Sunday, April 30, 2006

Greg Palast: Armed Madness

Greg Palast is perhaps our most fearless investigative reporter, on the front lines with true diligence against the Neocon insanity that threatens to consume the United States once and for all. He's got a new book coming out in June, Armed Madhouse:


"For the past two years, I've nearly disappeared from BBC Television screens and from newspapers so my team could focus on our most important investigation yet. I've put it in a book: Armed Madhouse. The book travels from Beijing to New Orleans to Caracas to Baghdad to New Mexico ... a five-part investigation of global economic piggery so deep, dark and devious you just have to scream or cry -- or laugh.

"Don't be fooled by the fact that 'Armed Madhouse' is entertaining -- this is my most serious reporting yet -- connecting oil panic, Hurricane Katrina, Chinese currency, Venezuela's petrodollars, disappearing ballots, Thomas Friedman, more oil, and the murder of General Motors. These are dispatches from the front lines of the class war."

Read more.

Hundreds of thousands in New York march against war

Unlike Washington last fall, I couldn't be there this go round. As usual, the media barely gave it a nod. UFPJ says there were 300,000 - my home town rag said "tens of thousands;" the cops - who are told not to offer any estimates - said nothing. I believe UFPJ.

Some scenes from the crowd:



















































Bush challenges hundreds of laws

From the Boston Globe, by Charlie Savage, April 30, 2006

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.


Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.

''There is no question that this administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out, systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of the other branches of government," Cooper said. ''This is really big, very expansive, and very significant."

Read more.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hey Rush, doesn't "Snow" rhyme with "ho"?


Media Matters for America has compiled just a few of the many falsehoods that incoming White House Press spokesperson Tony Snow has issued while a Fox news pundit

  • Snow falsely asserted that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV said his wife, Valerie Plame, "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
  • Snow put forward numerous falsehoods to argue that "[e]volutionary theory, like ID [intelligent design], isn't verifiable or testable. It's pure hypothesis."
  • Snow claimed that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the "most liberal justice in American history," despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Snow peddled the baseless Republican National Committee talking point that 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) had blamed U.S. troops for the explosives looted from the Al Qaqaa military installation following the invasion of Iraq. Snow said, "[T]he Kerry campaign is not criticizing the president here. They're criticizing our troops."
  • Following President Bush's lead, Snow distorted Kerry's stated desire to reduce terrorism to a "horrible nuisance." Snow claimed Kerry had "called terrorists a nuisance."
  • Snow backed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's attacks on Kerry, falsely claiming, "[T]here has been no documentary contradiction of the Swift Boat stuff."
  • Snow falsely defended Bush from probing questions regarding his National Guard service.
Bush White House Press spokesperson standard operating procedure:

If only ...


Rush Limbaugh, the 55-year-old ultra right-wing commentator, surrendered Friday at the Palm Beach County jail on a warrant charging that in 2003, sought a prescription from a physician without revealing that he had received medications from another practitioner within 30 days. That charge, commonly referred to as doctor shopping, is a felony that could carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Limbaugh was booked, photographed and fingerprinted before being released on $3,000 bail.

Now, wouldn't you just love to see some dude doing 15 years or more for possession of a joint standing over the fat slob and saying "Squeal like a pig..."

Bush's REAL base

"This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." —Presidential candidate George W. Bush, at the annual Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Oct. 19, 2000


From The Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 26, 2006

Eighteen of America's wealthiest families, including the Timkens of Canton, are bankrolling efforts to permanently repeal estate taxes that would save their families a total of $71.6 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by public interest groups.

Groups funded by the super-rich have engaged in a deceptive campaign to convince the public that estate taxes cause widespread problems for small businesses and family farms when they actually affect about one in 370 estates, said the report released by Public Citizen and Boston-based United for a Fair Economy.

This year, all assets under $2 million for individuals and under $4 million for couples are exempt from estate taxes. Current tax law will boost those exemptions to $3.5 million and $7 million in 2009, eliminate the estate tax in 2010, and reimpose it in 2011 with a $1 million exemption.

The House voted to permanently repeal the estate tax last year, but the measure stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to override filibusters. Majority Leader Bill Frist says he will bring the bill up in May.
-- Sabrina Eaton

Read more.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

George Orwell’s distinction between patriotism and nationalism

Orwell wrote the essay “Notes on Nationalism” in 1945, just as the most cataclysmic war in human history was ending in Europe.

“By patriotism,” he wrote, “I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world, but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.”

Nationalism, as Orwell defined it, “is inseparable from the desire for power.... A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige.... His thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations.” To Orwell, it was “power hunger tempered by self-deception,” a kind of moral insanity.

Presaging his masterpiece “1984,” Orwell was most alarmed by the fervid nationalist’s indifference to reality: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.”

-- Courtesy of Gene Lyons, "Is our democracy sleepwalking into a nightmare," Little Rock Democrat Gazette

Hostile Takeover

Steven Lendman has posted an important and very germane analysis of how the global corporate culture has transformed human society in ways dire and unprecedented in history. This is not a mere rant - it is a reasoned analysis of how giant coprorations manipulate governments, media, finance, and their employees to fulfill their agenda. And what is that agenda? To make stock holders happy. And CEOs richer and richer.

Pentagon Strike

This Flash media presentation accumulates in rapid-fire succession all of the evidence that suggests something quite other than the official story about the Pentagon attack of September 11, 2001. Still think that the greatest conspiracy in American history could never be kept secret if it were true? Remember, the conspirators ARE in power.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Unembedded

In a stunningly powerful series of photographs and videos, four INDEPENDENT photographers and two filmmakers document life in Iraq during wartime. This is a must see website.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rumsfeld's grand plan for world domination

In my hometown paper, this was buried on page 8.

From the Washington Post:

New Plans Foresee Fighting Terrorism Beyond War Zones, Pentagon to Rely on Special Operations

By Ann Scott Tyson, Sunday, April 23, 2006

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved the military's most ambitious plan yet to fight terrorism around the world and retaliate more rapidly and decisively in the case of another major terrorist attack on the United States, according to defense officials.

The long-awaited campaign plan for the global war on terrorism, as well as two subordinate plans also approved within the past month by Rumsfeld, are considered the Pentagon's highest priority, according to officials familiar with the three documents who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them publicly.

Details of the plans are secret, but in general they envision a significantly expanded role for the military -- and, in particular, a growing force of elite Special Operations troops -- in continuous operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Developed over about three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, the plans reflect a beefing up of the Pentagon's involvement in domains traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.

For example, SOCOM has dispatched small teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to U.S. embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where they do operational planning and intelligence gathering to enhance the ability to conduct military operations where the United States is not at war.

Venezuela here we come.

Welcome to the New American Century.

Full article here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Does Karl Rove lead a double life?


Royal fascist by day ... Leather Queen by night?
I first heard Randi Rhodes insinuate somthing to this effect months ago, and frankly, it is just too delicious to pass up. Of course, you'd think at least The Nation would have picked up on it already if it were true ...


From
The Truth Seeker .

From Conspiracy Planet.

From Choice 101.

From the Nashua Advocate.

This is one of these things to which you figure a sizable percentage of the White House Press Corps know the answer but keep their mouth shut (probably for all the wrong reasons).

Not that there's anything wrong with it ... (barring the
HYPOCRISY!).

President Debt meets the Bank

Saturday, April 15, 2006

How many retired generals does it take to call for impeachment?

The count of retired military brass calling for Rumsfeld's resignation continues to increase every week. You have to ask yourself, how much is this in response to cladestine pleas from the still active commanders who don't want to imperil their careers by speaking out while still in active service? The situation is unprecedented in American history, and only adds to the weight of arguments that we have been manipulated and overtaken by a lunatic fringe of loathsome rogues for whom common reality is everyone else's worst nightmare.

More news of the unquiet revolt building in the ranks of the military:

A warning to Pentagon: Does this look familiar?

Retired colonel claims U.S military operations are already underway in Iran

The generals' revolt, by Pat Buchanan

3 degrees: Chief scientist warns bigger rise in world's temperature will put 400 million at risk

The world's temperature is on course to rise by more than three degrees Centigrade despite efforts to combat global warming, Britain's chief scientist has warned.

Sir David King issued a stark wake-up call that climate change could cause devastating consequences such as famine and drought for hundreds of millions of people unless the world's politicians take more urgent action.

Britain and the rest of the European Union have signed up to a goal of limiting the temperature rise to two degrees. In his strongest warning yet on the issue, Sir David suggested the EU limit will be exceeded.

According to computer-modelled predictions for the Government, a three-degree rise in temperatures could put 400 million more people at risk of hunger; leave between one and three billion more people at risk of water stress; cause cereal crop yields to fall by between 20 and 400 million tons; and destroy half the world's nature reserves.

-- Andrew Grice, The Independent. Full article here.

And the right wing continues to call this "junk science." This from the purveyors of "junk thinking."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

American Hero of the Week

Doris "Granny D" Haddock is a 96 year-old activist whose long life is pure inspiration. Visit her web site, and hope that you and me can muster hald of this nonogenarian's personal courage, spirit and energy.

In this speech from 2002, Granny D attempts to answer the conundrum that perplexes me every day: how can people accept the direction in which our nation is being steered?

An excerpt:
"If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are these: the politically awake and the hypnotized -- hypnotized by television and other mass media, whose overpaid Svengalis dangle the swinging medallions of packaged candidates and oft-told lies. It is all done to politically prolong the open season on us -- open season indeed, as the billionaire takeover artists bag their catch for the day. And in their bags are our freedoms, our leisure, our health care futures, our old age security, our family time, our village life, our family-owned businesses on Main Street, the middle class itself, and our position of honor and peaceful leadership in the world."


Granny D has two books out Granny D : You're Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell and Granny D : Walking Across America in My Ninetieth Year.

Will another war bring Americans into the streets ...

... or just our consumer-addled society to its knees?

Half a million people fill the streets to demonstate against an hypocritical immigration policy. Well and good, though at the heart of it, you can't help thinking that it's all about the desire to join the rest of the pigs at the trough (rather than asking if the trough is going to last forever or even deserves to).

Meanwhile, a deluded, war-obsessed, messianic, appointed president considers sending nuclear weapons against a fundamentalist Islamic government in the Persian Gulf. Where is the outrage about this? What degree of exceutive insanity will be necessary to bring a half million people into the streets in protest?

New Hampshire phone-jamming records point to White House



WASHINGTON - Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Whole article here.

And why is it that I can only see Karl Rove's fat little hands pulling the strings behind this little caper?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

We pause in our regularly scheduled programming ...

Ever wonder what right wing assholes do on their computers in their spare time (when they're not venting their stupidity on blog sites like sondraK)?

http://www.chevyapprentice.com/view.php?country=us&uniqueid=11cb8e54-152a-1029-98eb-0013724ff5a7

Still think that George W. Bush was "elected" president?

From the Brad Blog:

A summary of the key points in the story so far…
Based on the Reporting of Brad Friedman
(For a list of key articles in this series, see www.BradBlog.com/ClintCurtis.htm)

...OVERVIEW...

On December 6th, 2004 , The BRAD BLOG (www.bradblog.com) published a sworn affidavit by Florida software programmer Clint Curtis. In his affidavit and videotaped sworn testimony presented before members of the U.S. House Judiciary committee, Curtis claims to have been asked by U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) to design a "vote-rigging software prototype". This request took place in October 2000 during a meeting at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), a computer consulting firm in Oviedo, Florida.

Curtis, a life-long Republican up until then, had been a programmer at YEI, which had several top-secret clearance contracts with the state, NASA and other government agencies. Curtis' understanding at the time was that the prototype he was being asked to create (built to the very precise specifications of Feeney) was to address Feeney’s concerns that the Democrats might attempt to electronically rig the election and Feeney wanted to know what to look out for in that event. After informing YEI CEO Mrs. Li-Woan Yang that he would not be able to hide the vote-flipping routines in the software source-code as Feeney had requested, Curtis testified that Mrs. Yang informed him that the program was needed to "rig the vote in South Florida ".

At the time of the alleged meeting, Feeney was the incoming Speaker of the Florida House, and also a registered lobbyist and the general corporate counsel for YEI. Previously, he had been the running mate of Jeb Bush during his 1994 unsuccessful first bid for Florida Governor. In November 2000, Feeney gained national notoriety after declaring open defiance of the Florida Supreme Court by vowing to choose Presidential electors for George W. Bush regardless of whether a court-ordered recount showed that Gore won Florida . He eventually ascended to the U.S. Congress and today sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Although he was outspent two to one by his Democratic opponent in 2002, Feeney beat him handily at the polls and then ran unopposed for the same seat in 2004.

...CONFIRMED LINKS TO CHINESE ESPIONAGE...

Curtis also reported in his affidavit and to the Florida State Inspector General that YEI was employing an illegal Chinese alien by the name of Hai Lin "Henry" Nee who was inserting "wire-tapping modules" into sensitive database programs which YEI had built for NASA and other companies. Curtis also alleged that the brother of Mrs. Li-Woan Yang, the YEI CEO, had been a deported Chinese spy.

Since the time of Curtis' allegations, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee has been indicted, and pleaded guilty to charges of espionage related to attempting to send chips used in Hellfire anti-tank missile systems to China. The arrest was the result of a four year sting operation by the Homeland Security Office's Immigration and Customs Export (ICE) bureau. Although Nee admitted in his pleading to have sent such chips "ten to twenty times in the past year" to China, he was sentenced (10/2004) to just three years probation and a $100 fine!

Federal officials in the Florida Inspector General’s report investigating claims by Curtis have confirmed that Nee was an illegal alien as of January 2000. Yet for reasons still unknown, Federal officials refused to disclose information on Nee's alien status to the Florida IG until after Nee's prosecution had concluded in October of 2004.

...YEI DENIALS EXPOSED AS LIES...

Mrs. Yang and the attorneys for YEI (Tom Feeney's former law-partner and current contributor, Michael O'Quinn) still insist that Nee never worked for them even though the Florida Inspector General’s report confirmed otherwise. Moreover, weekly time records published by The BRAD BLOG show that Nee worked 40 to 60 hours a week at YEI on their contract with the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT). As Curtis also charged in his affidavit, the recent Florida IG's report found YEI owing approximately $300,000 in questionable charges to the FDOT where Curtis had been working at the time he originally blew the whistle on these allegations.

...THE DEAD INSPECTOR GENERAL...

The original Inspector General assigned to the case, Raymond Lemme, had contacted Curtis in mid-June of 2003, after both Curtis and the other whistleblower on the case had been fired without cause – both on the same day. (Eventually, both of them would win their whistleblower cases against FDOT on the matter.) Curtis says in his sworn affidavit that Lemme had advised him in mid-June that he would be very happy about his upcoming report and he should keep his ears open for it because, he told Curtis, "this goes all the way to the top."

Two weeks later, Lemme was found dead in a Valdosta, Georgia motel room.

The police report determined the death was a suicide. However, this BRAD BLOG article examines a number of troubling inconsistencies in the police report including photographs from the crime scene which the Valdosta police report claimed would not exist due to a failed "flash memory card" in the camera. In reality, however, the photographs do exist and are now posted along with the other troubling inconsistencies and anomalies in this part of the story.

The Valdosta police department now admits that they re-opened the Lemme case after "interest from the Internet" in December 2004, but then re-closed it quickly after they received a phone call (confirmed by the Valdosta police, but so-far unexplained) from FDOT.

...FEENEY'S DENIALS EXPOSED AS LIES...

Tom Feeney has categorically denied all charges made by Curtis and has refused to comment on the record about any of the allegations beyond telling MSNBC that "Curtis has defamed a lot of people". In the meantime, The BRAD BLOG, has so far been unable to find any holes or inconsistencies in any of Curtis' claims. On the contrary, the bulk of Curtis’ claims have so far been proven truthful and legitimate based on a multitude of hard evidence obtained from public documents, court records, newspaper accounts, emails and other materials from a long three year paper trail.

On the other hand, statement after statement made by Feeney, YEI and their attorneys on this matter have turned out to be demonstrably untrue and incorrect based on documented evidence as reported over the past three months on The BRAD BLOG.

...LOCAL MEDIA GETS ON THE STORY...

Even though this scandal links a powerful Republican Congressman to Chinese espionage, the national media has largely ignored the story so far. But in Florida , several local newspapers have jumped on the story, including the Seminole Chronicle, Oviedo Voice, St. Petersburg Times, and New Times Broward Palm-Beach. While some reports have been more responsible than others, all largely confirm the bulk of items reported by The BRAD BLOG and many of the claims by Curtis' himself.

...CLINT CURTIS PASSES POLYGRAPH TEST!...

After many months and many requests and many challenges from both critics and Mainstream Media types, The St. Petersburg Times reports -- and The BRAD BLOG can confirm -- that Clint Curtis took a polygraph test on March 3rd, 2005...and passed!

The lie-detector test, administered by Tim Robinson, the retired chief polygraph operator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, found that Curtis was indeed found to be truthful in all of his responses!

...CLINT CURTIS TO RUN FOR CONGRESS AGAINST FEENEY!...

On February 13th, 2006, it was announced on The BRAD BLOG that Clint Curtis is planning a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida's 24th District. If he is able to make it through a Primary Challenge, he will then go on to face Tom Feeney, the current occupant of that seat, in the 2006 General Election...Curis has now set up a campaign website to raise much needed funds at www.ClintCurtis.com

The story and the investigation continue…

Additional details and a list of key articles can be found at www.BradBlog.com/ClintCurtis.htm

For more information on interviews on this story, or for help in scheduling an interview with Clint Curtis, please contact Brad Friedman via email at TheBradBlog@cville.com

Monday, April 10, 2006

The future of elections in the USA

Just when we face the worst presidency in the history of the republic, and a majority party in Congress consumed by corruption and corporate shilling on one hand, and appeasing a radical, reactionary, anti-intellectual, pseudo-Christian movement on the other, we have this:

Dennis Vadura is the former CEO of AccuPoll, a voting machine vendor that has filed for bankruptcy. He has this to say about the industry (emphasis added):

"I am not happy about the outcome, or the state of the industry. I think that something needs to be done. I'm not sure what it is, it probably doesn't include AccuPoll at this point, but I do not feel that any of the vendors has a system that voters can trust. I think that vendors outright misrepresent the robustness, stability, and security of their systems. You just have to look at the litany of problems and it points at one thing, bad fundamental design, and not enough checks and balances. I also wonder why the other vendors were so adamant in fighting a VVPAT [voter verified paper audit trail] system requirement. They spent much more in fighting it than in implementing it."

-- Courtesy of "News From Underground." Read the whole article on the voting machine mess by John Gideon Executive Director of VotersUnite.org, Information Manager of votetrustusa.org
here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Homeland sexuality

From the Dept. of Homeland Security Press Room 2004 Accomplishments Report:

"More than 4,600 child sex predators were apprehended nationwide and over 2,100 child sex predators were deported. "

From The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 2004 press release:

"HOMELAND SECURITY ANNOUNCES NEW MILESTONE IN ITS GLOBAL EFFORT TO COMBAT CHILD SEX PREDATORS"


Whoops! Missed one ...

"On Wednesday, prosecutors prepared to extradite Brian J. Doyle — a senior public information officer for the [Dept. of Homeland Security] — who faces 23 felony counts of using a computer to seduce a child and of transmitting harmful materials to a minor."
-- From "
Sex Charges Raise Security Issues" by Nick Timiraos, LA Times

Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary arrested. -- WTSP, Tampa, FL

Hmmm, I wonder if he wrote that press release from 2004 ...?

Now, more than ever.

Monday, April 03, 2006

California's version of Tom DeLay







Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) typifies the worst excesses of a Republican-led legislature. This guy gives Tom Delay a major run for the money as THE congressional corruption king (now that "Duke" Cunningham is off crying in his beer). The stakes are high for unseating him, and it will not be easy. Read about this man's abuse of the public trust here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006