Thursday, August 31, 2006

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Speaks Truth to Power

"The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet."

Osama bin Murdoch

Certified loonie Donald Rumsfield on "media manipulation" by "terrorists:

“What bothers me the most is the way they are actively manipulating the media in this country. They can lie with impunity…That’s the thing that keeps me up at night.”

And here they are, ladies and gentleman, the "terrorists:"

(I won't even guess what the guy 2nd from the left is describing the size of. Hey, let's have a contest! Leave a comment and tell me what YOU think he's describing!).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Cheney presidency

Robert Kuttner ruminates on the fact that our nation is really being run (in secrecy) by a man with a 20% favorability rating.

"... the press buys the pretense of Bush being 'the decider,' and relentlessly covers Bush -- meeting with world leaders, cutting brush, holding press conferences, while Cheney works in secret, largely undisturbed. So let's take half the members of the overblown White House press corps, which has almost nothing to do anyway, and send them over to Cheney Boot Camp for Reporters. They might learn how to be journalists again, and we might learn who is running the government."
-- Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe. Full article here or here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Still trust electronic voting machines?

Here's a video of U.S. Congressional candidate Clint Curtis testifying about being asked to come up with "vote-rigging software" by Tom Feeney, the incumbent in the 24th Congressional District of Florida.

Request your absentee ballot NOW!

Saturday, August 19, 2006


What to know what it means? Go

9/11 Conspiracy - it just won't go away

Nor should it.

Total 9/11 Info

Pitch Black Void

Manuel Valenuzela on the real war against terorism:

If we ponder over the horizon of the last five years and ask ourselves who has benefited the most from the tragic events of 9/11 then surely the arrow would point to the Bush administration, along with the clandestine and known neoconservatives and corporatists controlling the military industrial energy complex. As a result of 9/11, these groups, the Bush cabal for short, have seemingly grown in absolute power and wealth, declaring wars, occupying nations, killing hundreds of thousands of human beings, manipulating the American populace, fleecing America’s treasury, making obscene profits from war and death, curtailing Americans’ civil liberties and rights, further instituting corporatist control over government and society, engendering fear and hatred into the people and ignoring the rule of law along with the Constitution of the United States.

Read his entire essay here.

Blackwater's Mercenary Jackpot

While the Bush Administration calls for the immediate disbanding of what it has labeled "private" and "illegal" militias in Lebanon and Iraq, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its own global private mercenary army tasked with protecting US officials and institutions overseas.

The secretive program, which spans at least twenty-seven countries, has been an incredible jackpot for one heavily Republican-connected firm in particular: Blackwater USA.

Government records recently obtained by The Nation reveal that the Bush Administration has paid Blackwater more than $320 million since June 2004 to provide "diplomatic security" services globally. The massive contract is the largest known to have been awarded to Blackwater to date and reveals how the Administration has elevated a once-fledgling security firm into a major profiteer in the "war on terror."

Blackwater's highly lucrative "diplomatic security" contract was officially awarded under the State Department's little-known Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) program, described in State Department documents as a government initiative to protect US officials as well as "certain foreign government high level officials whenever the need arises."

A heavily redacted 2005 government audit of Blackwater's WPPS contract proposal, obtained by The Nation, reveals that Blackwater included profit in its overhead and its total costs, which would result "not only in a duplication of profit but a pyramiding of profit since in effect Blackwater is applying profit to profit." The audit also found that the company tried to inflate its profits by representing different Blackwater divisions as wholly separate companies.

-- By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted August 16, 2006. More here.

Congress Poised to Unravel the Internet

Lured by huge checks handed out by the country's top lobbyists, members of Congress could soon strike a blow against Internet freedom as they seek to resolve the hot-button controversy over preserving "network neutrality." The telecommunications reform bill now moving through Congress threatens to be a major setback for those who hope that digital media can foster a more democratic society. The bill not only precludes net neutrality safeguards but also eliminates local community oversight of digital communications provided by cable and phone giants. It sets the stage for the privatized, consolidated and unregulated communications system that is at the core of the phone and cable lobbies' political agenda.

In both the House and Senate versions of the bill, Americans are described as "consumers" and "subscribers," not citizens deserving substantial rights when it comes to the creation and distribution of digital media. A handful of companies stand to gain incredible monopoly power from such legislation, especially AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon. They have already used their political clout in Washington to secure for the phone and cable industries a stunning 98 percent control of the US residential market for high-speed Internet.

Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens, the powerful Commerce Committee chair, is trying to line up votes for his "Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunities Reform Act." It was Stevens who called the Internet a "series of tubes" as he tried to explain his bill. Now the subject of well-honed satirical jabs from The Daily Show, as well as dozens of independently made videos, Stevens is hunkering down to get his bill passed by the Senate when it reconvenes in September.
Jeffrey Chester, The NATION. Whole article here.

Former diplomats and retired generals letter to president Bush

Words not War, A Statement on Iran, August 2006

As former military leaders and foreign policy officials, we call on the Bush administration to engage immediately in direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions to help resolve the current crisis in the Middle East and settle differences over the Iranian nuclear program.

We strongly caution against any consideration of the use of military force against Iran. The current crises must be resolved through diplomacy, not military action. An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims elsewhere.

A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran will serve the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and would enhance regional and international security.

Signed: -

Ambassador Harry Barnes, Former Ambassador to Chile, India, and Romania

Lieutenant General Julius Becton, U.S. Army (Ret.); Former commander, VII
Corps, and Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Parker Borg, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy; Former Ambassador to Iceland and Mali; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotic Matters; Deputy Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, U. S. State Department

Ambassador Peter Burleigh, Former U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations; Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Ambassador and Coordinator of the Office of Counter-Terrorism; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia

Ambassador Ralph Earle II, Former chief negotiator of the SALT II Treaty and Director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote, U.S. Army (Ret.). Former Deputy Inspector General, U.S. Army

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, African Affairs, Charge/Deputy Chief of Mission, American Embassy (Bangkok; Beijing); and Director, Chinese Affairs, Department of State

Morton Halperin, Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress; Director of U.S. Advocacy for the Open Society Institute; Former director of Policy Planning, Department of State

Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.); Former military assistant to the Secretary of Defense; president, National Defense University. Currently Senior Military Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

General Joseph P. Hoar, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.); Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command

Brigadier General John Johns, U.S. Army (Ret.); Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Professor Frank N. von Hippel, Former Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Installations and Logistics

Major General Frederick H. Lawson, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.); Former Reserve Division Commander

Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, U.S. Army (Ret.); former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence

Lieutenant General Charles P. Otstott, U.S. Army (Ret.); former Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee

Ambassador Edward L. Peck, Former Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania; Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism; Deputy Coordinator for Covert Intelligence Programs and Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State; Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Brig. Gen. Maurice D. Roush, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Dr. Sarah Sewall, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance; Foreign Policy Adviser to Senator George J. Mitchell

Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Director of the Center for Defense Information and currently Chairman, Military Advisory Committee, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities

LTG James M. Thompson, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Chief of Military Mission to Turkey (JUSMMAT); Chief of Staff, Allied Forces, Southern Europe

Vice Admiral Ralph Weymouth, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Commanding Officer of Flagship on Commander Middle East Force; Northern NATO Desk Officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Internal Security Affairs; and Commander, Iceland Defense Force

Friday, August 18, 2006

American Hero III

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. . . . There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."

Monday, August 14, 2006

The end of the republic

"Four sorrows ... are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787.

"First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut.

"Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co- equal 'executive branch' of overnment into a military junta.

"Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.

"Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens."

-- Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)

Chalmers Johnson is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, a non-profit research and public affairs organization devoted to public education concerning Japan and international relations in the Pacific. He taught for thirty years, 1962-1992, at the Berkeley and San Diego campuses of the University of California and held endowed chairs in Asian politics at both of them. At Berkeley he served as chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies and as chairman of the Department of Political Science. His B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in economics and political science are all from the University of California, Berkeley.

He first visited Japan in 1953 as a U.S. Navy officer and has lived and worked there with his wife, the anthropologist Sheila K. Johnson, virtually every year since 1961. Chalmers Johnson has been honored with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Guggenheim Foundation; and in 1976 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Chertoff Says U.S. Needs More Authority

WASHINGTON Aug 13, 2006 (AP)— The nation's chief of homeland security said Sunday that the U.S. should consider reviewing its laws to allow for more electronic surveillance and detention of possible terror suspects, citing last week's foiled plot.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stopped short of calling for immediate changes, noting there might be constitutional barriers to the type of wide police powers the British had in apprehending suspects in the plot to blow up airliners headed to the U.S.

But Chertoff made clear his belief that wider authority could thwart future attacks at a time when Congress is reviewing the proper scope of the Bush administration's executive powers for its warrantless eavesdropping program and military tribunals for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

-- Hope Yen, Associated Press. Read more (and weep) here or here.

I mean, after all, they've done so well with the authority that they already have.

U.S. Pressured UK To Arrest Alleged Terror Suspects

08/12/06 "NBC News"-- -LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

The source did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.

At the White House, a top aide to President Bush denied the account.

-- Aram Roston, Lisa Myers, and the NBC News Investigative Unit

The road to Armageddon

"In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. 'It’s a moment of clarification,' President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. 'It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.' He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the 'root causes of instability,' and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until 'the conditions are conducive.'

"The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preĆ«mptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground."

-- SEYMOUR M. HERSH, The New Yorker. Read the rest here or here.

'fess up, Rush, you pigdog

This item is a leftover from summer vacation. Yeah, its old news, but why did you only see the obvious conclusions drawn in the blogosphere?

The Dominican Republic has become something of a mecca for sex tourism according to several articles I've read recently (one, two, three. four).

I suddenly remembered that iconic, drugged-out, loud-mouthed Rush Limbaugh had been arrested this summer for possession of Viagra without a prescription while disembarking from a plane returning from ... you guessed it ... the Dominican Republic (one, two, three, four).

Connect the dots, people. That this creep has any remaining credibility with his dittohead legions is even more proof positive that they are all a pack of drooling morons.

BTW, here is a video of Robin Williams' hilarious take on the incident (sorry, it's from a right wing blog, but the link should take you right to the clip).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A picture worth a thousand gallons of oil

From Greg Palast's web site:

Still think it was about weapons of mass destruction, America?

Cynic's disease

Help me, o occasional readership. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, the acidic machinations of my cynical mind? The sheer coincidence of a major terror plot foiled in London one day after Neil Lamont's victory rachets the Bushite revulsion reality up a few notches .. does anyone else think that this smells a bit fishy ... or Rovey? Afterall, we know the Blair "New Labour" regime is hand-in-glove with the Stateside Neocon tyranny. "Whoops, time to crank up the fear machine."

For your consideration. Note the absence of details. Names? Dates? Photos?

But the stirring of hysteria? In surfeit:

Here's DHS Bungler-in-chief Chertoff: "We cannot assume that the threat has been completely thwarted," U.S. homeland security chief Michael Chertoff told a hastily called breakfast-time news conference in Washington.

Or how about the AP's evocative headline: "Chilling Dread Re-Emerges With Air Plot."

"This had the earmarks of an al-Qaida plot," FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters in Washington.

"This nation is at war with Islamic fascists," Bush said, reading from his own handwritten statement on the tarmac of the Green Bay airport.

But maybe I'm just wrong. Right?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bummer In The Summer

Arthur Lee (1945-2006)

No, life is not fair. Arthur Lee was on the road back to revelation, if not riches. Out of jail, making music. A man who was the fulcrum of one of rock music's pivot points, an album called "Forever Changes," that is on everyone's list of the greatest rock albums ever made.

The band was called Love, and the music that arose out of the internecine tension among the members ignited Sunset Strip for several years in the mid-sixties. In the twilight of their dissolution, "Forever Changes" emerged unexpectedly, another rung on the ladder of brilliant pop that included "Sgt. Pepper" and "Pet Sounds." I remember huddling around the stereo speakers in my friend Joel's apartment, all of 15 years old, as the acoustic flamenco guitar intro of "Alone Again Or" echoed in my brain for the very first time.

Ironically, in most respects, that was the nadir of Lee's musical career. But unlike most, I continued to listen. I rushed to the Fillmore East not to see the headlining Grateful Dead, or the 1st national tour of the opening act the Allman Brothers, but to watch my rock hero Arthur Lee with his reformed Love struggle to win over a crowd either wowed by a doomed guitar virtuoso named Duane Allman, or else impatient for Jerry Garcia and company. Over the years I never failed to find the obscure solo albums Lee released periodically on equally obscure labels. I signed petitions protesting Lee's draconian sentence on a brandishing weapons charge. And I celebrated his release from incarceration and joyous live recording of the entire "Forever Changes Concert"at Royal Festival Hall in January 2003.

"'Forever Changes' were my last words of Love," he told Creem magazine in 1981. "My last words to the world, only I've been here ever since. Just like a guy saying goodbye, and you look out your front door, and he's still there 15 years later."

But now, he's gone for good. No, it was not drugs and hard-living that finally took "the original black hippie" down. It was incurable leukemia. Arthur Lee died on August 3, 2006 in Memphis, Tennessee, the city where he was born.

"Yeah, said it's all right
I won't forget
All the times I've waited patiently for you
And you'll do just what you choose to do
And I will be alone again tonight my dear"

Primary foe rips Hillary on Israel

Yes, Hillary Clinton DOES have a primary opponent. And you can be sure that Rupert Murdoch isn't hosting any fund raisers for him!

From the August 1, 2006 NY Daily News, by Helen Kennedy:

Hillary Clinton's primary opponent lashed out at the senator over Israel yesterday, blaming the deaths of 37 children in Qana on her refusal to push for a ceasefire.

"She, and a broad segment of our political leadership, bear responsibility for the deaths of these children," Democrat Jonathan Tasini said in a statement. The youngsters were among about 60 civilians killed in Israel's weekend strike on the southern Lebanese town of Qana.

"Rather than call for restraint, Hillary Clinton stopped just short of declaring, 'Let the bombs fall.'"

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson called Tasini's statement "outrageous and beyond the pale" but didn't engage further.

In intensely personal terms, Tasini, who is Jewish and has lived in Israel, also branded Clinton a pandering chicken hawk.

"I know what it is like to sit in a bomb shelter or touch the body of a person killed by war," Tasini said.

He said his father fought in the Jewish underground that helped found Israel in the 1940s, a cousin was killed in the 1973 war and an elderly relative was axed to death by a Palestinian while sitting on a park bench.

"Has Hillary Clinton or other so-called 'friends of Israel,' who have cheered for armed conflict and death and destruction, ever spent one night in fear from war or sobbing in sorrow because of the death of a loved one in war?" he asked. "For them, it is all about political calculations, pandering and votes."

Tasini, a former president of the National Writers Union, has been struggling to gain traction against his monumentally better known and better funded opponent.

Clinton has ignored his attempts to get her to agree to a League of Women Voters debate Sept. 6 ahead of the Sept. 12 primary.

Israel does not act or speak for every Jew

From the August 4, 2006 Sydney Morning Herald:

"I write as a Jew and as a synagogue member. I write as one whose academic work continues to move through questions of Jewish identity and the legacy of the Holocaust. Yet, I write with a growing sense of shame. The source of the feeling is simple: Israel claims that it continues to act in my name.

"The Jewish community in Sydney and elsewhere insists on identifying themselves with Israeli actions. These acts are part of a tradition in which the state of Israel has set the measure for being Jewish."

-- Andrew Benjamin. Full article here or here.

The Jerk: Why Saddam had to go

Greg Palast proves once again why he is our nation's most dogged and courageous investigative reporter:

For two years, the State Department (and Defense and the White House) denied there were secret plans for Iraq's oil. They told us so in writing. That was the first indication the plan existed. Proving that, and getting a copy, became the near-to-pathologic obsession of our team.

Our big break came when James Baker's factotum, Amy Jaffe, first reached on her cell in Amsterdam, then at Baker's operation in Houston, convinced herself that I had the right to know about the plan. I saw no reason to correct her impression. To get the plan's title I used a truly dumb trick, asking if her copy's headings matched mine. She read it to me and listed its true authors from the industry.

The plan carries the State Department logo on the cover, Washington DC. But it was crafted in Houston, under the tutelage of the oil industry -- including, we discovered, Donald Hertzmark, an advisor to the Indonesia state oil company, and Garfield Miller of Aegis Energy, advisors to Solomon Smith Barney, all hosted by the James A. Baker III Institute.

After a year of schmoozing, Jaffe invited me to the Baker lair in Houston.

The James A. Baker III Institute is constructed a bit like a church or mosque, with a large echoing rotunda under a dome at its center, encircled by memorabilia and photos of the Great Man himself with the world's leaders, about evenly split between dictators and democrats.

And there is the obligatory shot of a smiling Nelson Mandela shaking Baker III's hand. (Mandela is not so impolite as to remind Jim that he was Reagan's Chief of Staff when Reagan coddled the regime that kept Mandela imprisoned.)

For tax purposes, it's an educational institute, and looking through the alarm-protected display cases along the wall was unquestionably an education. You could virtually write the recommendations of the 'Options for Iraqi Oil' report by a careful inspection of the trinkets of Baker's travels among the powerful.

There is the golden royal robe given Baker by Kazakh strongman Nazerbaev, the one who shared in the $51 million payment from ExxonMobil -- a James A. Baker client -- and alongside it a jeweled sword with a note from Nazerbaev, "Jim, there will always be a slice for you." (I made that up.)

Who is this James A. Baker III that he rates a whole institute, and one that will tell Iraq its oil future? Once Secretary of State to Bush Sr., Baker was now promoted to consigliere to ExxonMobil, the Republican National Committee and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In Houston, I found in Jaffe a preppy, talky Jewish girl with a Bronx accent like a dentist's drill who, stranded in a cowboy world, poignantly wanted to be one of The Boys. She thinks she can accomplish this through fashion accoutrements -- she showed me her alligator cowboy boots and rolled her eyes -- "for Rodeo Day!"

Lucky for me and my (hidden) recorder, she did not learn from Baker and the boys' Rule #1 for rulers: shut up.

So while Amy was in the mood to say too much, and before I got into the details of Big Oil's plan for Iraq, I needed Amy's help in finding the answer to the question that was just driving me crazy: why did Saddam have to go? Why did the oil industry promote an invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam?

The question is basic but the answer is not at all obvious.

We know the neo-cons' answer: Their ultimate target of the invasion was Saudi Arabia, which would be cut low by a Free Iraq's busting the OPEC oil cartel. But Big Oil wouldn't let that happen. The neo-cons' scheme ended up an unnoted smear under
Amy's alligator boot heels.

And we can rule out Big Oil's desire for Iraq's oil as the decisive motive to invade. The last thing the oil industry wanted from Iraq in 2001 was a lot more oil.

Neither Saddam's affection for euro currency nor panic over oil supply 'peaking' ruffled the international oil industry. What, then, made Saddam, so easy to hug in the 1980s, unbearable in the 1990s?

Saddam had to go, but why?

Amy told me they held meetings about it.

Beginning just after Bush's Florida 'victory' in December 2000, the shepherds of the planet's assets got together to plan our energy future under the weighty aegis of the "Joint Task Force on Petroleum of the James A. Baker III Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations." The master plan makers included Paul Bremer's and Kissinger's partner, Mack McLarty, CEO of Kissinger McLarty Associates; John Manzoni of British Petroleum; Luis Giusti, former CEO of the Venezuelan state oil company (until Hugo Chavez kicked him out); Ken Lay of Enron (pre-indictment); Philip Verleger of the National Petroleum Council, and other movers and shakers crucial to such bi-partisan multi-continental group gropes -- all chaired by Dr. Edward Morse, the insider's insider, from Hess Oil Trading.

Their final report detailed Saddam's crimes. Gassing Kurds and Iranians? No. James A. Baker was the Reagan Chief of Staff when the U.S. provided Saddam the intelligence to better target his chemical weapons. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Not since this crowd stopped selling him the components.

In the sanitary words of the Council on Foreign Relations' report (written up by Jaffe herself), Saddam's problem was that he was a "swinger":

Tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key "swing" producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government.

Now hold on a minute: Why is our government in a "difficult" position if Iraq is a "swing producer" of oil?

The answer was that Saddam was jerking the oil market up and down. One week, without notice, the man in the moustache suddenly announces he's going to "support the Palestinian intifada" and cuts off all oil shipments. The result: Worldwide oil prices jump up. The next week, Saddam forgets about the Palestinians and pumps to the maximum allowed under the Oil-for-Food Program. The result: Oil prices suddenly dive-bomb. Up, down, up, down. Saddam was out of control.

"Control is what it's all about," one oilman told me. "It's not about getting the oil, it's about controlling oil's price."

So, within days of Bush's election in November 2000, the James Baker Institute issued this warning:

In a market with so little cushion to cover unexpected events, oil prices become extremely sensitive to perceived supply risks. Such a market increases the potential leverage of an otherwise lesser producer such as Iraq...

I met with Falah Aljibury, an advisor to Goldman Sachs, the Baker/CFR group and, I discovered, host to the State Department's invasion planning meetings in February 2001. The Iraqi-born industry man put it this way: "Iraq is not stable, a wild card." Saddam cuts production, or suddenly boosts it, playing games with the U.N. over the Oil-for-Food Program. The tinpot despot was, almost alone, setting the weekly world price of oil and Big Oil did not care for that. In the CFR's sober language:

Saddam is a "destabilizing influence... to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East."

With Saddam out of control, jerking markets up and down, the price of controlling the price was getting just too high. Saddam drove the oil boys bonkers. For example, Saddam's games pushed the State Department, disastrously, to launch, in April 2002, a coup d'etat in Venezuela.

This could not stand. Saddam delighted in playing cat-and-mouse with the USA and our oil majors. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't playing with mice, but a much bigger and unforgiving breed of rodents.

Saddam was asking for it. It was time for a "military assessment." The CFR concluded:

Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon to manipulate oil markets... United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy,
economic, and political/diplomatic assessments.

The true motive to invade Iraq, Saddam's "manipulation of oil markets," was there, but not yet, in April 2001, the official excuse.

Not surprisingly, the desires of the "Project for a New American Century," the neo-con field of dreams, of remaking Arabia, was not in the Baker Institute-CFR plan. However, the conclusion, Saddam must go, matched the neo-con's policy demand, if for highly different reasons. The Baker-CFR panel had a limited concern: Get rid of the jerk, the guy yanking the market.

Morse was close-lipped about who saw and used the 2001 Baker-CFR report, but Amy Jaffe could not help telling me that Morse reported its conclusions in a briefing at the Pentagon.

More important, back in early 2001, the initial Baker-CFR report (another participant tipped me) was handed directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney met secretly with CFR task force members (including Ken Lay) to go over the maps of Iraq's oil fields. That, apparently, sealed it. Cheney took the CFR/Baker recommendations as his own plan for dissecting Iraq, I'm told, beginning with the none-too-thinly-veiled take-out-Saddam "assessment."

And whose plan was it? I knew the membership of the Baker-CFR group was Big Oil and its retainers. But I was curious to know who put up the cash for drafting the extravagant report that was so protective of OPEC and Saudi interests. This document was, after all, the outline on which the Bush administration drew its grand design for energy, from Iraq to California to Venezuela. According to Jaffe, the cost of this exercise in Imperialism Lite was funded by "the generous support of Khalid al-Turki" of Saudi Arabia.

Excerpt adapted from Greg Palast's just-released New York Times bestseller, "ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War."

Scripps poll: One-third see U.S. hand in 9/11

Thomas Hargrove and Guido H. Stempel III, Scripps Howard News Service
August 2, 2006

"More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

"The national survey of 1,010 adults also found that anger against the federal government is at record levels, with 54 percent saying they "personally are more angry" at the government than they used to be.

"Widespread resentment and alienation toward the national government appears to be fueling a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories about the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"Suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were 'an inside job' - the common phrase used by conspiracy theorists on the Internet - quickly have become nearly as popular as decades-old conspiracy theories that the federal government was responsible for President John F. Kennedy's assassination and that it has covered up proof of space aliens.

"Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is 'very likely' or 'somewhat likely' that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them 'because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.'

So, this is essentially rough parity with the percentage of the populace who still support Dubya. But as far as I can tell they didn't ask the logical follow-up question: "Do you really care?"

Links to whole story: One, Two, Three.

Pulling the Plug on Israel

David Himmelstein, a writer and teacher in Montreal, reflects in Counterpunch on the consequences of blind, unwavering and uncritical support for Israel as a pawn of the Neoconservative madness:

"Whether or not it has reached critical mass, there exists a heterogeneous agglomeration of Jewish people around the world-- e.g., moi--for whom the state of Israel has come to represent an 800-pound albatross that needs to be pried from our necks before it drags us over a cliff. A sense of urgency is propelled by the U.S.-sanctioned bloodletting in Lebanon and Gaza (which now seems to have been planned in advance) and the evident flimsiness of its official justification. With Israeli adventurism on the march, there are well founded fears concerning the general threat that country poses to the peace of the world.

"And there is a paticularized danger which stirs a thick chunk of self-interest into the universalism of enlightened Jewish concern. In terms of the fabled Jewish-interest litmus, it is proving decidedly not 'good for the Jews' when Israel gets away with murder. The spillover is ubiquitous. After all, we have it on no lesser authority than New York Times heavyweight Thomas Friedman that, in the early days of the American occupation of Iraq, American soldiers in Iraq were being referred to on the Iraqi street as 'the Jews'.

Read the rest here or here.

"The worst-case scenario was laid out with characteristic bluntness by dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in a Zmag interview:

'I believe what Israel is doing will destroy the Jewish people in the near or distant future as well. Even with 250 nuclear weapons and the support of the world,s only superpower.'

"Supporting scenario has been sketched in by veteran peace activist Uri Avnery:

'What would happen for example if the United States sank ever deeper into the bloody swamp of Iraq, into an atmosphere of national calamity? When the search for a scapegoat is on, the Jewish neo-cons will stick out. . . .One should not exaggerate these dangers. At present they are hardly specks on the horizon. But I would advise the leaders of the Jewish institutions in the United States to exercise some self-restraint. Intoxication with power can easily lead to dangerous excesses.'"

Read the rest here or here.

Understatement of the year

I was flying home from Chicago the other day and happened to pause in front of four newspaper vending machines hawking the NY times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today and one other rag the name of which I can't remember. All had nearly identical headlines: "Iraq nears civil war."

"NEARS" civil war? And what would Rummie and his ship of fools have us believe has been going on for the past year? Warm-up? And if these have just been the preliminaries, can we even imagine what is in store for Iraq during the "real thing?"

It's not just the emperor who is without clothes. It's the whole damn empire.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The cracks in the wall of deception

Now that the 9/11 Commission has revealed that it suspected the Pentagon of subterfuge in regard to their reports on September 11, one can only wonder what more revelations concerning that day of infamy await us.

It's been interesting hearing moderate liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz slowly shift from outright contempt for 9/11 conspiracy theorists to slightly more measured tones over just a few days. I'm sure the latest news from Kean and company had something to due with Big Eddie's second thoughts.

I've seen all the movies and weighed all the evidence in my own mind, and the bottom line is this: something just doesn't add up. This seems especially true in regard to the hit on the Pentagon (for balance, here is evidence in support of the official story. And here, from the same source, is a conspiracy about the conspiracy). But the collapse of Building 7 still remains a mystery (and most people think only two towers fell).

More links to Dan Eggen's Washington Post story or related items at other sites: One, Two, Three, Four.

And you, too, can visit Scholars for 9/11 Truth and decide for yourself.

So what I do think? At best, we witnessed the most glaring examples of U.S. governmental incompetence in history, which has become a consistent performance standard for this administration.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mad Max

OK, those of you (relatively) frequent visitors know that I don't stoop to this kind of item too often, but this guy has been such a pomous ass long enough that it's about time he got his comeupance.

Or maybe I should just say "F**kin' Aussies!"

But absolution is at hand.

Former Bush Spokesman Urges Newspapers to Run Pro-War Stories by Former Vets With GOP Ties

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

The Buffalo News has revealed that a former spokesman for President Bush has been encouraging U.S. newspapers to run news stories from Iraq written by two combat veterans who are now embedded reporters in Iraq. The veterans are from a pro-war group called Vets for Freedom that has ties to the Republican Party.

Full article here at Democracy Now!

You mean Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine isn't good enough?

The Alchemists: Turning Blood Into Gold

During the time I was on vacation, I stockpiled a handful of items that I knew I would want to re-visit once regular internet connectivity was available. Here's one that should raise your blood pressure some more. What is the most galling thing is how these criminals pretend that they are acting in the name of peace, justice and freedom. Damn them to hell.

From Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

Thursday, 22 June 2006 This is an expanded version of the column appearing in the June 23 edition of The Moscow Times.

This week an interesting story appeared in the Washington Post – buried on page 16, of course, lest anyone think it was of the slightest importance. It revealed that documentary proof has now emerged confirming the fact that in the spring of 2003, the Bush Regime – flush with its illusory "victory" in Iraq – spurned a wide-ranging peace feeler from Iran which offered "full cooperation" on every issue that the Bushists claim to be concerned about in regard to Tehran: "nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups."

The offer was made through the Swiss Embassy, which has served as the conduit for communication between Washington and Tehran since America's Peacock patsy, the Shah of Iran, was overthrown in 1979. The 2003 proposal included "full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, 'decisive action,' against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending 'material support' for Palestinian militias and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [which called for all Muslim states to recognize Israel]," the Post reports. The unprecedented initiative was approved by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and then-President Mohammad Khatami – the moderate whose attempts at dialogue were mocked and undercut at every turn by the Bush Regime, helping to discredit the entire reformist movement in Iran and leading to Khatami's replacement by the militant hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In other words, everything that George W. Bush says he wants from the Iranians now, he could have had for the asking – three years ago. What then can we conclude from the rejection of this extraordinary initiative? The answer is obvious: that the Bush Faction is not really interested in curbing nuclear proliferation or defusing the powder keg of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the regional and global terror that it spawns.

What are they interested in? This answer too is obvious, to anyone who's been paying the slightest attention to the Faction's words and actions over the years: t
hey are interested in loot and dominion. What they want from Iran is nothing less than its return to quasi-colonial control by the crony conquistadors of the West. And they're willing to play a (reasonably) long game to get it.

In the meantime, it serves their interests well for the entire Middle East to seethe and boil. War and rumors of war are engines of limitless profits for the crony-cons. It sends oil prices sky-high and keeps those pork-laden co
ntracts for weapons and "military servicing" rolling in. And the terrorism that thrives in this deliberately created chaos is another massive money-maker, as vast armies of "security consultants" ply their political connections to gobble up tons of insider grease. Bush Regime minions have led the way in this alchemical transmutation of fear into gold: more than 90 officials from the Department of Homeland Security have stampeded through the revolving door from government service to lucrative private posts with companies seeking – and getting – fat deals from, er, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Times reports.

Billions of dollars are being generated for the fortunate few by war and terror; why kill the golden goose of chaos by pursuing Middle East peace? Far better to keep the madness churning until you see a chance to grab complete control, as in Iraq; then you can start squeezing your conquest dry. And if it doesn't work out, if it all blows up, who cares? You're just back to the same old profitable chaos, biding your time, banking your wad – and squeezing your own country dry – until the next go-round. It's the ultimate win-win scenario.

The only losers are the rest of us – but above all, the populations of the Middle East. For it's an indisputable fact, confirmed every day, by every policy decision made in Washington, that the Bush Faction doesn't give a damn about the ordinary people in that tormented region – not even the Israelis. It doesn't care about their freedom, their security, their children; it doesn't care if they live or die; it only cares about their exploitable resources and their geopolitical usefulness to the Faction's openly stated desire for "full spectrum dominance" over the political and economic life of the globe. There is no other conclusion to be drawn from the Bushists' actual record – what they actually do, what they actually support, and what they actually ignore – once you strip away their cynical, ever-shifting rhetoric.

If Bush really wanted peace in the Middle East, he would have pursued Iran's unprecedented offer of "full cooperation" in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If Bush really wanted to eliminate the danger of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, he would have seized on Tehran's offer of "full cooperation" to do so. It's as simple as that. But he chose not to take up the offers. These goals are not priorities for him. His interests lie elsewhere.

By the way, Saddam made a very similar offer just before the invasion, as the New York Times reported in 2003: acquiescence to U.S. initiatives on Israel-Palestine; full cooperation on WMD inspections; even internationally supervised elections, wh
ich would have almost certainly ousted him from power, were on the table. Everything that Bush claimed he went to war for in Iraq – disarmament, regime change, reducing Middle East tensions, democracy for the Iraqi people – he could have had, for the asking, without war.

But the Bushist crony-cons wanted war in Iraq, come hell or high water – or even Saddam's surrender. Again, this is not supposition, it's a fact. As we've often reported here, in September 2000 a "think tank" led by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld published a report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," stating that the imposition of an American military presence in Iraq was a strategic imperative "transcending the regime of Saddam Hussein." In this same report, the Cheney-Rumsfeld group also acknowledged that it would take a "new Pearl Harbor" to "catalyze" the American people into readily accepting their radical plans for military expansion abroad and vast new "defense" spending at home. Not only can these wizards turn fear into gold; they can apparently see into the future as well.

Now that same crystal ball shows them the wealth of Persia falling like ripe fruit into their hands. They may feign diplomacy for the moment, biding their time, profiting from chaos -- but as in Iraq, no offer of peace will deter them from the inevitable smash-and-grab.

-- Original post here.

Hot enough for you?

This map comes from the July 2nd-28th Economist. Meanwhile, record high temperatures scald the northeast and midwest.

All of which reminds me of a prophetic and hallucinatory novel by Ted Mooney calledTraffic And Laughter in which fires burn uncontrollably in Los Angeles while people succumb to what is called (but never explained) "information disease."

And our Nero in DC is forevermore the perplexed deer caught in the headlights of circumstance and failure, finally his place in history assured. I can only wish on him many years of horrible dreams, to wake up screaming night after night, "the blood, the blood, so much blood."

What heights of illogic are reachable by the unrecovered alcoholic who finds a paper Christ that can wipe away his tears? That in bringing upon the world some form of apocalypse, "thy will be done, my lord?"

Back to a global climate in crisis. In the book,
Divine Destruction: Dominion Theology and American Environmental Policy (Melville Manifestos), Stephanie Hendricks documents the influence of the Dominion Theologists on this administration's environmental policy. These far-right wackos believe that eco-destruction will hasten the second coming of Jesus. And, according to this book, officials within the Bush administration claim the Kyoto Accord on climate change was not signed by this president because it was "against God's prophecies."

Well, I'll sleep better at night, won't you? Oh, and could you turn the thermostat down, please? It's awfully hot in here.

Support from Iraq Combat Veterans Continues to Mount for Lt. Ehren Watada

On August 17, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq. “It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we’re doing over there is illegal,” explained the first military officer to publicly take such a stand.As supporters internationally gear up for the "National Day of Education" on Aug 16 to ask the question "Is the Iraq War Illegal?," support from Iraq combat veterans continues to mount for Lt. Ehren Watada.

Below are just a few statements of support from the many that the "Friends and Family of Lt. Watada" have received.

Cloy Richards, US Marine Iraq War infantry/artillery
"Lt. Watada, along with every other service member who has the courage to stand up and say no to this illegal war are MY WAR HEROES. Thank you Lt. Watada for standing up for me and every veteran. I admire your courage and patriotism. I wish I was brave enough to stand up and say no when it really counted. Instead I said OK and went along with the lies I was told."
Read more

Clifton Hicks, US Army Iraq War tanker
"You've done something to be proud of man, you're setting an excellent example for every soldier in the armed forces. History will prove that you were right."
Read more

Chad Hetman, Captain, US Army infantry
"Hopefully this officer will set an example for other officers to follow...This is what courage and ethics looks like."
Read more

Garett Reppenhagen, US Army Iraq War sniper
"Thank you Lt. Watada. I was a sniper in the 1st Infantry Division and spent one year at FOB Scunion in Baquaba Iraq. I went to war believing that I had an obligation to my country because I signed a contract and gave an oath that I would be the weapon of my democracy. After my experience in combat I firmly believe that,that social contract has been broken."
Read more

Read more statements of support here