Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another day in the reality-based community

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

-- Ron Suskind, from "Without A Doubt," NY Times Magazine, 10/17/2004

I've always figured that the senior aide was Karl Rove. Now read the previous post for a report from the reality creators. Yes, that is synonymous with kool-aid drinkers.

Laura Bush: Much Of Iraq Is ‘Stable,’ There’s Just ‘One Bombing A Day That Discourages Everybody’

Tonight on Larry King Live, First Lady Laura Bush said she understands “how the American people feel” when they express frustration over Iraq, but insisted that “to leave now would be a serious mistake.” She said of Iraqis, “This is their opportunity to seize the moment, to build a really good and stable country.”

As AmericaBlog first noted, Bush added, “[M]any parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody.” Watch it:


According to the latest Brookings Institution Iraq Index, as of November 2006, there were approximately 185 insurgent and militia attacks every day.

courtesy ThinkProgress

Monday, February 26, 2007

Severe poverty rate at highest in three decades

Plight of poorest of poor extends to suburban areas

By TONY PUGH McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON — The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high as the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of the 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 — half the federal poverty line — was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period.

McClatchy's review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to other areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries.

That helps explain why the median household income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty — the highest rate since at least 1975.

The growth, which leveled off in 2005, in part reflects how hard it is for low-skilled workers to earn their way out of poverty in an unstable job market that favors skilled and educated workers. It also suggests that social programs aren't as effective as they once were at catching those who fall into economic despair.

Can it get any worse?

Yes it can. While America is inveigled by the Anna Nicole-Britney-Oscar-American Idol circus, Sy Hersh uncovers yet another machination of the Cheney-Saud-Bush imperium. My God, will these jackals stop at nothing, including funneling money to groups allied with Al-Qaeda?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

4th Day of July

Tom Rapp was the leader of a mid-60's-early 70's acid folk band called Pearls Before Swine, a cult fave (I was a big fan) that produced a total of 7 albums of Rapp's wonderfully literate songs, 2 on ESP records, and 5 on Warners/Reprise (during its house hippy days, long gone).

Rapp then went on to make 2 solo albums for Blue Thumb Records before seemingly disappearing into oblivion. In actuality he became a civil rights lawyer in Pennsylvania and now lives in Clearwater, FL. He recently came out with a new solo album called "A Journal of the Plague Years."

On the only one of hi
s albums that has never been put on CD called "Stardancer," Rapp wrote a song called "Fourth Day of July" that seems as relevant today as it did back in those halcyon Nixon years. It reads like poetry, as do many of his songs, but the strength of this one is its lack of metaphor:

And it came to pass on the first day of July
The last man home from Vietnam was going to arrive
The ship came in so silently, its bow a ghostly white
And when they looked upon the decks, there was not a man inside

Then the sea began to roll and from the ship a moaning
A line of broken children, all from the ship a-coming
The light of death was in their eyes
The broken children of Vietnam
On the first day of July

Like a war beyond control, to Washington at dawn
A line of ghostly children upon the White House lawn
Grown men did turn away, not to see it anymore
To see the burning child running to the White House door
No one found a place to hide
The burning children of Vietnam
On the second of July

All across America a line ten miles long
The dead children all coming home
From the land of Vietnam
To men who got too far away
From what was done in their name
Someday must all have to pay
Who never saw a child die
The dead children all coming home
Four days in July

On every door and window across this sad gray land
A mark that would never go away of a thousand thousand hands
A voice like voices in a dream
A voice like somebody else's scream
Or NOT somebody's else's scream
A voice within a fire
The burning children of Vietnam
On the third day of July

Then they came upon the sea, it did open up before them
A line of children all with wounds, upon the ocean walking
Then the sky began to rain
And beat the land with tears of rage
And every year upon that day if a hundred years go by
It rains upon America
On the fourth day of July

Nature's furious beauty

A friend sent me this incredible photo of the tornado that ripped through Central Florida a week or so ago. Despite the misery that this phenomenon spawned, it is difficult not to be awed by the stark beauty of the image.

What is WRONG with those Democrats?

WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for tighter ethics rules in federal agencies Wednesday after government officials approved the purchase of a $980,000 vacation home by a top Justice Department lawyer with an oil company lobbyist.

Pelosi's criticism followed an Associated Press report last week that department ethics officials did not object when Sue Ellen Wooldridge, then head of the environment division, was buying a South Carolina beach house with Donald R. Duncan, the top Washington lobbyist for ConocoPhillips.

A Bush Justice Department environmental lawyer sleeping with an oil lobbyist?!?! Hell, that's incest!

Oops,wrong planet

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH (in his January 2007 Stateof the Union stand-up comedy monologue): "From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing and free-flowing communications are long over. The terrorist’s life since 9/11 has never been the same."

Reality check: As the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion approaches, a new study by Mother Jones magazine has found that the number of fatal terrorist attacks has increased by over 600 percent since the U.S. invasion.

The study, “The Iraq Effect: The War in Iraq and its Impact on the War on Terrorism,” is co-authored by Paul Cruickshank, Fellow at New York University Law School’s Center on Law and Security.

"Oh, well."

Yeah, that's Dubya, supporting our troops (only for as long as they can carry a gun)

A top Army general admitted on Wednesday there has been a “breakdown in leadership” at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The comments of General Richard Cody, the Army's Vice Chief of Staff, came three days after the Washington Post revealed that hospital rooms at Walter Reed were infested with mouse droppings, cockroaches, stained carpets, rodents and black mold. General Cody said no one has been fired or relieved of command because of the neglected facility but he vowed that the Army would immediately fix the problems.

Read more here.

Hmmm, "breakdown in leadership..." Isn't that the theme song of this administration?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You mean they lied?

Audit: Anti-terror case data flawed

by LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 20, 4:35 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors counted immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking among anti-terror cases in the four years after 9/11 even though no evidence linked them to terror activity, a Justice Department audit said Tuesday.

Overall, nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics on investigations, referrals and cases examined by department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine were either diminished or inflated. Only two of 26 sets of department data reported between 2001 and 2005 were accurate, the audit found.

Or was it just incompetence?

Full article here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

9/11 Press For Truth

9/11 heresies

If I even breath a word of doubt about the "official" story of September 11, 2001 among some of my friends who share my leftward politics, I can be assured of receiving reactions that range from pity through condescension to abject outrage. While I have never been comfortable with some of the loonier claims of the 9/11 Truth movement (i.e., the film "Loose Change," at least in part), I have continously been swayed by the reasoned logic of some of the other nay-sayers in the movement (i.e., the film "9/11 Mysteries").

Recently, The Nation ran an article by Chris Hayes entitled the "9/11: The Roots of Paranoia" that was largely critical of the 9/11 Truth movement. A few weeks later, the magazine reported that it received more letters in response to that article than it for any item in 20 years.

No single issue can divide the liberal-left-progressive community faster than 9/11 conspiracy theories. But the fact remains, the most secretive U.S. administration in history has been incomprehensibly ultrasecretive about the events of September 11, 2001. And given the volumes of prevarications fed to us by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice cabal, why shouldn't be suspicious of their take on the WTC and Pentagon disasters as well?

Much has been made of the Popular Mechanics article that supposedly laid to rest all of the questions raised by the 9/11 truth movement. Not surprisingly, the 9/11 truth movement has responsed in like kind with several articles of their own.
Interestingly, according to American Free Press, the "senior researcher" of the PM piece, Benjamin Chertoff, is none other than a cousin of Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sander Hicks voiced a spirited defense of the 9/11 truth movement on Alternet. I reprint the article from Alternet in its entirety:

9/11: The Case Isn't Closed

By Sander Hicks, AlterNet. Posted February 2, 2007

Editor's note: The role of the alternative press is to offer perspectives that the commercial media won't touch. Having run a number of articles critical of the "9/11 Truth Movement" by Matt Taibbi, Joshua Holland, Matthew Rothschild and others, we asked Sander Hicks, a prominent voice within the movement, to share his perspective. For more of Sanders' views, see his book "The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up."

No matter what you believe about who was responsible for 9/11, and how it went down, we're all amazed at how much political capital the events of that day produced for this administration: A bipartisan consensus on torture; an era of permanent war; detentions without trial; "no fly" lists for activists; the Bill of Rights gone with the wind, and a cowed professional media willing to self-censor and suppress pertinent information. The 9/11 "America Attacked" story has distracted us from the natural outrage we should feel over illegal wiretaps, stolen elections, hundreds of billions of dollars missing at the Pentagon, war profiteering, Enron and Cheney's secret energy policy.

But with Bush's popularity at a record low, a Zogby poll shows that over 40 percent of Americans now think there has been a "coverup" around 9/11. A more recent poll conducted at the Scripps-Howard/University of Ohio found more than a third of those asked said it was likely that "people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

So, it's probably no surprise that the propaganda mills of the State Department have recently been cranking out attack websites, targeting 9/11 skepticism. And it's not a shocker that the normal channels of media have followed suit (Time, New York Times, etc.) What's weird is how similar the attacks sound in the hallowed halls of "respectable" left political opinion. A recent column on AlterNet by the Progressive's Matthew Rothschild matched the recent bromides of Counterpunch's Alexander Cockburn. In both pieces, the way 9/11 has been questioned was attacked, with no alternatives suggested. Instead, questioning 9/11 at all was belittled with sweeping generalizations.

What happened to critical thinking? I thought "the Left" believed that the system's power is based on lies, exploitation and a media controlled by its own culture of overly cautious professionalism. The Left should be leading this 9/11 movement, not taking potshots from outside. Unfortunately, some of the movement's theories, like "the towers came down through a controlled demolition" sound esoteric at first blush. The "No Plane Hit the Pentagon" theory is a loose thread in a maze going nowhere.

The Left has no right to ignore or insult people for trying to assemble the puzzle that is 9/11.

Consider some of the pieces:

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage is a figure bloodied by his work in Iran/Contra. He and then-CIA Director George Tenet had extensive meetings in Pakistan with President Musharraf in the spring of 2001, according to the Asia Times.

Then, Pakistan's top spy, Mahmood Ahmad, visited Washington for a week, taking meetings with top State Department people like Tenet and Mark Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs. The Pakistani press reported, "ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood's weeklong presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council." Did they know that Ahmad had wired over $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, through U.K. national Saeed Sheikh in the summer of 2001? (Facts all confirmed, quietly, by the FBI investigation in Pakistan, and, partially, in the Wall Street Journal.)

That means that our top people at the State Department enjoyed only a few degrees of separation from 9/11's lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta. Here's the real kicker: As this story first broke in the Times of India, in October 2001, instead of retaliating, the United States gave Pakistan $3 billion in U.S. aid. Ahmad was allowed to quietly resign.

Bob Graham, D-Fla., who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, would later tell PBS's Gwen Ifill: "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing -- although that was part of it -- by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down, make the further case, or find the evidence that would indicate that that is not true."

Skip forward to Feb. 15, 2006. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer gave a 48-page statement to the House Armed Services Committee, in which he stated, unequivocally, that his Defense Intelligence operation, Able Danger, identified Mohamed Atta as a major terrorist back in year 2000. But Shaffer and his team of "the 'best and brightest' military operators" were prevented from sharing this information with the FBI. According to Shaffer, during a crucial meeting the group's Pentagon supervisors and attorneys from the Special Operations Command in early 2000, the Able Danger team was ordered to cover Atta's mugshot with a yellow sticky note. Military lawyers at the Pentagon claimed it was to protect the rights of "U.S. Persons."

Some progressives are turned off to the Able Danger story, since it was the pet obsession of recently defeated congressman "Crazy" Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the "patriot" who planned a clandestine trip to personally dig through Iraq in order to find the WMD's for Bush's White House. And the Department of Defense inspector general recently issued a report claiming that the Able Danger operation never identified Atta. But author Peter Lance (an Emmy-award winning reporter, formerly with ABC), author of "Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI -- and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him," calls the Pentagon IG report a "whitewash … set out to prove a predetermined thesis: that these decorated military officers had somehow lied and risked their careers by exaggerating Able Danger's findings." Rather, Lance confirms that Shaffer, and his colleague, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, "found links to 9/11 hijackers, Atta, [Khalid] al-Midhar and [Nawaf] al-Hazmi as connections between al Qaeda and the New York-based cell of [the blind Sheikh] Omar Abdel Rahman."

When the critics focus on the wacky theories and not on careful, moderate, serious authors like Lance, it's a strategy to frame the debate. It steers the argument from going after the real meat of 9/11: the history of U.S. foreign policy in strategic alliances with radical Islam.

Specifically, there are a set of troubling connections between the 9/11 terrorists and the U.S. State Department, the Pakistani ISI (old friends of the CIA from working together creating Afghani Mujahadeen during the Russian occupation), the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, the Pentagon, Maxwell Air Force Base and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Why did the 9/11 terrorists get protected from Able Danger at that Pentagon meeting? Who covered up Atta with a yellow sticky note? What are we supposed to think about the news (reported by Knight Ridder news service 9/15/01) that Atta had attended International Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama?

Atta was the Oswald of the whole operation. He is an enigma; everywhere you turn in his story, the details are wildly contradictory. Instead of a devout Muslim, you have a party-hearty Florida playboy, according to author Daniel Hopsicker, author of "Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 Cover-Up in Florida." The FBI has sworn for five years Atta didn't arrive in Florida until June 2000. But in 2000, Hopsicker found and videotaped Amanda Keller, Atta's American girlfriend, and many other Florida locals who contradict that story. In fact, Atta lived with Keller at the Sandpiper apartments, just outside the Venice, Fla., airport, in March 2000. Thanks to the magic of web video, anyone can see Hopsicker's footage of Keller's reminiscences of Atta: in Florida, they hung out with cocaine-addled strippers doing lines in three-night-long parties. With them were certain white Germans, including one "Wolfgang Bohringer" whom Atta called "brother."

Why "brother?" During Atta's university years in Cairo, the engineering guild that he joined had made him a member of the group Muslim Brotherhood. 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also a card-carrying "brother." The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since the 1920's, it was originally an anti-colonial group. Today, it's the most powerful terrorist force you've never heard of. Their frontmen in Egypt are nonviolent and run for office. But the real sordid history of the Muslim Brotherhood is that, since 1928, its anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist ideologies have turned it into the perfect partner in crime for Nazis, European fascists, American far-rightists and their contemporary counterparts, the neoconservatives.

Hopsicker's original research on Wolfgang Bohringer inspired the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to issue a FBI Terror Alert on Nov. 16, 2006. According to sources close to the investigation, Bohringer was apprehended in the South Pacific on Nov. 17, but shocked the arresting agents when he claimed, "You can't arrest me, I'm working for the CIA." A former JTTF undercover operative, Randy Glass, confirmed that Bohringer was arrested and released.

Oct. 9, 2006, saw the release of leading D.C. muckrakers Susan and Joe Trento's latest mind-blowing work on "national security." "Unsafe at Any Altitude: Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security Today" made 60 Minutes. The book savages the incompetence and "eye candy" of the Transportation Security Administration. This is not a book you want to read on a long flight: It turns out the "no fly" lists are pathetically inaccurate. The Trentos report that the CIA regularly lets known terrorists fly as a tactic to try to catch more of them.

Some of the Trentos' findings were too hot for 60 Minutes. The book's blockbuster revelation is that the Pentagon kamikaze Flight 77 terrorist crew was led by two agents of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) of Saudi Arabia: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Sound familiar? They should. They are the same two guys Peter Lance found being protected from Able Danger by top brass at the Pentagon. This same duo lived in San Diego with an FBI informant. The same duo took money from the wife of Bush friend Saudi Prince Bandar.

The U.S. State Department's dirtiest secret is its 30-year habit of working with the far-right radical Islamists. In 1977, President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (aka the "Democrats' Kissinger") started the Nationalities Working Group. According to his neocon minion, Richard Pipes, the group was tasked with using Islamic rage in the central Asian republics to stir up "genocidal fury" against the Soviet Union. (Pipes' son, Daniel, is a well-known neocon who headed the U.S. Institute for Peace under Bush II.) Brzezinski later admitted in an interview to Nouvel Observateur that he advised Carter to initiate funding for the Mujahedeen so that the Soviet Union would have to enter the region, engage in a Vietnam-like debacle and destroy their economy.

In fact, according to a Special Report in The Economist, the whole notion of "jihad" died out in Islam in the 10th century until "it was revived, with American encouragement, to fire an international pan-Islamic movement after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979."

Throughout the '80s, the Reaganites were superficially opposed to the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. But in reality, the Islamic fundamentalists were happy customers for U.S. arms sales. Care of the Reagan/Bush team, a triangular trade kept a clandestine flow of weapons, money and narcotics moving in and out of Central America, all to benefit the right-wing Contra militia. Meanwhile, the capital was flowing into the Mujahedeen through Pakistan. Oh, yeah, we were selling weapons to Iraq, too, so they could fight the Iranians.

The financial engine that helped run these operations was a well-oiled and bloody front bank called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. BCCI was the funding vehicle that American and Pakistani intelligence used to arm the Afghani Mujahedeen against the Soviets. In the Pakistan/Afghanistan theatre, it moved guns and bombs in, and shipped heroin out. In Central America, it moved in guns and advisors, and took the payoff in cocaine.

When BCCI got busted in 1991, $10 million in State Department accounts was discovered. The CIA and the Pakistani ISI, learning to love each other in their first of many sick trysts, built BCCI into an international network still very much alive. Sen. John Kerry's investigation into BCCI started out strong, but eventually caved to political pressure. Under pressure from Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Kerry fired his top investigator, Jack Blum. No major players were ever apprehended, censured, prosecuted or sentenced for the genocidal, narcotics-trafficking, lucrative top crimes of our time. Instead, many of them returned to power in 2001.

According to S.C. Gwynne and Jonathan Beaty, authors of "The Outlaw Bank," BCCI was "a vast, stateless, multinational corporation" that deployed "its own intelligence agency, complete with a paramilitary wing and enforcement units, known collectively as the Black Network." BCCI wasn't just a fluke; it wasn't just the biggest corporate scandal of all time. It was the perfect example of what big money does today in an unregulated global market.

When George W. Bush, and his gang of bloodstained Iran/Contra suspects seized the White House, they ushered in a new era of intimacy between the federal government and international mega-capital. After all, "Dubya" Bush had wasted a good chunk of his life in a cocaine and whiskey stupor, but the other half was spent in bad business deals with people like Saudi heavyweight Khalid bin Mahfouz. Mahfouz, alongside Salem bin Laden (Osama's half-brother), was a 1977 investor in Arbusto Energy, Bush's first oil company. Mahfouz later became the majority shareholder of BCCI. Mahfouz helped broker the deal for Bush when he wanted to unload his Harken energy stock. This same Khalid bin Mahfouz was branded by a report to the UN Security Council as one of the seven top Saudi al Qaeda money men. Shortly after the Bush/Harken deal, Mahfouz donated a quarter of a million dollars to Osama bin Laden's Mujahadeen in the late 1980s. According to Forbes, he put $30 million into the Muwaffaq Foundation, which the Treasury Department labeled an al Qaeda front. (Mahfouz is also legendary for suing anyone who says so, and has terrified and constrained independent publishers in Canada and the UK.) Is it any wonder then, that the heavily compromised, Bush-White House connected 9/11 Commission took a dive to the mat on the "financing of 9/11" question? They said the money behind 9/11 was "of little practical significance" when behind the curtain stood an old friend of Bush, controlling a bogeyman named "al Qaeda." Senator Bob Graham said he was "stunned that we have not done a better job of pursuing" the question of foreign financing, and that crucial information had been "overly classified."

Money talks. It helps explain why 14 other countries tried but could not effectively warn the U.S.A. about the impending 9/11 attacks. The money connections, the real history of 9/11, explains why the top bin Laden financial tracker at the FBI's Chicago office, Robert Wright, was so upset after the attacks. Through tears of anger and frustration, he told a National Press Club audience, "The FBI … allowed 9/11 to happen." What? What did he say? "FBI management intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and obstructed my investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist financing."

Why was Wright thwarted by his higher-ups? And what about FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' claim that, among the agency's Farsi translators, "it was common knowledge that a longtime, highly regarded FBI 'asset'" told the agency in early 2001 that "bin Laden was planning a major attack involving the use of planes," but after agents wrote up reports and sent them to their superiors "it was the last the agents heard of the matter"? Why were FBI agent Colleen Rowley's reports about Zacarias Moussaoui receiving flight training in Minnesota apparently ignored by Washington, causing her to charge that key facts, were "omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized" by FBI bosses?

There are important questions that remain to be answered. The establishment isn't asking them. Instead, the citizen journalists out there are breaking this story.

Remember how much political reaction there has been ever since the people rose up, united across borders and shut down the war machine in Vietnam. For six years, the neocons have ruled by fear. We, the resistance, must drive them out with a little something stronger: peace, truth, revolution. We know history. We have a mission. Taste the clash of history, and you'll know which side you're on.

Most recently, George Monbiot, certainly one of the international bulwarks of progressive action, chimed in with some harsh words. "There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots." Monbiot directs most of his slam dunk at the film "Loose Change."

John Doraemi, on his blog Crimes of the State, replied to Monbiot with a lengthy list of excellent points, entitled "No George Monbiot, These Are The Facts of September 11th 2001." The article is long, but I post a few of his many well-researched issues:

"4. NORAD has told three different and conflicting stories explaining why no jet fighters intercepted any of the four hijacked airliners.

"5. Vice President Richard Cheney was placed in charge of anti-terrorism training and military preparedness exercises by Bush on May 8, 2001. This gave him command authority during the 9/11 attacks because as many as nine war game exercises involving military and intelligence agencies were occurring simultaneously.

"6. The military's "Air Piracy" regulations were rewritten on June 1st 2001 to require the "Secretary of Defense" to give "approval" for military escort aircraft in the event of a hijacking. Donald Rumsfeld gave no "approval" that day.

"9. "President Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle Tuesday to limit the congressional investigation into the events of September 11..." ..."Tuesday's discussion followed a rare call to Daschle from Vice President Dick Cheney last Friday to make the same request."

"10. The Project For a New American Century, which wrote of the need for a "catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor," had members throughout the top of the government on 9/11 including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Bolton, Armitage, Abrams, Wurmser, as well as Bush's brother, the governor of Florida, Jeb.

"11. Four days before 9/11, Jeb Bush activated the Florida National Guard, "Based on the potential massive damage to life and property that may result from an act of terrorism at a Florida port." (Executive Order 01-261).

"12. On 9/11 Jeb Bush declared a "State of Emergency" in Florida (E.O. 01-262). "I hereby delegate to the Department of Law Enforcement the operational authority to coordinate and direct the law enforcement resources and other resources of any and all state, regional and local governmental agencies..." And by 2am on 9/12/01, Jeb Bush was reported to have confiscated the police records in Venice, FL related to the Huffman Aviation flight school. Two rental trucks full of these records drove onto a C-130 military aircraft at Sarasota Airport and flew out with Jeb Bush aboard.

"13. Huffman Aviation flight school, where Mohamed Atta and other alleged hijackers trained, had a Lear jet seized by the DEA with "43 pounds of heroin" onboard. No one was ever prosecuted in connection with the "biggest drug seizure in central Florida history."

"21. On August 6, 2001 a CIA briefer went to Bush's Crawford ranch to read the president a briefing called, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (2 redacted pages out of 11 reported). After the briefing, Bush told the CIA man, "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Bush then went fishing.

"22. Minneapolis FBI Agent and Legal Advisor Colleen Rowley (21 year veteran) said that the FBI Headquarters Special Supervisory Agent, "seemed to have been consistently, almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents' efforts ...continued to, almost inexplicably, throw up roadblocks and undermine Minneapolis' by-now desperate efforts to obtain a FISA search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear. ...Even after the attacks had begun, the SSA in question was still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the World Trade Center attacks as a mere coincidence. ...HQ personnel never disclosed to the Minneapolis agents that the Phoenix Division had, only approximately three weeks earlier, warned of Al Qaeda operatives in flight schools seeking flight training for terrorist purposes!"

There's a lot more. I encourage you to go and read for yourself. The interesting thing about Doraemi, who by-the-way, seems to be something of a nihilist (and a ferocious anti-Zionist), is that he doesn't cut the 9/11 truth movement much slack either:

"It's pretty damned near impossible to get to the bottom of the September 11th lies we have been told by the United States federal government. This is not an easy task, and conflicting stories abound.Given that, there remain some serious deficiencies within the self-proclaimed "9/11 Truth Movement," as I will explain.

"The "truthers" have a general guiding priniciple, that they are only seeking answers to questions. In practice, however, this is not usually the case. In practice, they subscribe to various dogmas handed down from a handful of leaders, people like David Ray Griffin, Kevin Barrett, James Fetzer, Steven Jones, Alex Jones, Webster Tarpley and others. Over time, the opinions of the leaders become accepted as "the truth" and beyond question. It's the beyond question that I will not accept, ever, and this has landed me in the middle of quite a few nasty battles.

"Since 2002, I have sent in corrections to print and media news organzations over their shameful coverage of September 11th issues. I also send corrections to the 9/11media which has sprung up. It's pretty hard to maintain credibility as a "truth" movement if you are spreading demonstrably false claims.
"Nevertheless, 9/11 website editors are about as intractable and infallible as their corporate counterparts."

So, the question that must be asked is this: what harm is there in asking questions? But I will say this one thing: who benefits the most from conflict among the questioners, among the panoply of liberal-left-progressive opposition to the architects of New Rome? That is a more difficult question, only because the answer is so obvious.

They don't even try to be subtle anymore

Not that they ever really did.

Bush Expected to Name Industry Lobbyist to Head Consumer Safety Agency

Many Senators, Representatives With Oversight Responsibility Claim to Neither Know Nor Care

by Joseph S. Enoch
ConsumerAffairs.Com Congressional Correspondent

February 16, 2007

Insiders say that Michael Baroody, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a powerful trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation, is President Bush's choice to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC is currently powerless to enact new rules or levy fines because it has had only two commissioners since Chairman Hal Stratton, another Bush appointee, abruptly resigned six months ago to become a lobbyist.

Bush is expected to make his appointment during the long President's Day weekend, while Congress is out of town.

The White House refuses to comment. Spokesmen there have not returned seven phone calls from ConsumerAffairs.Com over the last week and Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have had no official word on whether an appointment is pending.

Read more here.

A gathering of Kool Aid drinkers

Much like the myths about returning Vietnam vets being spat upon, the right have promulgated similar stories about returning Iraq war veterans. And groups like a Gathering of Eagles and Move America Forward, convinced that the March 17 anti-war protest in DC plan to deface the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, are planning a counter demonstration and "protective" barrier at the memorial.

We could discuss the delusions of these folks for pages. Here's just one example, posted at the "Gathering of Eagles" web site:

once_a_marine_alwys February 16th, 2007 7:09 am

Thank God that he has used our military to protect his children. These lukewarm, wet-noodle liberal that call themselves peacemakers have a special place reserved for them. Wake the heck up these evil people that our troops are fighting in the middle-east are now running one of our countries parties,and have infiltrated the right as well. They will sling toothless words of nonsense in worthless resolutions only to ignore the very constitution they swore to protect against ALL enemies Foreign and domestic. Don’t allow these people destroy what took 231 years to build.

Me, I would love to know who is really funding them.

These groups conveniently ignore the prominent veteran presence in the anti-war movement, instead painting the peace groups as America-hating cowards who haven't "earned" the right to have their say.

These groups swallow the empty, superficial rhetoric of the most militarist, anti-freedom presidential administration in history. They proclaim that "surrender is not an option" and "we win in Iraq or we fight the terrorists in America."

Burbling under the surface of these groups is a virulent anti-Islamism, and, to my eyes, a simmering dash of Christian fundamentalist white supremacy as well.

From Wikipedia on Move America Forward:

"Move America Forward is a controversial, conservative non profit political action group based in the U.S. state of California. Through media-saturation campaigns that include television and radio commercials; [1] lobbying politicians at the local, state, and federal levels; and by encouraging grass-roots activism, Move America Forward has sought to advance a conservative agenda that includes the removal of the United Nations headquarters from the United States, the recalling of state governors it deems too "liberal," restricting what it terms "liberal" or "activist" media, the closing of the U.S.-Mexico border and the deportation of illegal aliens back to their country of origin, opposition of what it deems "liberal" political candidates and political action groups, and advocacy for conservative political candidates and appointees. Move America Forward vocally supports and advocates the policies of the Bush Administration. [2]

"Though Move American Forward describes itself as "...a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization committed to supporting America’s efforts to defeat terrorism and supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces" [7], its actions have been almost wholly partisan and hence restricted to the political arena.

"In 2004, what really published an online exposé revealing the ties of Move America Forward to the GOP PR firm Russo Marsh & Rogers. Using a domain name look-up service, showed that Russo Marsh & Rogers established the Move America Forward website. Siobhan Guiney, Executive Director of Move America Forward, admitted that Russo Marsh & Rogers did register the site for them and that the two groups shared a building and a phone receptionist [8]. Not long after the exposé Move America Forward purged all references to Russo Marsh & Rogers from its domain registration, going to so far as to list a Sacramento bar as its registrant phone number at one point. [9]

"When asked about the seeming disparity between Move America Forward's mission of supporting the troops in America's war on terror and its history of advocating for the conservative policies and agenda set forth by the Bush Administration, Siobhan Guiney, Executive Director of MAF, stated: "He's our Commander in Chief. It's his policies in place [and we] have to support those policies." [10]

"Additional controversy erupted in August 2005 centered around Move America Forward's "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!" campaign countering the protest of Cindy Sheehan. Observers and the press have noted that some pro-Bush activists in the MAF entourage were aggressively confrontational and verbally abusive, calling the anti-war protesters "communists", saying they are "aiding and abetting the enemy".[11]

"In April 2006 controversy erupted again when Kaloogian's campaign website posted a picture on his website that he claimed depicted a peaceful Baghdad neighborhood, and the claims that the Iraq conflict was going well. Quickly, however, internet watchdogs correctly identified the picture as coming from Istanbul, Turkey, and the picture was removed. Kaloogian later said using the photo was "a stupid mistake".[12]"


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

From out of the mouth of boobs

I don't watch or listen to the presidunce's press conferences. I find it much healthier to merely skim the transcript on line after the fact. My blood pressure remains more stable, and I am less likely to throw something violently at the wall.

Now, after 6 years of the American idiot, the idiot-in-chief, the all-hat-no-cattle cowboy, you'd think I can't be surprised by what comes out from between those smirking lips anymore. Me, too. But never underestimate the power of the decider to throw me a curve when I least expect it. And so, here it be. From this parody of a president, who lies with the abandon of the negligent, clueless, Mama's boy that he is. And the sad irony is that these are probably the truest words the damn fool has ever uttered.

The context: Bush is asked about sanction on Iran, with whom many of allies happily do business. Are you ready? The reply (an excerpt):

"Money trumps peace ... sometimes."

Yeah. It sure does, George. It's the sum total of your foreign policy.

Trump piece?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Karl Rove: fat, white, and ogreish

I love when I can post something from that bastion of conservative thought, the National Review. Why? Because it makes it evident just how odious is the Bush-Cheny-Rove junta to so much of the old school right. This one is in reference to our porcine friend Karl Rove:

Not Our Kind of People

Mark Krikorian

According to a congressman's wife who attended a Republican women's luncheon yesterday, Karl Rove explained the rationale behind the president's amnesty/open-borders proposal this way: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

There should be no need to explain why this is an obscene statement coming from a leader in the party that promotes the virtues of hard work, thrift, and sobriety, a party whose demi-god actually split fence rails as a young man, a party where "respectable Republican cloth coat" once actually meant something. But it does seem to be necessary to explain.

Rove's comment illustrates how the Bush-McCain-Giuliani-Hagel-Martinez-Brownback-Huckabee approach to immigration strikes at the very heart of self-government. It is precisely Rove's son (and my own, and those of the rest of us in the educated elite) who should work picking tomatoes or making beds, or washing restaurant dishes, or mowing lawns, especially when they're young, to help them develop some of the personal and civic virtues needed for self-government. It's not that I want my kids to make careers of picking tomatoes; Mexican farmworkers don't want that either. But we must inculcate in our children, especially those likely to go on to high-paying occupations, that there is no such thing as work that is beneath them.

As Tocqueville wrote: "In the United States professions are more or less laborious, more or less profitable; but they are never either high or low: every honest calling is honorable." The farther we move from that notion, the closer we come to the idea that the lawyer is somehow better than the parking-lot attendant, undercutting the very foundation of republican government.

This is why the president's "willing worker/willing employer" immigration extravaganza is morally wrong — it's not just that it will cost taxpayers untold billions, or that it will beggar our own blue-collar workers, or that it will compromise security, or that it will further dissolve our sovereignty. It would do all that, of course, but most importantly it would change the very nature of our society for the worse, creating whole occupations deemed to be unfit for respectable Americans, for which little brown people have to be imported from abroad. In other words, mass immigration, even now, is moving us toward an unequal, master-servant society.

To borrow from Lincoln, our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. When it comes to this, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Saudi Arabia, for instance.

People like us

They are not Arabs. They do not speak Arabic except, perhaps, as a second language, learned as we would learn Spanish or French. Neither are they monsters. But the monsters who have taken our nation down a road towards oblivion, want you to think so. Here is a short film that asks you but gently, quietly, to think about who, in fact, are your enemies.

Global what?

Record snows in upstate New York, record low temperatures in January on the West Coast. I haven't looked, but I am sure the right wing blowhards are already writing their "pooh-poohs" about global climate change. In their stratified (or is that straight-jacketed) minds, there must be a perfect regression line between atmospheric carbon and temperature to prove climate change, something that looks like this:

Of course, it doesn't work that way. There's too much chaos in weather and climate to reliably place much significance on a single year's weather patterns. Tree lines don't move up or down mountains in response to one year's temperatures (yes, they are moving up). Polar ice doesn't break up and melt because of one hot summer at high latitudes (yes, the ice is shrinking). One needs to be looking at the trends over time - the big picture. In fact global climate change proceeds exactly like this (actual plots of average global temperatures):

But leave it to the know nothings on the right such as Jonah Goldberg to come up with fatuous pronouncements like this:

"But in the history of trade-offs, never has there been a better one than trading a tiny amount of global warming for a massive amount of global prosperity. Earth got about 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer in the 20th century while it increased its GDP by 1,800 percent, by one estimate. How much of that 0.7 degrees can be laid at the feet of that 1,800 percent is unknowable, but let's stipulate that all of the warming was the result of our prosperity and that this warming is in fact indisputably bad (which is hardly obvious). That's still an amazing bargain. Life expectancies in the United States increased from about 47 years to about 77 years. Literacy, medicine, leisure and even, in many respects, the environment have improved mightily over the course of the 20th century, at least in the prosperous West.
" Given the option of getting another 1,800 percent richer in exchange for another 0.7 degrees warmer, I'd take the heat in a heartbeat."

Let's see just how fast sea levels rise, Jonah. Maybe you can make a killing on beachfront property speculation. And Lord knows, there should be lots of cash in building homes in Iowa for the hundreds of millions who will be displaced by the inundation of the coastlines. Oh, that is if the breadbasket of the nation hasn't been desertified.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What's this? A fair and balanced newspaper article about Hugo Chavez in the mainstream media?!?

From the Houston Chronicle, "Chavez as Castro? It's not that simple in Venezuela" by Bart Jones:

"The world should remain vigilant to ensure a free press, a free political system and a mixed economy where property rights are respected remain in place in Venezuela. If Chavez infringes on any of these rights, it should be vigorously protested and condemned. But so far it hasn't happened."

Read the whole article here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Oily poliics

From the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights:

Exxon Record Profits Also Shows Company Took Less Profit In Run Up To The Election;

Exxon, Shell and Marathon Oil Slashed Q4 Refining Margins To Temporarily Lower Pump Prices, Group Says

Santa Monica, CA -- Exxon set the record for the largest annual corporate profit of $39.5 billion last year even with a 4% decline in fourth-quarter profit resulting in part from an 18% drop in refining margins, according to the company's profit report today. Shell, the world's second largest oil company, set a company record earning $25.4 billion in 2006 but also announced a 23% decline in refining margins. Pump prices have increased dramatically in recent years following industrywide increases in refining margins.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today's earnings reports show that industry leaders cut domestic refining profits in the run-up to the November election in order to lower gasoline prices, very likely hoping to influence the mid-term election. The nonpartisan group is calling for Congressional investigations to determine whether Exxon and others manipulated the market to affect the election.

Read FTCR's early analysis of how oil companies could have wielded gas prices for political impact.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another reason why they might hate us

Yeah, I support our troops. But not when they act like assholes. You are in the cockpit of an U.S. military Humvee, navigating through the streets of Baghdad. So, like did these guys grow up in Miami?

courtesy of Crooks and Liars

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lives in the Balance

Bill Moyers, the respected TV journalist, analyzes the threats to constitutional government posed by an illegitimate network operating from within the government but using secrecy to set itself up outside of the government/peoples oversight. The sad irony: this documentary is 20 years old. Here you will see the foundation for the massive push towards greater secrecy in government going on today.

This documentary gives a fascinating overview of what has actually happened in the last 50 years regarding the CIA and the Cold War (including Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam and Chile).

And that is why it astounds me to hear Jim Webb, new populist "Blue dog" Democratic senator from Virginia, claim that Ronald Reagan is one of the 2 U.S. presidents that he respects the most. How does he reconcile his concern about runaway corporatism with the undercover government that adventures all over the globe on its behalf and with which Reagan was complicit?

Here's Part 1

Here's Part 2