democratic. As can be gleaned from its stated goals, the NED's notion of "democracies" are countries friendly to U.S. corporate interests. If a country isn't "democratic" enough already, the NED uses U.S. taxpayer money to subversively fund and instigate regime change.

Examples abound of the NED's fondness for interfering with the elections and democratic processes (however imperfect) of other nations. In the 1980s, the NED funded militaristic and dictatorial candidates in Panama, as well as opposition candidates in such stable democracies as Costa Rica (the opposition candidate in Costa Rica also had the endorsement of that champion of democracy, Manuel Noriega). In the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED provided significant funding to former World Bank official Marc Bazin in a failed attempt to oust the leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bazin, seen by most Haitians as a "front man for military and business interests," received only 12% of the vote. Displeased with that result, the NED funded anti-Aristide groups, culminating in the violent political instability in Haiti that left dozens dead and ultimately resulted in Aristide's exile . . .

What was most notable about Bush's speech to the NED was his tacit admission that his so-called war on terror is really a war for imperial dominance. Bush accused the terrorists of seeking to "overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." Is that not precisely what the U.S. seeks and has long sought to accomplish both overtly through force and surreptitiously through groups like the NED? Does not the U.S. seeks to establish a military-corporate empire that spans the globe?
Atty. Sanders, by the way, also makes his own home brew. Wonder if he does a nice hoppy pale ale. Hmmmm . . . A few pints might make it easier to read the so-called FAQ about what the NED is doing in Venezuela:
NED in Venezuela
The NED has supported democratic organizations in Venezuela since 1993. In recent years in Venezuela the trade unions have been threatened with dissolution, journalists have been put at risk with their freedom curtailed and democratic institutions and processes have been manipulated and undermined. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports that the conditions in Venezuela "demonstrate a clear weakness in the fundamental pillars that must support the rule of law in a democratic system, consistent with the American Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments." NED has increased its funding over the past two years for programs in Venezuela that help groups defend basic democratic rights. The objective of the NED's programs in Venezuela, as in all such countries where democratic rights are threatened, has been and remains to support groups and individuals struggling to strengthen democratic processes, rights, and values, irrespective of their political or partisan affiliations. All of these groups represent the most moderate, and democratic elements in what has become an extremely polarized situation.

What kinds of groups does NED support in Venezuela?
The Endowment program in Venezuela has focused on promoting citizen participation in the political process, civil and political rights, freedom of expression and professional journalism, and conflict mediation. Grantee Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad - Venezuela (Press and Society Institute - Venezuela) works to protect journalists through an alert network and improve their investigative reporting skills. Justicia Alternativa uses NED support to conduct training on conflict resolution, human rights, and police-community relations in the state of Aragua. The Center for Justice and International Law monitors the human rights situation in Venezuela and is training local human rights groups and journalists on how to prepare cases for the Inter-American system to defend freedom of expression. NED funding allows the Acción para el Desarrollo to conduct civic education workshops on democratic values and conflict resolution for presidents of neighborhood associations.
Yeah, heh, heh, . . . right.

The really great thing about post-imperialism imperialism is that it really doesn't have anything to do with borders and need not respond to popular dissent. It is sufficient to just create myths. One such myth is that the USA is no longer a racist society. "Lookie here, Bubba . . . we got Condi, we got Colin, we got just scads 'a African 'Mericans!" Well, Mick Arran of Dispatch from the Trenches points us to a now month-old Racism Ain't Over by veteran blogger Phaedrus. Here's a slice from his post "The 'Failure' of 'Liberal' Housing Projects":
According to the right wing ideologues, the plight of the poor in New Orleans, just like the plight of the poor everywhere in the U.S., is the fault of failed "liberal" policies. Of course, you don't even have to read or listen to right wing opinion to know this. You can just assume that, within the right's massive echo chamber, everything is the liberals fault. Poverty, corruption, grout mold, toe fungus. If they can find a way to make political hay out of any problem, it's definitely the liberals fault, and the right always has examples.

Public housing, in particular the projects, is always prominent among them. And there are in fact huge problems connected with public housing projects. If you told me, "Hey, we're going to build shoddy, underfunded housing projects in which to segregate the poor by both income and race," I would have said, "Wow! What a massively stupid idea."

Now I'm a progressive, or a liberal, or a leftist, or whatever non-right wing epithet you want to throw at me, and maybe this is just personal bias talking, but I'm not inclined to think of people like me as massively stupid. So how is it that people like me came up with such an incredibly idiotic idea as the best way to help the poor? Just a little online research confirms my suspicion. They didn't.
Damn straight they didn't. I worked for a bunch of years in the "War on Poverty." The enabling legislation of OEO/CSA called for the "maximum feasible participation of the poor" in designing and implementing community action efforts. What a joke. Lotta liberals got rich, lotta poor got nuttin, 'cept containment in new ghettos. And it was pretty insidious, too. Take the public housing situation in Boston, for example. In Southie, right on Carson Beach, there was a housing project (I think it was Old Colony, but I'm not sure) which stayed in good repair, was actually pretty, and for which there was a waiting list of at least a couple of years. 100% working Irish Catholics. Across this little corner of Boston Harbor towered the high-rise Columbia Point housing project. Stark, scary, and poorly funded and maintained right from the start. 95% African-American. The Boston Housing Authority criminally neglected Columbia Point, then publically decried "the mess these people made of their community." That was in the 50s and 60s. It's changed, though . . . it's gotten worse.

10.05.2005

A Way Forward (4)


From "A Political Opportunity for Cindy Sheehan and the Antiwar Movement: Shocking the Two Party System" by Nikolas Kozloff at CounterPunch:
In recent years, progressive third party efforts have hardly left a dent in the American political system. Recent polling data however suggest that the American electorate is restless and anxiously waiting for a change. The only thing which is missing is the spark and organizational vehicle. If progressives are smart, they might be able to launch a significant challenge to congressional incumbents in the 2006 election. An idealistic pipe dream? Not necessarily. Candidates who hammer the two parties on Iraq while linking this issue to domestic concerns such as disaster relief, health care, social security and energy policy could have the winning formula for 2006. Polling data suggests that the Republicans are dangerously out of step with the issues Americans hold most dear, while the Democrats refuse to capitalize on Bush’s political mistakes. This opens the door for independent candidates to pick up momentum . . .

Startlingly however, the Democrats have not benefited from this Republican collapse, choosing instead to remain mute on the war and pressing social issues. All the leading Democratic hopefuls for the 2008 election, including Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry granted the president authorization to go to war in Iraq in 2002. Of the 77 Senators who voted for the war, 8 Democrats are up for re-election. They include: Maria Cantwell of Washington, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Hillary Clinton of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Bill Nelson of Florida. In the House, there are still 53 original pro-war Democrats, about one quarter of the party’s fold in that body. Though the American public is unhappy with the Republicans, they are clearly displeased with the Democratic leadership as well. A stunning 65% amongst the public views Congressional Democrats with disapproval . . .
From the same source, Cockburn and St. Clair ring in with "Democrats Sink Deeper into the Ooze":
If there was a real party of opposition, maybe those who mandated the new torture system would face some sanction. If Democratic Party leaders had made an issue of it, some fiber would have been given to the calls for punitive sanction of the engineers and administrators of the torture systems. But top Democrats were silent. Torture was not an issue in the Kerry campaign. And the grunts were abandoned as surely as Kerry abandoned the rednecks of Appalachia and the working poor across America.

Thus it is that with each month that passes the Democratic Party seems to have touched bottom. Then it promptly sinks even deeper into the ooze of cowardice and irrelevance.

While Interstate 45 from Galveston to Houston was clogged with evacuees fleeing the wrath of hurricane Rita, there was a similar jam on the beltway round Washington DC as Democrats fled the city on the eve on the September 24 antiwar rally, panic-stricken lest their presence in Washington might somehow be construed as endorsement of the rally's antiwar message . . .

You would think that on the most elementary precepts of political self-advancement, congressional Democrats would have been besieging the rally's organizers for a speaker's slot. But the Democrats have not only forgotten how to fix elections, they've lost the simplest political instincts of all, opportunism and grandstanding.

Not fifty, no twenty, not ten, but only a fistful of congressional Democrats, led by Cynthia McKinney ­ a woman the Democrats tried their best to destroy three years ago ­ addressed the 150,000 people on the Mall protesting the war in Iraq, on September 24. A few other Democrats were spotted skulking on the fringes of the rally, no doubt angling for the briefest photo-op of the momentous day.
The truth, of course, is that all these Dumbocrats are beholden to pretty much the same mega-money crowd as The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang. Our nation's capital might just as well be on Uranus as in Washington, DC.

I spoke with someone the other day who was just outraged that Wal Mart's communications and delivery logistics systems far outpaced FEMA during the hurricanes. But that's the damn point, don't you see? Everything - just absolutely everything - will be "privatized" as these folks dismantle the government. The ace that Doubleduh is about to play in the "who pays to rebuild New Orleans as the dazzling white phoenix" is the decimation of the Food Stamp program. Y'all po' 'n' homeless??? Shame on you!!! Now y'all be po', homeless, 'n' hongry!!

KeeeRIST I fail to understand how some folks threw a bunch of money at the Katrina relief thingy, but will be damned if they'll let their taxes be raised. Then they're gonna throw an obscene amount of cash into the campaigns of political whores who will continue to crush the government.

One final thing about getting out of Iraq . . . if I have a big container that contains two volatile chemicals in it that are stable to begin with, then I add a catalytic element that causes these chemicals to interact dangerously with each other, I do NOT make it all better by leaving the catalyst in the container to "calm things down" . . . you goddam fool!

10.04.2005

A Way Forward (3)


Power to the People...

A true victory in the “war on terror” would involve eradicating the US terrorist state and criminally prosecuting those who have perpetrated the associated war crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and many others in that foul administration belong in Guantanamo Bay with those they have alleged to be terrorists. The most dangerous terrorists on Earth move about freely, wield great power, enjoy immense wealth, and reside openly in Washington, DC. Corrupt, bellicose, avaricious war-mongers represent a fraction of the US population yet they harbor almost all of the power and wealth in the world's only remaining superpower nation. Arrests and prosecutions through US and international courts, tax revolts, protests, nation-wide strikes/walkouts by union and non-union employees alike, massive consumer boycotts, increased education of the American public, increased unity amongst the proponents of social justice, and the emergence of a powerful spiritual leader whose true goal is to achieve social justice are needed to excise the cancer in Washington which plagues the world.
That is just a small part of "Viewing Terrorism through a Different Lens" by Jason Miller at Tom Paine's Corner. It's a long post, but worth the read on several counts. First, he clearly defines "terrorism" as "a two way street":
Admittedly, the perpetrators of 9/11 (if one believes that Arab terrorists actually committed the act), the members of the resistance in Iraq who have bombed Iraqi civilians, and members of Hamas who have killed Israeli civilians, have committed acts of terror. However, the number of murders they have committed pales in comparison to the "collateral damage" inflicted by the US government and the civilians killed by its proxies. Besides, not all acts committed by Hamas or similar groups are acts of terrorism. Some of the acts the US government labels as "terrorism" are carried out by sovereign nations (or oppressed people) defending themselves against imperial aggressors.

What is my conclusion? Both the US government and Arab organizations (which truly commit terrorist acts) are abominations because they kill for political or ideological gain.
Second, he carefully enumerates the specific reasons why the Arab (and by extension, Muslim) world might be a tad annoyed with the US government:
Since the internal combustion engine became an indispensable aspect of economic vitality, the United States government has invaded, exploited, manipulated and cheated Arab nations in its ongoing quest to purloin their precious oil. Preying upon internal strife and ongoing unrest amongst varying factions and sects of the Islamic faith, the US government has raped the people of the Middle East for decades. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Acts of retaliation against the US are the result of victimized people attempting to thwart their over-powering, deceitful oppressors in Washington . . .

Consider the fact that the power-brokers in Washington DC have long supported, and continue to support, a repressive monarchy in Saudi Arabia known as the House of Saud. Washington maintains this incestuous relationship with these iron-fisted rulers to ensure a steady supply of crude oil and to guarantee they have an ally to host regional military bases from which to further their goal of global hegemony . . .

Perhaps the most poignant and timely illustration of the US government fueling Arab antipathy is Iraq. In 1963, the US helped sponsor a coup which brought Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to power. King Hussein of Jordan has confirmed that the CIA located Iraqi Communists for the Ba'athists, who in turn tortured and killed these members of their opposition. Once Saddam came to power in 1979, the US became his staunch ally, pushing for Iran's defeat in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980's. Providing money (via loans from Middle Eastern US allies), conventional weapons (through US allies), and the precursors to biological weapons (directly from the CDC) to Hussein (despite realizing he was committing genocide by killing tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and using chemical weapons against Iran), the US government again showed its willingness to support a brutal tyranny to further its own interests . . .

Iran, a member of the triumvirate Bush cited as the "Axis of Evil", is another Arab victim of US state terrorism. In 1953, through Operation Ajax, the CIA led a coup which replaced Iran's nationalist leader, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, with Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the infamous Shah of Iran. The Shah outlawed the existence of rival political parties and created SAVAK, his secret police force. SAVAK vigorously pursued and crushed dissent against the Shah's government. The Shah routinely tortured dissidents in the infamous Evin Prison. US government support of the Shah and of his "Westernization" of Iraq both infuriated the populace of Iraq and eventually led to the Shah's ouster in 1979. His successor was the virulently anti-American Ayatollah Khomeni. Violence spawns violence. Hatred begets hatred . . .
He finishes with a warning that we have "a lot of wood to chop" if we are to dismantle the fascist juggernaut. The suggestions he offers in the paragraph I first quoted, especially boycotts and strikes (they work in Europe), are examples of popular actions that challenge the dominant party structures all around.

Chop, chop, chop.

10.03.2005

Wacky


Rumors have been slithering around these past few weeks that Doubleduh is drinking again. We certainly know (or knew, at least) that he ain't the brighest bulb on the tree.

As of last evening, however, I'm 99% convinced that he's gone 'round the bend, o'er the falls, and flattened on the tarmac bonkers.

This cat just nominated a chick for a chair on the Supreme Court who is more totally unqualified than Mike Brown and as odorous as Clarence Thomas.

Now, I can see where this idiotic choice may be both tactically and strategically similar to a lot of what this administration has done in the past . . . create chaos, give the finger to everyone, etc. etc.

But, Doubleduh!! Fer crissakes, man . . . Harriet Miers is acceptable to NO-damn-buddy. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!!!

MUST READ!! Marching toward Nuremburg

From "The Real Threat of Fascism" by Paul Bigioni at OpEd News:
Observing political and economic discourse in North America since the 1970’s leads to an inescapable conclusion: the vast bulk of legislative activity favors the interests of large commercial enterprises. Big business is very well off, and successive Canadian and U.S. governments, of whatever political stripe, have made this their primary objective for at least the last 25 years. Digging deeper into twentieth century history, one finds this steadfast focus on the well-being of big business in other times and places. The exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism. Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business, and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity. These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it. Indeed, Huey Long, one of America’s most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. His answer was, “Yes, but we will call it anti-fascism” . . .

Before the rise of fascism, Germany and Italy were liberal democracies. Fascism did not swoop down on these nations as if from another planet. To the contrary, fascist dictatorship was the end result of political and economic processes which these nations underwent while they were still democratic. In both these countries, economic power became so utterly concentrated that the bulk of all economic activity fell under the control of a handful of men. Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power. The political power of big business supported fascism in Italy and Germany.

Business tightened its grip on the state in both Italy and Germany by means of intricate webs of cartels and business associations. These associations exercised a very high degree of control over the businesses of their members. They frequently controlled pricing, supply and the licensing of patented technology. These associations were private, but were entirely legal. Neither Germany nor Italy had effective antitrust laws, and the proliferation of business associations was generally encouraged by government. This was an era eerily like our own, insofar as economists and businessmen constantly clamored for self-regulation in business. By the mid 1920’s, however, self-regulation had become self-imposed regimentation. By means of monopoly and cartel, the businessmen had wrought for themselves a “command and control” economy which effectively replaced the free market. The business associations of Italy and Germany at this time are perhaps history’s most perfect illustration of Adam Smith’s famous dictum: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices” . . .

Neo-liberal intellectuals often recognize the need for violence to protect what they regard as freedom. Thomas Freidman of the New York Times has written enthusiastically that “the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist”, and that “McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15…”. As in pre-fascist Germany and Italy, the laissez-faire businessmen call for the state to do their bidding even as they insist that the state should stay out of the marketplace. Put plainly, neo-liberals advocate the use of the state’s military force for the sake of private gain. Their view of the state’s role in society is identical to that of the businessmen and intellectuals who supported Hitler and Mussolini. There is no fear of the big state here. There is only the desire to wield its power. Neo-liberalism is thus fertile soil for fascism to grow again into an outright threat to our democracy.

Having said that fascism is the result of a flawed notion of freedom, I respectfully suggest that we must reexamine what we mean when we throw around the word “freedom”. We must conceive of freedom in a more enlightened way. Indeed, it was the thinkers of the Enlightenment that imagined a balanced and civilized freedom which did not impinge upon the freedom of one’s neighbor. Put in the simplest terms, my right to life means that you must give up your freedom to kill me. This may seem terribly obvious to decent people. Unfortunately, in our neo-liberal era, this civilized sense of freedom has, like the dangers of fascism, been all but forgotten.