Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy

It does seem the cooler heads among us are indeed starting to smell the coffee and heat up a bit:

...On a battlefield there is a name for armies that spend all their time and energy planning and conditioning themselves to defend against their opponents' attacks. They're called defeated armies. You defend yourself when and where you must. But you do everything you can to maintain the initiative. And that pretty much always means bringing the attack to the other side.

This isn't just a good way to win political fights. It's also a window into the meta-message that often makes Republican attack politics so damaging for Democrats. If you think back to the Swift Boat debacle of 2004, the surface issue was John Kerry's honesty and bravery as a sailor in Vietnam. Far more powerful, however, was the meta-message: George Bush slaps John Kerry around and Kerry either can't or won't hit back. For voters concerned with security and the toughness of their leaders, that's a devastating message -- and one that has little or nothing to do with the truth of the surface charges. Someone who can't fight for himself certainly can't fight for you. At the time I called it the "Republicans' bitch-slap theory of electoral politics."

With respect to what's coming on Iran, what is in order is a little honesty, just as was the case with the Social Security debate a year ago. The only crisis with Iran is the crisis with the president's public approval ratings. Period. End of story. The Iranians are years, probably as long as a decade away, and possibly even longer from creating even a limited yield nuclear weapon. Ergo, the only reason to ramp up a confrontation now is to help the president's poll numbers.

This is a powerful message because it is an accurate message. We have many challenges overseas today. Chief among them, as one of the Democrats' senate candidates puts it, is "refocusing America's foreign and defense policies in a way that truly protects our national interests and seeks harmony where they are not threatened." The period of peril the country is entering into isn't tied to an Iranian bomb. It turns on how far a desperate president will go to avoid losing control of Congress.

Go to his heart. Go to his weaknesses. Though the realization of the fact is something of a lagging indicator, the man is a laughing stock, whose lies and failures are all catching up with him.

To the president the Democrats should be saying, Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy.

Of course, some of us have been cookin' all along.

Complete text and transcript of Colbert speaking truthiness to power here.

You've got to admire a man who can work without a laugh track with killer humor.

And finally, via Atrios, Glenn Greenwald finds its offical: we live in a dictatorship with a Dear Leader above the law.

Double or nothing, indeed.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

DARPA's New Warfighter

Crusher robots are here, in the same space-time reality you and I inhabit... a first draft in the new craft.

By the time you read this, Carnegie Mellon roboticists and Darpa chieftains will be rolling out their latest mechanical warrior: a six-and-half-ton, six-wheeled unmanned behemoth called Crusher.

Back in October, I took a look at the bot as it was being built, in a restored brick-and-chestnut mill on the banks of Pittsburgh's Allegheny River. Even as an aluminum-titanium skeleton, the machine left an impression -- something that looked ready to chew up all kinds of terrain. The clever, almost leg-like way the wheels attached would allow Crusher (like its predecessor, Carnegie's Spinner robot) to climb steps bigger than four feet, and tackle slopes with a 40 degree grade. In-hub electric motors, powered by a VW Jetta's turbo diesel engine, wouldn't hurt, either.

Carnegie and Darpa will be talking up Crusher's off-road toughness today. And they'll crow about the robot's brains and eyes -- the machine is part of a $35 million, Darpa-backed effort to make robots more autonomous. A few weeks before I visited Pittsburgh, Spinner used eight laser range-finders and four pairs of stereo cameras to help travel 26 miles of tough terrain, completely on its own. Crusher's 18-foot, telescoping mast, packed with sensors, should only make this both more perceptive.

But what today's presenters probably won't talk about much is that Crusher is designed to be mean, too. It's an "unmanned ground combat vehicle," a prototype for the military's next generation of armed robots. Crusher has been equipped with a Rafael Mini-Typhoon gun mount, which holds a "simulated" .50 caliber rifle.

"We’re developing Crusher," Carnegie's John Bares said in a statement, "to show people what can be done and pave the way for the future."

And in that future, the robots can go anywhere, think for themselves, and carry guns.

How much easier to take and hold the oil, if the tanks and warfighters used to do the killing and taking didn't have human scruples, or compassion, or deal with post-traumatic stress when they firebombed whole cities out of existence.


Color me octarine.

Paradigm shift is where you want it.

Don't waste your money on the official patriotic heartrending soulstirring commercial version of United 93...

Go see the version Chancellor Rumsfeld doesn't want you to see, for free, here.

It's a couple hours well spent.

Living With War

Here or there.

The Restless Consumer

The people have heard the news
The people have spoken
You may not like what they said
But they weren't jokin'

Way out on the desert sands
Lies a desperate lover
They call her the "Queen of Oil"
So much to discover

Don't need no ad machine
Telling me what I need
Don't need no Madison Avenue War
Don't need no more boxes I can see

Covered in flags but I can't see them on TV

Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies


The restless consumer flies
Around the world each day
With such an appetite for taste and grace


People from around the world
Need someone to listen
We're starving and dying from our disease
We need your medicine
How do you pay for war
And leave us dyin' ?
When you could do so much more
You're not even tryin'


Don't need no TV ad
Tellin' me how sick I am
Don't want to know how many people are like me
Don't need no dizziness
Don't need no nausea
Don't need no side effects like diarrhea or sexual death

Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies

The restless consumer lies
Asleep in her hotel
With such an appetite
For anything that sells


A hundred voices from a hundred lands
Need someone to listen
People are dying here and there
They don't see the world the way you do
There's no mission accomplished here
Just death to thousands

A hundred voices from a hundred lands
Cry out in unison

Don't need no terror squad
Don't want no damned Jihad
Blowin' themselves away in my hood
But we don't talk to them
So we don't learn from them
Hate don't negotiate with Good

Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies
Don't need no more lies

The restless consumer flies
Around the world each day
With such an appetite for efficiency
And pace ......

Don't need no more lies

Give the man his due.

Planning Your October Surprise in a $election Year

Via Tinfoil Hat Boy and Thistime, an interesting story:

"State police said the men drove up to the Beaver Valley Power Station in a tractor-trailer on Tuesday night to pick up two large containers of tools for a contractor for whom they worked.

Security guards stopped the men for a routine inspection, but they drove away, police said.

The guards became suspicious and called police, who pulled the truck over about a mile from the plant.

A state trooper got a warrant to search the vehicle and found a duffel bag, which he said contained $504,230 in mostly small bills."

And more interesting things from Bechtel:

...The cash was found during a routine search by security guards of the tractor trailer as it entered the plant. The truckers, who worked for a company hired by San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., left the plant immediately after the discovery, without picking up their cargo of tools. The security guards, who are not empowered with authority to arrest, then notified local sheriff. The sheriff in turn stopped the truck and after drug dogs reacted to a smell within, searched the tractor. Arguably, that amount of cash would always smell like drugs to a dog, but the drivers didn't object to the confiscation of the money.

The drivers weren't arrested because entering a nuclear power plant with a half a million dollars isn't a crime. The Department of "Homeland Security" wasn't interested either. So the drivers went about their business, with the official explanation incident as "drug related."

There has been a continuing thread at DU about all this which I rediscovered today.

But the name of the owner of the trailer has now been published

It seems that the registered owner of the trailer is also a military man.

"Security guards, who were searching the rig and flatbed the two men were driving into the plant, found a duffel bag containing $504,230, which state police later said they believe is related to drug trafficking.

According to Texas driving records, the rig and flatbed trailer were registered to Glenn E. Marsh, 37, also of Houston. No one answered the phone at Marsh's home Saturday, and Kingsby and Lewis could not be reached Saturday...

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday it considered the matter closed on its end and was satisfied that security guards had done their job properly and that there was no security breach at the plant.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Homeland Security said the agency had been notified of the incident, which was not being viewed as a security threat. The department said it would not be involved in the investigation."

Lt. Glenn E. Marsh, who was stationed in Bosnia, now lives near Ft. Hood (I can't link this without revealing personal information, but if you're interested Google his name). The pdf link that verified his position in Bosnia stopped working as I was preparing this diary, which was strange, but the Google cache still has it.

There has been recent suspicious damage recently at a nuclear facility in the US.

"FBI probes nuclear reactor hole

The FBI says it "has a few leads"
A Florida energy company has called in the FBI and offered a $100,000 reward to try and find out who drilled a hole in one of its nuclear power stations...

It had been drilled - inadvertently or deliberately - into a cooling system pipe for one of its nuclear reactors...

It is now investigating the damage, along with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

A Florida Power spokeswoman said that the company thought the hole was produced intentionally, but didn't know if it was a case of human error or a deliberate act of sabotage.

The reactor had been shut down for routine maintenance, but many of the contractors hired to work on the plant have since left the site and might not know about the problem..."

It is just so strange that there is no federal interest in why a former(?)military man, who lives near Ft. Hood, and who happens to own a truck which attempted to enter a nuclear plant with half a million dollars cash. And that the reported owner of the cash hasn't bothered to pick it up. It's darn close to impossible to believe that this is worthy of immediate dismissal.

Obviously the Oregon sheriff is not completely with the program.

Won't you feel better when the telecoms own the web and the internet becomes the internets and you won't have the opportunity to read about such? You'll be able to keep your beautiful mind, and Bechtel will be able to conduct Company work without bother.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sex, Drugs, and the War on Terra

Hot off the presses, baby, thanks to Ken Silverstein:

The Wall Street Journal reported today that indicted former California Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham may not have limited his good times to partying on a rented yacht. It turns out the FBI is currently investigating two defense contractors who allegedly provided Cunningham with free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes.

The two defense contractors who allegedly paid most of the bills, said the Journal, were Brent Wilkes, the founder of ADCS Inc., and Mitchell Wade, the founder of MZM Inc.; both firms profited greatly from their connections with Cunningham. The Journal also suggested that other lawmakers might be implicated. I've learned from a well-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees—including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. I've also been able to learn the name of the limousine service that was used to ferry the guests and other attendees to the parties: Shirlington Limousine and Transportation of Arlington, Virginia. Wilkes, I've learned, even hired Shirlington as his personal limousine service.

It gets even more interesting: the man who has been identified as the CEO of Shirlington has a 62-page rap sheet (I recently obtained a copy) that runs from at least 1979 through 1989 and lists charges of petit larceny, robbery, receiving stolen goods, assault, and more. Curiously—or perhaps not so curiously given the company's connections—Shirlington Limousine is also a Department of Homeland Security contractor; according to the Washington Post, last fall it won a $21.2 million contract for shuttle services and transportation support. (I tried to contact Shirlington but was unable to get past their answering service.)

As to the festivities themselves, I hear that party nights began early with poker games and degenerated into what the source described as a "frat party" scene—real bacchanals. Apparently photographs were taken, and investigators are anxiously procuring copies. My heart beats faster in fevered anticipation.

Via Justin Rood:


Actually, make that a double-yowzah: Remember that Goss is the one who plucked one of Wilkes' old San Diego friends, the unusual and colorful Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, out of CIA middle-management obscurity to be his #3 at the agency. At the time of Foggo's appointment, no one could figure out where he came from, or how Goss knew him.

But if Goss was at the "parties," I wonder, was Foggo there too? Did they see each other? Is this where Goss had an opportunity to gauge Foggo's abilities, and determine he was qualified for the CIA executive director post?

Even better, they all worked out of the Watergate hotel. Via Billmon:

...Porter Goss, director of the CIA, may be implicated in a hooker service for corrupt (and horny) congressmen paid for by defense contractors and run out of -- you really gotta love this part -- the Watergate Hotel.

So what are we supposed to call this new scandal? Watergategate?

It sounds like a game of can-you-top-this played by a couple of spy novelists (say, Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum) after a night of snorting cocaine and downing tequila shooters. Or maybe a screenplay cooked up by Fellini and Costa-Gavras -- with some help from Spike Jones and Salvador Dali...

...OK, I know I'm getting carried away here. But this is really creepy stuff -- and only contributes to the impression I sometimes have that we're now living in the only banana republic armed with nuclear weapons. (Or, as I've also been known to call it, North Argentina.)

I mean, we've got political purges underway in the organs of state security; a one-party legislature run by guys who write their names above the urinals at expensive K Street restaurants ("For a good time, call Duke") and -- according to Harper's -- limo services tied to call girl rings pulling down multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Homeland Security, which itself sounds like a name dreamed up for the movie Brazil.

Forget Fellini, even Terry Gilliam couldn't do this justice.

Via Correntwire, a little Ice on the cake- or black tar-walk:

You see there was this little article about a plane crashing in Afghanistan the other day. Did you see it or did it slip below the radar? A State Department leased plane crashed into some mud huts after a truck drove across the runway when the plane was landing. Here's the story.

It doesn't sound like much except that the vehicle was a Russian cargo plane and the fatalities could have been worse if the men had been in the huts and not out working the opium fields. Now why would the State Department have to rent a plane from the Russians? Is the United States so strapped it can't spare a plane to fight the war on drugs or is the Russian plane a cover. If it is a cover then what is it a cover for? As for the opium workers living at the end of the runway all I can say is how convenient that must be for all concerned.

The report states that the two Ukrainians were killed, other coverage of this story claims they were the pilots. Eleven people on board the plane were Americans leaving three of unknown nationality. Supposedly the people on the plane are "anti"drug agents but the story doesn't pass the smell test and brings to mind the Eugene Hasenfus affair that exposed Iran-Contra.

Military helicopters were brought in to transport the injured but Reuters reports that the British Secretary of Defense John Reid was delayed when one of his planes was sent to help out in the emergency. My guess is that they had to quickly take care of the "cargo". I knew there was some reason Ollie North was hanging around Afghanistan posing as a Fox News correspondent, what a great cover. Robert Parry reported on it back in the eighties and it's the same gang of criminals in positions of power today. I would love to see this story grow some legs and kick the shit out of the Bush crime family. No pardons this time around boys it's lockdown time.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Chancellor Rumsfeld: All Your Children Are Ours

Got kids? So does the Company.

NEW YORK - The Defense Department is violating the privacy of millions of high school students nationwide with a detailed database it uses for military recruitment, a federal lawsuit filed Monday claims.

The New York Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of six high schoolers, saying the department is ignoring privacy rules set by Congress regarding the collection and distribution of students' personal information.

Military officials have said they have about 30 million names in the database. The
Pentagon said last year the list includes high school students ages 16-18 and college students, and includes such information as the students'
Social Security numbers, gender and race...

The department is flouting a 1982 military recruitment law that specifies that it refrain from collecting information on students under 17, that it store the information for no more than three years and that the information be kept private, the lawsuit said.

The current database includes information on 16-year-olds, is storing the information for five years and is being shared with law enforcement and other agencies, the lawsuit said...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Open Internet, It Was Nice Knowing You

The problem is, in the eyes of the Company, be they DINOcrat or Rethuglican, an open web is the most revolutionary threat they've ever faced.

Today, the open web got canned in Congress, and people are saying that's okay, because the momentum is in our favor.

Pardon me while the mind boggles a bit at that statement.

It's not just the progressive blogsphere that's against this. The web saavy wingnuts hate it too. From Eschaton to Little Green Footballs [no, I'm not gonna link to those clowns], people are pissed about fencing in the internet.

We're taking about thousands, maybe even millions of people mobilizing against the telecorps' lobbyists... and still losing this in the House.

This kind of thing isn't a new phenomenon. Check out this video clip from Saturday Night Live in 1991. It got edited out in the re-runs, no surprise.

The emergent and convergent Company is not going to give up on this, even if some Congress members get turned in this $election year. A free press, an internet where anyone can examine anyone else's electronically published ideas, is something Bu$hCo does not like. ChancellorSecretary Rumsfeld has declared information war on newsrooms around the world, and when you're reading this blog among others you're reading the information he doesn't want you to know about. The DINOcrats don't like it either: how can the Joementum or the Senator from Citibank get rolling if every progressive blogger is busy trying to steal his hubcaps and flatten his tires?

This is yet another issue we're going to lose if we don't regain control of the electoral process. Brothers and sisters, keeping morale up isn't bad, but let's can the momentum silliness this year. The Company has a roll on lately, too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Uninformed Flying Oblivious

The brainless lead the blind again...

...Plasma aerodynamics offers tantalizing promises of improving aircraft performance. By producing a thin layer of charged particles around an aircraft you can change the behavior of the boundary layer, significantly reducing friction. The charged layer also absorbs radar, improving stealth.

When my colleague Justin Mullins wrote about the subject for New Scientist magazine back in 2000, it seemed to be an obscure Russian technology dating from the late 70’s which the US was just beginning to examine. But it offered real benefits, with a potential drag reduction of up to 30%.

“A cut in drag of 1 per cent means you can increase an airliner's payload by about 10 per cent, or it could simply fly farther or faster,” Mullins pointed out, “Just imagine the effect this could have on cash-strapped airlines.”

The Russians seemed to be years ahead, even marketing a plasma stealth add-on device said to reduce radar returns by a factor of a hundred.

He concludes by wondering if the technology can actually work in practice.

“Either the new labs are a huge waste of time and money, or the American military knows something we don't.“

As it turns out, they certainly do.

A lot of information on stealth disappeared from the public domain decades ago when the whole subject turned black. Which was why I was surprised to find the original patent for plasma stealth still intact.

Patent 3,127,608 is called "Object Camouflage Method And Apparatus," and "relates to a method of making aircraft or other objects invisible to radar." The inventor, one Arnold L. Eldredge, describes the theoretical basis of plasma stealth accurately.

The most surprising thing is the date. The patent was filed on August 6th, 1956. The technology has been around for fifty years...

...check out Patent 4,030,098 (1962) “Method and means for reducing reflections of electromagnetic waves “ – assigned to the Secretary of the Army and the rather similar Patent 3,713,157 (1964) belonging to North American Aviation, later absorbed by Boeing – “Energy Absorption by a Radioisotope Produced Plasma”

Both of these use the same basic concept: a coating of radioactive material producing a flux of either Alpha of Beta particles ionize the air, producing the desired layer of plasma. It’s a clever solution. Radioactive paint weighs virtually nothing, does not require any power input and can be dirt cheap. One of the suggested emitters is Strontium-90, which is produced in abundance as a waste product by nuclear reactors.

It’s also quite safe. With a thin protective coating to prevent it from flaking off, the soft radiation (unlike dangerous Gamma radiation) is not a hazard to pilot or maintenance personnel. This type of material is only dangerous if inhaled or ingested...

...The radiation levels involved – 10 Curies per square centimeter – would give the plane a visible glow at night, making it a beacon to enemy air defenses.

Good grief. 10 Curies per square centimeter.

I don't know where these cowboys got their debriefing, but that's highly hazardous to be around. But this is the same D.o'D. that uses depleted uranium for munitions, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. But check it out: a microCurie is about 2,200,000 disintegrations per minute.

A millicurie is a nontrivial amount of radiation to work with. I know, I've been working with radionuclides every day for the last 25 years. But enough strontium 90 to glow in the dark to cover an airplane at 10 Curies per square cm... good grief... that's hot...

...So, were there any sightings of mysterious glowing U2s? A CIA report on the CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90 states:

According to later estimates from CIA officials who worked on the U-2 project and the OXCART (SR-71, or Blackbird) project, over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights (namely the U-2) over the United States. (45) This led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project.

Why would anyone report a U2 as a UFO?

The early U-2s were silver (they were later painted black) and reflected the rays from the sun, especially at sunrise and sunset. They often appeared as fiery objects to observers below.

I leave it to those who compile statistics on flying saucers to say how many glowing UFOs were sighted under these conditions and how many appeared to be luminous on their own account. Note also the wording in Patent 3,713,157 which says that the plasma cloud produces a combination of ‘absorbtion, reflection, refraction and diffraction’ across frequencies including visible spectrum, which would certainly alter the appearance of an aircraft, perhaps to the point of making it an unrecognisable blob.

A radioactive coating would be unlikely to be applied to the entire aircraft – as Martin Streetly of Jane’s pointed out to me, this would immediately block the aircraft's own radar, communications and navigation aids. However, a coating on the locations contributing most to radar returns – inlets and wing-body junction – would have a significant effect, and a coating along the leading edge would give the desired reduction in drag. It might even be possible to have coated surfaces which could be covered or uncovered as needed...

Many have commented on a photograph of a B-2 from Edwards AFB (published in Air Forces Monthly in October 2000) in which the wing seems to be enveloped in a faint glowing cloud. This was explained by the Air Force as water vapor, but some commentators have argued that such a cloud would not form simultaneously above and below the wing.

See also the discussion and perhaps anomalous picture here.

The USAF appears to have been using plasma aerodynamics for decades. The Russians certainly know all about it , as does anyone who has bought the technology off them. According to the patents it has additional benefits too – it can muffle the noise produced by engines as well as preventing contrails from forming...

So why keep it secret if the competition's aware of it? Because it's incredibly dangerous to the user. Not the paper pushers in the Pentagon: it's slowly deadly to the pilot and the mechanics and the engineers and the troops working with it to try to protect everyone else.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Meat Market War

What is war other than a way of impressing one group's desires on another?

In that context, read what that cautious pessimist has to say about a nasty habit of the Bu$hCo Company [other than lying, starting needless wars, stealing, and torture for fun and profit]:

There aren't many small countries with greater geostrategic heft than Azerbaijan. Wedged between Russia and Iran, it's a major port of entry to the West for the region's oil and heroin, much of the latter being routed through the distribution hub of Kosovo, secured in the Balkans wars of the last decade.

Another commodity in Azerbaijan's pipeline subject to fantastic mark-up is the flesh of young women. Anar Orujov, in his report "Azerbaijani slaves of the 21st century" for the Caucasus Media Investigations Center, writes that "in our country a prostitute can make a profit from $7,000 up to $100,000 depending on the 'exploitation conditions.' No doubt that such a profitable business paves the way to spend a lot of money to 'hunt' the people, and establishment of a large mafia network which sometimes even the high-ranking officials are involved."

The composition of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce certainly suggests another large mafia network hasn't neglected Baku. The "Honorary Council of Advisors" includes James Baker, Lloyd Bentson, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Dick Cheney (resigned after the Nov 2000 election), Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and John Sununu. Richard Perle is a Trustee, and Richard Armitage was on the Board until his State Department appointment. Turkish and Azerbaijani were Sibel Edmonds' two languages in the FBI's translation department, where she discovered the intersections of drugs, arms and oil.

So it's with some interest I read that the US State Department has today announced the recall of Ambassador Reno Harnish, former Chief of Mission, Pristina (capital of the aforementioned hub of Kosovo) and late of the American Enterprise Institute. Why, is of particular interest.

From UPI:

"The Azerbaijani media is rife with speculation that Harnish is being recalled because of a burgeoning human smuggling scandal which came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"The Moscow newspaper Trud newspaper reported on Thursday that FBI agents began interviews with embassy officials about the smuggling of Azerbaijani prostitutes into the United States and the issuing of visas.

"As the investigation proceeded, Zarifa Dzhabieva, a former translator for the American embassy was found knifed to death in her own home. Whoever killed Dzhabieva ransacked her dwelling looking for something, even though none of the victim's valuables had been touched. Dzhabieva was under investigation for aiding and abetting the issuing of visas and forged documents to girls destined for the U.S. sex trade."

Quite a bipartisan operation, that Honorary Council of Advisors.

Of course, the press gangs don't just recruit party girls, but labor of all sorts, and it's not just DynCorp this time, it's the Cheneyburton outfit as well.

Thanks for the heads up, chicago dyke. And that's not a pun.

Why they must steal this year, too.

Even the cooler heads in the progressive blogsphere are beginning to see why with polls approaching the 30 percentile approval rating this year's $election will be stolen as brazenly as any since 2000:

...Talk of impeachment, real or play-acted, is beside the point. Even having their hand pushed on Iraq is to them, I believe, a matter of far secondary importance. The key is subpoena power.

Little of what's happened in the last five years would have been possible were it not for the fact that there was no political institution with subpoena power in Washington not under the control of the White House. Obviously, that doesn't apply to pure policy objectives as much as what used to be known as congressional oversight and, particularly, investigations of wrongdoing. Yes, the Democrats briefly controlled the Senate. But that was always a marginal control, and as far as tough oversight it was almost immediately engulfed by 9/11.

The White House and the entire DC GOP for that matter is just sitting on too many secrets and bad acts. The bogus investigations of the pre-war intel is just one example, if one of the most resonant and glaring. Keeping control of the House and the Senate is less a matter of conventional ideological and partisan politics as it is a simple matter of survival.

They have too much to cover up. They could not survive sunlight.

Vampires are like that, and immortal if you don't drive a stake through the heart and cut off their heads.

But sunlight works best.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

More Questions for Dear Leader- Answered

John Brown has a few.

I've taken the liberty to answer a few of them for Dear Leader, who is busy making his own realities.

What have you done in Iraq? Do you ever realize, in the middle of the night, what you've done? Do you?

No, but no one else seems to realize what he's done either.

1. You've caused over 2,370 American soldiers to die in an impoverished land that never attacked us. Was that the right answer to 9/11 or the "threat" from Iraq? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Well, certainly, yes. Next question.

2. Because of your Iraq invasion, thousands of U.S. enlisted personnel are maimed, physically and mentally, for life. What can you tell these victims of your war? That you're honored by their duty towards you, our "mission-accomplished" commander-in-chief?

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths. Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?". It's all in the appropriate training when you're young, you see.

3. Your decision to go to war has led to the death of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Do you have any remorse for this, Mr. President? Or was it that, for you, Iraqis only really deserved to serve as props in "shock and awe" -- your name for your made-for-TV porno/violence program at the beginning of the war, produced and distributed directly into our living rooms by the mainstream media? (Thank you, Fox News.)

See the answer to question 2. Next question.

4. Will you ever, ever accept responsibility for making torture all-American at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere? And the Statue of Liberty -- why, tell us why, did you allow it to be replaced by that image of an abused, hooded, helpless prisoner on a box? Aren't you the least bit concerned at how America is seen by the rest of the world because of your war -- as a brutal aggressor nation, dismissive of the opinions of mankind?

Heckuva job, Brownie

5. What about your mercenaries ("Pentagon contractors") that our tax dollars pay for? Who are they? What are they doing in their multi-thousands in Iraq, and to the Iraqis? Do you know? Or don't you care to know?

They're the Base

6. You said you wanted to "rebuild" Iraq -- but isn't it true that all you've really done is construct a Roman-Empire-style camp, a "Green Zone" for Iraqi collaborators (whom you now mistrust) and U.S. personnel in the heart of Baghdad that is an invitation to insurgent mortars? Haven't you -- tell the truth -- destroyed in Iraq more than you have built? Haven't you?

Heavens, we're here to stay.

7. You say Iraqis now live in a land of "freedom" -- but what kind of freedom? How can it ever be like the Four Freedoms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- freedom of expression and worship, joined with freedom from want and freedom from fear? As electricity fails and bombs terrify citizens in Baghdad, where is the freedom you promised Iraqis, Mr. President?

They know their freedom just fine.

8. Your occupation of Iraq has led to a bloody sectarian conflict. Why do you and your ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad now blame the Iraqis for their problems? Don't you share responsibility for the desperate situation they are in?

You can't make omlettes without corporate freedom to bust a few heads break a few eggs

9. Your trillion-dollar binge of destruction in the cradle of civilization -- who will pay for it? The widows of our soldiers? Our young people, already too debt-burdened paying for their educations? Or their baby-boomer parents who may see their pensions evaporate to support your war?

Did I tell you I have a plan for that- regardless of what those traitors in Congress do?

10. Why can't you truthfully tell us, Mr. President, the reasons you led America into war? Was it for the WMD, for regime change, for the oil, for grand neocon visions, to avenge your father, to win elections at home? What were your real intentions? Are you afraid to tell us? Or is the truth that, deep down, you never really knew?

My intentions? Finding
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

11. And, Mr. President, as you contemplate another war, this time against Iran, won't you ever wake up in the middle of the night, and stop more madness before it is too late?


But that's the point, no?

Zbiggy almost says it all.

...there are four compelling reasons against a preventive air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities:

First, in the absence of an imminent threat (and the Iranians are at least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack would be a unilateral act of war. If undertaken without a formal congressional declaration of war, an attack would be unconstitutional and merit the impeachment of the president. Similarly, if undertaken without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, either alone by the United States or in complicity with Israel, it would stamp the perpetrator(s) as an international outlaw(s).

Second, likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly elsewhere, and in all probability bog down the United States in regional violence for a decade or more. Iran is a country of about 70 million people, and a conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.

Third, oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians were to cut their production or seek to disrupt the flow of oil from the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely affected, and the United States would be blamed for it. Note that oil prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of fears of a U.S.-Iran clash.

Finally, the United States, in the wake of the attack, would become an even more likely target of terrorism while reinforcing global suspicions that U.S. support for Israel is in itself a major cause of the rise of Islamic terrorism. The United States would become more isolated and thus more vulnerable while prospects for an eventual regional accommodation between Israel and its neighbors would be ever more remote.

In short, an attack on Iran would be an act of political folly, setting in motion a progressive upheaval in world affairs. With the U.S. increasingly the object of widespread hostility, the era of American preponderance could even come to a premature end. Although the United States is clearly dominant in the world at the moment, it has neither the power nor the domestic inclination to impose and then to sustain its will in the face of protracted and costly resistance...

On the other hand, Darth Rumsfeld wants more war.

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

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

Details of the plans are secret, but in general they envision a significantly expanded role for the military -- and, in particular, a growing force of elite Special Operations troops -- in continuous operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Developed over about three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, the plans reflect a beefing up of the Pentagon's involvement in domains traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department..."We do not need ambassador-level approval," said one defense official familiar with the order.

The main campaign plan sets priorities, allocates resources such as manpower and funding, and coordinates operations among regional military commands to implement the Pentagon's broader National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, published in unclassified form in February. It lays out nine key goals, such as targeting terrorist leaders, safe havens, communications and other logistical support, and countering extremist ideology.

[Damned liberals!]

...A second detailed plan is focused specifically on al-Qaeda and associated movements, including more than a dozen groups spread across the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa.

[(giggles, smirks) Al Qaeda. Sure it does.]

A third plan sets out how the military can both disrupt and respond to another major terrorist strike on the United States. It includes lengthy annexes that offer a menu of options for the military to retaliate quickly against specific terrorist groups, individuals or state sponsors depending on who is believed to be behind an attack. Another attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets, according to current and former defense officials familiar with the plan.

This plan details "what terrorists or bad guys we would hit if the gloves came off. The gloves are not off," said one official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Most likely one of the "bad guys" they'd hit "when the gloves come off" are this guy, for saying things like:

...America has always rejected war as an instrument of raw power or naked self-interest. We fought when we had to in order to repel grave threats or advance freedom and self-determination in concert with like-minded people everywhere. But our current leadership, for all its rhetoric of freedom and democracy, behaves as though might does make right, enabling us to discard the alliances and institutions that served us so well in the past as nothing more now than impediments to the exercise of unilateral power.

America has always been stronger when we have not only proclaimed free speech, but listened to it. Yes, in every war, there have been those who demand suppression and silencing. And although no one is being jailed today for speaking out against the war in Iraq, the spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country.

Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America’s leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion of the nation’s direction, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate.

In recent weeks, a number of retired high-ranking military leaders, several of whom played key combat or planning roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, have come forward publicly to call for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And across the administration, from the president on down, we’ve heard these calls dismissed or even attacked as acts of disloyalty, or as threats to civilian control of the armed forces. We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That is cheap and it is shameful. And once again we have seen personal attacks on the character of those who speak out. How dare those who never wore the uniform in battle attack those who wore it all their lives—and who, retired or not, did not resign their citizenship in order to serve their country.

The former top operating officer at the Pentagon, a Marine Lieutenant General, said “the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions–or bury the results...”

Darth Rumsfeld, as I've said before, isn't going anywhere, unless Dear Leader's minions fail to Diebold things this fall.

And if they do their job in the War on Terra, expect those camps to fill up soon.

What's good for Endless War is good for the Company

...The company swiftly rose to international prominence: Journalists were flooding Blackwater with calls, and military types were clamoring to sign up for work. "They're angry...they're saying, 'Let me go over,'" Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli told the Virginian-Pilot ten days after the killings, adding that applications to work for Blackwater had increased "considerably" in that time. "It's natural to assume that the visibility of the dangers could drive up salaries for the folks who have to stand in the path of the bullets," he said. A day after the killings, Prince enlisted the services of the Alexander Strategy Group, a now disgraced but once powerful Republican lobbying and PR firm. By the end of 2004 Blackwater's president, Gary Jackson, was bragging to the press of "staggering" 600 percent growth. "This is a billion-dollar industry," Jackson said in October 2004. "And Blackwater has only scratched the surface of it."

But today, Blackwater is facing a potentially devastating battle--this time not in Iraq but in court. The company has been slapped with a lawsuit that, if successful, will send shock waves through the world of private security firms, a world that has expanded significantly since Bush took office. Blackwater is being sued for the wrongful deaths of Stephen "Scott" Helvenston, Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona by the families of the men slain in Falluja.

More than 428 private contractors have been killed to date in Iraq, and US taxpayers are footing almost the entire compensation bill to their families. "This is a precedent-setting case," says Marc Miles, an attorney for the families. "Just like with tobacco litigation or gun litigation, once they lose that first case, they'd be fearful there would be other lawsuits to follow..."

Alice wrote recently about another interesting group, the WVC3 Corporation while I was traveling in Atlantis Florida. It's should be no surprise that mercenary minions of Sauron private security firms like WVC3 are taking an active interest in advocating the unthinkable.

Stupid is as stupid does

It all depends on what the meaning of the word "small" is.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington sent a delegation to the White House on Friday to demand a detailed explanation of how an adherent of the Falun Gong spiritual sect, which is banned in China, managed to infiltrate the welcome ceremony for Mr. Hu on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday and heckle Mr. Hu for several minutes before being escorted away.

While Mr. Hu appeared unfazed by the disruption and continued with his planned events Thursday and Friday, some analysts said the security breach might end up heightening the distrust between the nations that the visit had been intended to dispel...

The reception for Mr. Hu was further marred when a White House announcer confused the official name of China with that of its archrival, Taiwan, while introducing China's national anthem. Separately, photographs show that as the event ended, President Bush first steered Mr. Hu to leave the podium and then, realizing he had done so prematurely, grabbed the Chinese leader by the arm and pulled him back into the proper position.

The protocol problems may have had more resonance than the nature of the small slights would suggest because Mr. Hu's visit did not achieve any significant breakthroughs and the Chinese always emphasize careful staging of major political events...

And the Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton administration doesn't. Right.

No one ever told Dear Leader: Never laugh at live Dragons.

Not that there's any particular danger from this dragon. It isn't predatory, although like all dragons- and like the dwarves who run things here these days- it loves gold. But dragons can be provoked, and whether they regard us as a respected rival or an enemy to be burnt will make a difference.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Interval in Sunlight

I generally hate to talk about love, for the simple reason it almost never resembles anything anyone says about it.

Sometimes there is no other motivation so strong. Sometimes who and what you love is the only motivation you can come up with to explain your behavior when faced with tradition- or madness. With that in mind, observe how with the changing of the seasons from subarctic wasteland ice to subtropical scrubland bog in Michigan comes the Passover/ Easter ritual.

My wife, a brilliant yet devout yet feminist yet Catholic yet scientist, felt the homing urge of traditional obligation, and floated the idea of a pilgrimage to the altar of capitalism and retirement homeland of her parents, the Emerald Coast of Florida. Here we could discharge our familial responsibilities: a week with her parents, and a day or so coming and going with my parents in their retirement flat in the hills of Tennessee. I never pass up a chance to go running in Warner Park.

There is an ancient kame that lives there, and I like to let it know that it is appreciated.

So on "Holy Thursday" ahead of Good Friday we packed the Pilot with our dog, our daughters and ourselves and began the sojourn.

That day in early April the sun brought the temperature: 90 oF in southeastern Michigan. It was cooler in Nashville, and cooler still at the Gulf of Mexico.

Far away you could hear the groan of glaciers moving to the sea.

Along the way were the compressed harbingers of spring more green with every mile, passing the outstretched arms of Jesus and the Cross proceeding to an Easter vigil, ahead of the storm.

I am always amazed at the natural beauty of the Southern highlands. Redbud and dogwood in the hills of Kentucky: add the purple locust, the brilliant greens and deep reds and orange of budding hardwoods, and the deep verdence of cedar glades and pine stands.

The miles rolled by, and I played psyops with the speed cops.

Anyone from Michigan knows about Ohio state troopers, which are only marginally more ubiquitous than state troopers anywhere else. It's the stereotypical Ohio driver, moving ten miles below the speed limit in the left lane until they decide to pass someone at 90 miles an hour in the right lane that make driving there so special. The most special drivers and gen d'armes of all are found in Alabama, where it's the Christian duty to drive like the Dukes of Hazzard.

Unless you're close to what passes for a Big City in Alabama. In Birmingham you get about 5 miles from downtown before you see what's given as Civilization, but at least you have pretty hills. In Montgomery you don't even have that, as the speed limit falls from 70 to 50 mph over a few hundred yards of highway ["45 MPH MINIMUM"] and there are almost as many traffic troopers lurking as people on the highway.

Or what passes for people, anyway, flying colossal Confederate flags in small towns with names like Warrior, Alabama. Homes of the Sons of the Confederacy. Alabama, never occupied by the Union, and where the first War Between the States Foghorn Leghorn chicken hawks crowed their defiance as they donned their hoods. Towns where the mighty sword of Jesus the Barbarian stands guardian against pagan traditions only openly observed here by the Upper Classes. Pagan traditions like the Easter Bunny are frowned upon by the local minister, who says you need to drop that dollar in the pot of the Lord instead of the pot of the local Dollar General Store for candy for the young'uns.

South of Montgomery, there is a little jog you take on a narrow two lane road, a couple of turns you take through small hamlets with blooming rhododendrons and rusty trailers, and in the middle of nowhere is a little traveled four lane highway with the same 65 MPH speed limit as the South Alabama Interstate and built with the best pork dollars Uncle Sugar has for Right Thinking Folks.

We made time with no one on the road except an occasional farmer. Not a trooper in sight- only black unmarked cars with darkened black windows, spot lights (even the spot casings were black), heavily aerialed and traveling down the highway at what must have been 100 MPH. Very Important Porkers, indeed. Boss Hawg's deputies gone all DynCorp, from all appearances.

Finally to the Emerald Coast, or what is left of it after last summer...

Easter dawned, my wife took the kids to Mass to get Jesus. I ran and took in the spectacle of the people of the bubble.

They earned this name. Here on the Emerald Coast, New Orleans is a couple of hundred miles to the west, and light years away in the mind. Although the ocean is about 100 yards closer to the condos and beachfront homes, crashing a few feet away from the broken piles and cracked foundations of most. Katrina surely was a once in a lifetime event, and hundreds of millions of Federal dollars are being spent to rebuild beaches along the resorts surrounding Eglin Air Force base. With Jesus, they all say, property values must stay high, because dozens of high rises are being built- often rebuilt after last summer.

The hysteria is suppressed but there nonetheless, the monster in the closet. We sitting here in the only free internet access for miles around. In this crowded cafe, my family is the only one actually using it.

Everyone here is white, republican, or trying desperately to appear so. Or working for the white republicans. But isn't it that way everywhere?

So pass the sunscreen. We're in the last days of Atlantis before the wave. The wine is sweet, the wind is strong, and change is in the air. You can feel it in the fever of the Faithful, trying to bring about the Will of their One God, whose real Name they hide from themselves.

There are those of us still who love it enough to preserve the High Culture from the incantations of the priest-kings.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chindogu President


Atrios can't figure out why Darth Rumsfeld is still at the top of the heap in Washington.

It becomes very simple when you use Occam's razor. Sometimes a dimwit really is a dimwit. Sometimes people who sow the seeds of war profit nicely from it.

Dear Leader has not fired Rumsfeld, because he can not.

George W. Bush is not in control, someone else- or some Company- is.

So When Did the Unthinkable Become an Option?

There are many very good posts across the progressive blogsphere this week concerning the latest folly in the War on Terra: nuking Iran.

Along with Hersh's revelation, Krugman says:

"But he wouldn't do that." That sentiment is what made it possible for President Bush to stampede America into the Iraq war and to fend off hard questions about the reasons for that war until after the 2004 election. Many people just didn't want to believe that an American president would deliberately mislead the nation on matters of war and peace.

Now people with contacts in the administration and the military warn that Mr. Bush may be planning another war. The most alarming of the warnings come from Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal. Writing in The New Yorker, Mr. Hersh suggests that administration officials believe that a bombing campaign could lead to desirable regime change in Iran - and that they refuse to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

"But he wouldn't do that," say people who think they're being sensible. Given what we now know about the origins of the Iraq war, however, discounting the possibility that Mr. Bush will start another ill-conceived and unnecessary war isn't sensible. It's wishful thinking...

Billmon returns to cyberspace with his usual excellent breakdown of the political situation here:

...I mean, what exactly does it take to get a rise out of the media industrial complex these days? A nuclear first strike against a major Middle Eastern oil producer doesn't ring the bell? Must every story have a missing white woman in it before the cable news guys will start taking it seriously?

...I've been trying to picture what the world might look like the day after a U.S. nuclear strike on Iran, but I'm essentially drawing a blank. There simply isn't a precedent for the world's dominant superpower turning into a rogue state – much less a rogue state willing to wage nuclear war against potential, even hypothetical, security threats. At that point, we’d truly be through the looking glass.

One can assume (or at least hope) that first use of nuclear weapons would turn America into an international pariah, at least in the eyes of global public opinion. It would certainly mark the definitive end of the system of collective security – and the laws and institutions supporting that system – established in the wake of World War II. The UN Security Council would be rendered as pointless as the old League of Nations. The Nuremberg Principles would be as moot as the Geneva Conventions. (To the neocons, of course, these are all pluses.)

Nuclear first use would also shatter (or at least, radically transform) the political alliances that defined America's leadership role in the old postwar order. To the extent any of these relationships survived, they’d be placed on roughly the same basis as the current U.S. protectorate over Saudi Arabia – or, even worse, brought down to the level of the old Warsaw Pact. They would be coalitions of the weak, the vulnerable and the easily intimidated.

In other words, the current hegemony of American influence and ideas (backed by overwhelming military force) would be replaced by an overt dictatorship based – more or less explicitly – on fear of nuclear annihilation. U.S. foreign policy would become nothing more than a variation on the ancient Roman warning: For every one of our dead; 100 of yours. Never again would American rulers (or their foreign counterparts) be able to hide behind the comfortable fiction that the United States is just primus inter pares – first among equals. A country that nukes other countries merely on the suspicion that they may pose a future security threat isn't the equal of anybody. America would stand completely alone: hated by many, feared by all, admired only by the world’s other tyrants. To call that a watershed event seems a ridiculous understatement.

But I can't even begin to guess what such an event would mean in immediate, tangible terms (other the creation of a large, radioactive hole about 200 miles south of Tehran). It’s entirely possible the near-term consequences wouldn't appear as cataclysmic as you might expect from such a world-shaking event – except, of course, for those poor souls unlucky enough to be living near or downwind from one of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

Yes, the price of oil could go to $150 a barrel, and yes, Iran could retaliate with a terrorist offensive that would light Iraq and the Persian Gulf up like Roman candles. We can't rule out a major attack on American soil. (A recent report based on Saudi intelligence sources claims the al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps – probably the most capable terrorist support organization in the world – already has a box on its organizational chart labeled "North America.")

But, barring another 9/11, or a worldwide financial meltdown, the day after a nuclear strike on Iran might not look that much different than the day before, at least to the folks back home. The impact on oil prices – and even more importantly, on prices at the pump – might be containable, at least in the short-term, if the Straits of Hormuz remain open and the strategic oil reserve does what it's supposed to do. (Very big ifs, to be sure, but not impossible ones. Neither of the last two wars in the gulf turned into the energy catastrophes everyone had feared when they started.) Financial markets might actually rally if Wall Street judges the strike to have been a "success." As for an Iranian-backed terror offensive in Iraq, at this point you have to wonder if anyone would notice.

For most Americans, then, the initial impact of war with Iran could play out in the same theatre of the absurd as the first Gulf War and the opening phases of the Iraq invasion – that is to say, on their living room TVs. And if there's one place where a nuclear first strike could be made to appear almost normal, or even a good thing, it's on the boob tube...

But my thought exercise – What if we started a nuclear war and nobody noticed? – is still useful, if only as a reminder of how easy it can be to lead gullible people down a path that ends in a place no sane human being would ever want to go. A nation that can live with the idea of launching a nuclear first strike isn’t likely to have much trouble with the rest of the program – particularly when its people, like their leader, are convinced they’ve been chosen to save the world.

...Having seen the consequences of the neoncons' last military master stroke, the House of Saud may have decided it's better to reach an accommodation with Tehran rather than rely on the infidels to flatten it.

Even if that's true, however, the Saudis and their fellow Gulf princelings will have little choice but to go with the neocon flow. Indeed, one ironic result of the havoc the Cheney administration is creating in the Middle East is that it has left America's oil protectorates even more dependent on the hegemon to defend them from the forces it has unleased. From an imperial point of view, on other words, failure can be as good as success -- and maybe even better.

Just how crazy are they? To paraphrase an old joke, it just depends on what the meaning of are is.

Over on the high plains the farmer's put a series of excellent posts on the nuclear(they wouldn't do that would they?) tests planned in Nevada for June. Maybe.

In a picture worth a thousand words, MJS sums the perspective up at the Cheneyburton White House:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

You can not make this stuff up:


...Bush admits he selectively leaked classified information that wasn't declassified until days after he and Cheney had Scooter Libby leak it to Judith Miller, the pro-war megaphone for the New York Times publication of Bush lies. Bush "authorizes" this leak at a time that he is claiming that if he ever finds the leaker, he will basically fire him, meaning himself. Then he continues a public and Department of Justice vendetta against leakers, but not himself: the leaker-in-chief.

Okay, now Libby is sent out with the leak in order to debunk Joe Wilson's accounting of the truth about the non-existent Iraq-Niger uranium deal. Libby actually makes language up that doesn't exist in the document to further the lie that Wilson exposed. In short, Libby selectively used classified information to try to smear the truth with more lies.

Okay, it gets better (or actually, worse). When Bush is exposed through Libby's revealing to Patrick Fitzgerald that Bush gave the green light to leak a lie to cover up a lie and prevent more lies from being exposed, Bush admits to leaking, but tells the American people that it was to get the "truth out."

Are you following this? (And we haven't even gotten into the actual Valerie Plame outing to Novak yet. We are still in the sideshow.)

If this sounds like some farce, remember that thousands upon thousands of Americans and Iraqis have died in this farce -- and the nation is nearly bankrupt.

Bu$h's Ba$e

Crooks and Liars in the post I linked to last night also references a year-old post by Jane Hamsher compiling some of the private contractor playahs in the Iraq(n) UnCivil War.

Also, the Blackwater snuff-'em-4-fun flick is linked here. That's professionalism. I wonder if this is what the Praetorian Guards are made up of these days?

No wonder the locals react badly to Blackwater.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dear Leader does Vegas

Q Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)

Q I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. I'm -- thanks. (Laughter.)

So-Called Thought of the Formerly Unthinkable

Rational discourse being so 20th Century, it pays to know what the political scientists are thinking:

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy
Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press
From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006

For almost half a century, the world's most powerful nuclear states have been locked in a military stalemate known as mutual assured destruction (MAD). By the early 1960s, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither country could entirely destroy the other's retaliatory force by launching first, even with a surprise attack. Starting a nuclear war was therefore tantamount to committing suicide.

During the Cold War, many scholars and policy analysts believed that MAD made the world relatively stable and peaceful because it induced great caution in international politics, discouraged the use of nuclear threats to resolve disputes, and generally restrained the superpowers' behavior. (Revealingly, the last intense nuclear standoff, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, occurred at the dawn of the era of MAD.) Because of the nuclear stalemate, the optimists argued, the era of intentional great-power wars had ended. Critics of MAD, however, argued that it prevented not great-power war but the rolling back of the power and influence of a dangerously expansionist and totalitarian Soviet Union. From that perspective, MAD prolonged the life of an evil empire.

One wonders which evil empire the authors don't object to?

...Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States' nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia's arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China's nuclear forces. Unless Washington's policies change or Moscow and Beijing take steps to increase the size and readiness of their forces, Russia and China -- and the rest of the world -- will live in the shadow of U.S. nuclear primacy for many years to come.

If you really believe that, there is also a bridge in Brooklyn you might like to consider buying. Not to mention some land just south of Miami.

But I digress:

...Since the Cold War's end, the U.S. nuclear arsenal has significantly improved. The United States has replaced the ballistic missiles on its submarines with the substantially more accurate Trident II D-5 missiles, many of which carry new, larger-yield warheads. The U.S. Navy has shifted a greater proportion of its SSBNs to the Pacific so that they can patrol near the Chinese coast or in the blind spot of Russia's early warning radar network. The U.S. Air Force has finished equipping its B-52 bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, which are probably invisible to Russian and Chinese air-defense radar. And the air force has also enhanced the avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers to permit them to fly at extremely low altitudes in order to avoid even the most sophisticated radar. Finally, although the air force finished dismantling its highly lethal MX missiles in 2005 to comply with arms control agreements, it is significantly improving its remaining ICBMs by installing the MX's high-yield warheads and advanced reentry vehicles on Minuteman ICBMs, and it has upgraded the Minuteman's guidance systems to match the MX's accuracy.

C'mon. You don't need to be accurate with nukes.

...To determine how much the nuclear balance has changed since the Cold War, we ran a computer model of a hypothetical U.S. attack on Russia's nuclear arsenal using the standard unclassified formulas that defense analysts have used for decades...

Guess what? Our GIGO simulation indicates we'd win!!

...This simple plan is presumably less effective than Washington's actual strategy, which the U.S. government has spent decades perfecting. The real U.S. war plan may call for first targeting Russia's command and control, sabotaging Russia's radar stations, or taking other preemptive measures -- all of which would make the actual U.S. force far more lethal than our model assumes.

According to our model, such a simplified surprise attack would have a good chance of destroying every Russian bomber base, submarine, and ICBM...

Except, of course, the ones we miss or don't know about.

...Hawks will undoubtedly see the advent of U.S. nuclear primacy as a positive development. For them, MAD was regrettable because it left the United States vulnerable to nuclear attack. With the passing of MAD, they argue, Washington will have what strategists refer to as "escalation dominance" -- the ability to win a war at any level of violence -- and will thus be better positioned to check the ambitions of dangerous states such as China, North Korea, and Iran. Doves, on the other hand, are fearful of a world in which the United States feels free to threaten -- and perhaps even use -- force in pursuit of its foreign policy goals. In their view, nuclear weapons can produce peace and stability only when all nuclear powers are equally vulnerable. Owls worry that nuclear primacy will cause destabilizing reactions on the part of other governments regardless of the United States' intentions...

On the other hand, dragons simply want to burn it all to cinders and sleep on a mountain of gold.

Thanks to Jeff Wells for the link.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

New technology and low-cost labor in places like China and India have put downward pressure on the wages and benefits of the average American worker. Executive pay, meanwhile, continues to rise at an astonishing rate.

The average pay for a chief executive increased 27 percent last year, to $11.3 million, according to a survey of 200 large companies by Pearl Meyer & Partners, the compensation practice of Clark Consulting. The median chief executive's pay was somewhat lower, at $8.4 million, for an increase of 10.3 percent over 2004. By contrast, the average wage-earner took home $43,480 in 2004, according to Commerce Department data. And recent wage data from the Labor Department suggest that workers' weekly pay, up 2.9 percent in 2005, failed to keep pace with inflation of 3.3 percent.

Many forces are pushing executive pay into the stratosphere. Huge gains from stock options during the 1990's bull market are one major reason. So is the recruitment of celebrity C.E.O.'s, which has bid up the compensation of all top executives.

Compensation consultants, who are hired to advise boards, are often motivated to produce big paydays for managers. After all, the boss can hand their company lucrative contracts down the road.

Compensation committees, meanwhile, are often reluctant to withhold a bonus or stock award for poor performance. Many big shareholders, such as mutual funds and pension plans, have chosen not to cast votes critical of management. The results have been a growing gap between chief executives and ordinary employees, and often between the boss and managers one layer below...

Dear Leader's economy is very good, especially for his base.

Hombre de paja

Andrew Christie lays it all out:

As immigration again becomes the hottest political topic in America, the debate has again focused on higher fences and driver's licenses, amnesties and guest worker programs. As always, a central fact has gone largely unstated: Corporate globalization and U.S. trade policies have more to do with how many people cross our borders illegally than U.S. immigration policy or any potential reform thereof.

The exploitation of less developed countries in the economic globalization framework known as free trade has resulted in their financial and environmental impoverishment - both major causes of global overpopulation and increased migration.

When the focus of the debate is U.S. immigration policy rather than the nature of immigration, this reality is invisible...

...While it's a given that overconsumption and waste is built in to the model of economic globalization, one seldom hears it acknowledged that forced migration is also a consequence of the increasing impoverishment of less developed nations, and therefore also directly attributable to the role of free-trade style globalization...

Regardless of what you believe about resource consumption, overpopulation or immigration in setting the bar for a sustainable society and healthy environment, the problem is the economic engine of inequity that is driving both wasteful consumption and forced migration. Tackling the problem at its source means focusing our energies on a common strategy with a common goal: Eliminating the growing chasm between the winning and losing ends of the "free trade" equation. That means turning free trade into fair trade.

"Restricting immigration to the United States won't solve the environmental problems that force people to move in the first place, and the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants indicate that restrictions are more thumb-in-the-dike than viable policy," says Stephen Mills, director of the Sierra Club's International Program. "The Sierra Club's international efforts go to the headwaters, promoting environmentally sustainable livelihoods that keep forests and families healthy, while making polluting multinational corporations accountable and trade agreements fair."

Or as environmental legend and past Sierra Club President David Brower succinctly put it as he cast his sharp eye on the fallout from the North American Free Trade Agreement: "Rather than complaining about immigration from Mexico, the U.S. could stop causing it."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Accelerating the Timetable on the Timeline

John Titor warned it would happen in 2015 on his timeline, but it looks like sinking polls are making Dear Leader restless on this one.

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz, which is no longer under I.A.E.A. safeguards, reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. That number of centrifuges could provide enough enriched uranium for about twenty nuclear warheads a year. (Iran has acknowledged that it initially kept the existence of its enrichment program hidden from I.A.E.A. inspectors, but claims that none of its current activity is barred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.) The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.

Dear Leader is uneasy. Things are fragmenting too soon, and Negroponte's not ready to make his move yet. Halliburton needs at least the summer to finish building the new concentration labor camps.

But DeLay is gone, and Frist cannot hold the Senate. The Congress is unimpressed. Even that idiot Sensenbrenner, the man who once wanted Dear Leader as Shogun forever, is irate that Alberto's been reading his email and scanning his hardrives.

Even with Diebold etherizing the votes for the Republicans and the pliant DINOcrats, enough firebrands might reach Congress to make life difficult. Heaven forbid, maybe even take a House.

And although the Courts are now in line, the drive towards Hegemony may be diverted.

Yes, if Dear Leader sees a clear profit in it, he will nuke Iran in hopes of making both Iraq and Iran submissive.

What Dear Leader doesn't realize is these nations take Jihad far more seriously than his base takes their theocon Crusade.

Nuke a city, and millions- possibly billions- of people will not rest in their personal war against us as long as they live.

Pre-emptively nuke a city, and every other nuclear power will think of doing that to America before America can do it to them.

People shoot mad dogs, don't they? And if our mouth is foaming, and we're biting the air...

Anyone got a good C204 time distortion gravity displacement machine? Used is okay with me.

And 2015? No way.

Condom of Arabia

There is enormous political symbolism in the circuitous route that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took for visiting Baghdad on Monday. She headed first to the quiet British town of Blackburn for a weekend's bonding with her British allies, and then proceeded to Iraq, accompanied by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Any limited perspective on the Rice-Straw mission in terms of cajoling Ibrahim al-Jaafari to give up his prime ministership in Baghdad overlooks that Iraq is the cornerstone of the United States' imperial venture in remaking the Middle East, with the objective of controlling the region - its flows of oil, weapons and money.

Two major powers traditionally active in the region are responding to the Anglo-American drive for a New Middle East - Russia and Turkey.

The Russian moves are impressive - strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia, gaining observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC), revival of ties with Syria and Egypt, contact with Hamas, networking with Iraqi Sunni tribal leaderships, institutional ties with the Arab League, and, arguably, the heavily nuanced line on Iran.

Germane to all this, Moscow perceives a likely replay of past Anglo-American attempts to pit the Muslim world against Russia. Given its history, geography and culture and the multinational and multi-faith character of its society, Russia has everything to lose in an "inter-civilizational" conflict...

Putin called for "consensual approaches" to the issues of social, economic and political transformation in the Arab world: "Events should not be rushed in an artificial way, nor should outside pressure be applied." Stressing that resolving the Palestinian problem within the framework of UN Resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515 should be the priority, Putin described Russia's "dialogue" with Hamas as an "approach to new realities in a constructive and pragmatic way".

Putin said Iraq's unity and territorial integrity could only be achieved through a national dialogue and by "ending the foreign military presence". He called for a lowering of "tensions around Lebanon and Syria" and opposed "any third-party" role.

It comes as no surprise that the countries of the Arab Middle East have warmed to the Russian overtures...

...the head of the Saudi National Security Council, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, paid a "working visit" to Moscow on Tuesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the hugely influential Saudi prince's agenda included the Palestine issue, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and "conditions in Iraq", apart from "building up and deepening" Russia-Saudi relations...

...Like Russia, Turkey is primarily taking precautions that at the very least a New Middle East, if one indeed shapes up under Anglo-American supervision, would not be pitted against Turkey's core interests. In uncertain times, it becomes prudent to hedge one's bets.

Having said that, both Moscow and Ankara will focus on Iraq in immediate terms. This course is Iraq's security. Moscow and Ankara would be justified to ask: "What was it that Straw could offer Rice?"

The answer lies in one of the most influential and enduring British strategic theories attributed to T E Lawrence. This strategy was distilled by Lawrence in the deserts of Arabia in the second decade of the 20th century (and to which Britain remained largely faithful even in Northern Ireland). In terms of this, Straw would tell Rice that in Iraq, to begin with, instead of being bogged down in a senseless trench war where armed clashes were turning into mass butchery, Washington should focus on a strategy of warfare that dispensed with battles.

[I'm sure someone in the Company is saying, "Where's the profit in that?"]

Conceivably, Straw would counsel Rice that instead of attacking the Iraqi enemies, she should go around them, as Lawrence would have done, "immobilizing and isolating them, wearing them down as their sentries peer into the darkness searching for attackers who might or might not be lurking in the night" - to use the inimitable words of David Fromkin, author of the classic study on 1922 Middle East settlement, A Peace to End All Peace...

Thus a paradox so typical of our times arises: the strategy attributed to Lawrence, the hero of British imperialism, is most effective against a great power that favors pitched, face-to face battles.

What's it all about, Rummy?

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about..."

Donald Rumsfeld certainly knows what war is all about.

Friday, April 07, 2006

When all you can do is hammer, you look for a country to nail

The Pentagon's a Few Good Men in search of a good Cold War.

Not Terrorism -- China Drives Up U.S. Military Spending
by Michael T. Klare

AMHERST, Mass. -- Ostensibly, the growing threat of international terrorism is responsible for the Bush administration's proposed 2007 military budget, of $439 billion: a 7-percent increase from last year's record tally. Higher spending, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has indicated, would ensure U.S. success "in the long war against terrorist extremism."

But only a small share of the increase would cover specialized anti-terror and counter-insurgency systems. The biggest and costliest items -- such as nuclear-powered submarines and long-range bombers -- are intended for use against an entirely different enemy: the People's Republic of China...

The U.S. Defense Department isn't exactly forthcoming about its perception of the China threat. Rather, it speaks of unnamed future challengers that might someday contest American military dominance. The United States "must hedge against the possibility that a major power could choose a hostile path in the future," says the Pentagon's four-year-strategy review. It's to deter -- and, if necessary, defeat -- such challengers that the Defense Department wants to bankroll pricey new military systems.

The Pentagon has spelled out its rationale for this "hedging strategy" in its Quadrennial Defense Review of 2006. A comprehensive assessment of military policy conducted every four years, the review shapes the Pentagon's long-term strategic planning. This year's version accords equal weight to "defeating terrorist networks," "defending the homeland," and "shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads."

The first two of these priorities are obvious enough, but what is meant by the third? The answer, if one reads between the lines, is that the United States should splurge on super-sophisticated weapons to prevent any aspirants to super-power status from ever catching up, or even trying.

For those familiar with the evolution of U.S. strategic thinking over the past 15 years, this sounds very similar to the perpetual-dominance posture, first articulated in the famous "Defense Planning Guidance" document leaked in 1992, shortly after the Soviet Union's collapse. "Our first objective must be to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival," comparable to the U.S.S.R., said the top-secret document. To this end, "we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

"Of all the emerging powers," states the Pentagon's current four-year review, "China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States." With its booming economy, China has increased its military spending and acquired new weapons, putting "regional military balances at risk."

Yet there's no evidence that China actually seeks to compete with the United States on equal military terms, or to close the gap in advanced military technology...

Still, this hasn't stopped the Pentagon brass from seeking costly new weapons to fight a hypothetical greatly enlarged Chinese threat. Among the costliest items in the Bush administration's proposed military budget are the F-22A Raptor air-superiority fighter ($2.8 billion); the multi-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ($5.3 billion); the futuristic DD(X) destroyer ($3.4 billion); and the Virginia Class nuclear-attack submarine ($2.6 billion). Additional billions are included for a new class of aircraft carrier and a next-generation long-range bomber.

It's hard to imagine that these costly, super-sophisticated weapons would be used to fight bands of lightly armed guerrillas in Baghdad or Tora Bora. The only adversary that might conceivably pose a potent enough threat to justify use of such systems is a beefed-up China. It's to fight this imagined Chinese threat that the administration wants to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into unnecessary military programs.

Spending all this money might discourage China from building up its military and thereby avert a future U.S.-Chinese clash. But it's just as likely that it would have the opposite effect. To defend itself from the implicitly anti-Chinese weapons, Beijing might develop countervailing systems, and so become the heavily armed power that we sought to avoid in the first place...

Of course the military-industrial complex would prefer another Cold War. That's the underlying strategery. China's entirely too peaceful for the Pentagon. How else to keep the checks coming in?

But as usual, the bully boys and brass are thinking with their gonads and not their vestigal brains. Like the debacle in Iraq, the strategery has gotten too multi-tiered for even the best Pentagon gamesmasters to anticipate. When you're swimming with the alligators, it's hard to remember the objective is to drain the swamp and not eat the civilians who pay taxes to keep you in the soup.

How do you do an arms build-up against China when most of your own best laboratory scientists are, in fact, Chinese?