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

Monday, July 31, 2006

The right way, the wrong way, and the road to chaos

An interesting post from that cautious pessimist:

...even for the Middle East, which has seen so many wars, this war is an odd one. Israel's actions appear counter-intuitive, even by its hard-right's own measure of "national security." Its self-immolation of any credible claim to a just cause virtually assures tragedy for itself and its people. Its goading Syria and Iran into a general war by turning Lebanon into a slaughterhouse means the Israeli state has become, itself, a suicide bomber; an engine of apocalypse. But for whom, and for what?

"[Israeli] Defense officials told the [Jerusalem] Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria." And Haaretz quotes Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah as saying on Saturday that the "Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they are afraid of the unknown. The one pushing for the continuation of the aggression is the US administration." And then there are a pair of Mephistopholean characters named Cheney and Netanyahu.

It's often presumed that Israel leads American policy in the Middle East, and that's frequently been true, which is why this war is strikingly and disturbingly different. The United States is actually egging on Israel to press the attack regardless of the cost Israelis may be expected to bear for the fresh blood its armed forces shed. George Bush spoke arguably his most frightening and truthful words last Friday, when he admitted that it's not the White House intention to create "a sense of stability." It's by instability - by creating "failed states" in the Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere - that End-Time criminals stand to gain the most...

In the mid-90s, there was talk of a different, new Middle East.

On the evening of November 4, 1995, in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square, Yitzhak Rabin spoke these words:

"There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace. We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

"This is a course which is fraught with difficulties and pain. For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this Government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.

"This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you."

And then he was shot...

Rabin's convicted lone gunman, Yigal Amir, had close ties to the extremist nationalist organization Eyal, and was groomed by its founder Avishai Raviv to kill Rabin. The Israeli paper Maariv reported November 24, 1995 that "according to Sarah Eliash, a schooteacher working at the Shomron Girls Seminary, some of her pupils heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Raviv told Amir, "Show us you're a man. Do it..."

Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg elaborated on the girls testimony writing for The Jerusalem Post, which Barry Chamish quotes in his Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?

Now, would it surprise you to know that Avishai Raviv, the founder of the extremist Eyal and the bug in the ear of Rabin's assassin, was also a Shabak (or "Shin Bet," Israel's covert internal security) agent, codenamed "Champagne" for, writes Chamish, "the bubbles of incitement he raised"?

...Just as 9/11 was wargamed, so too was Rabin's murder. Shabak explained its failure to protect the Prime Minister at Kings of Israel Square with the excuse that it had "no contingency plan" to stop a lone gunman. A year and a half after the assassination, that blew up in the agency's face with Anashim's interview of two former members of Shabak's personal security unit, Tuvia Livneh and Yisrael Shai. "When Yisrael and I heard the news of the murder we became infuriated at the fact that there was a contingency plan for just such an attempt, which we practiced endless times."

As always with Jeff Wells, the post is substantially longer and much more darkly paranoid than even this bit distilled here. Fact? Fiction? Disinformation?

But he's right about one thing at least. Under these terms, lone gunman is as much an oxymoron as military intelligence.

Doublethink Ceasefire

Israel agreed to a 48-hour suspension of aerial activity over southern Lebanon after its bombing of a Lebanese village on Sunday that killed a number [50+] of children...

Peace is just breaking out all over. At least Condi sez so:

JERUSALEM, Monday, July 31 — Taken aback by the carnage from the Israeli bombing of Qana, Lebanon, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrung the first significant concession from Israel late on Sunday in its nearly three-week-old war against the Hezbollah militia: an immediate 48-hour suspension of aerial strikes.

Especially notable about the suspension was that Ms. Rice’s deputy, Adam Ereli, and not the Israelis, announced it after she held intensive talks with both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

The American decision to break the news on what was essentially an Israeli tactical change reflected the increased concern in the Bush administration about the rising civilian death toll in Lebanon and the havoc it is wreaking with America’s already shaky relations with the Arab world.

Indeed, while Mr. Ereli took pains to assure reporters that American officials had confirmation of the temporary suspension directly from Mr. Olmert’s office, Israeli officials had said nothing publicly about the suspension as of early Monday...

Of course, that didn't last long.

JERUSALEM - The Israeli air force carried out strikes Monday in southern Lebanon despite an agreement to halt raids for 48 hours after nearly 60 Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli bombing, the army said.

The airstrikes near the village of Taibe were meant to protect ground forces operating in the area and were not targeting anyone or anything specific, the army said...

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz made clear in a speech to parliament that Israel would not agree to an immediate cease-fire and had plans to expand its operation in Lebanon.

“It’s forbidden to agree to an immediate cease-fire,” Peretz told parliament, as several Arab legislators heckled him and demanded an immediate halt to the offensive. “Israel will expand and strengthen its activities against the Hezbollah.”

Perhaps this military indignation is in response to the buck-passing at the top. Billmon:

...But for now the Israeli cabinet is putting an enormous and enormously unfair burden on its pilots and their controllers. They now will have to take responsibility for deciding whether a target has or has not been "identified," and whether a strike on that target is worth the risk of another Qana -- an atrocity that would be exponentially magnified by the fact it was committed in the middle of a declared aerial cease fire.

During the Kosovo War, conservatives and the U.S. military both complained about the planning process -- in which every potential target had to be signed off on by a committee of NATO politicians. But this is worse. Instead of approving the targets, or giving the Israeli Air Force a free hand, the Olmert government has essentially kicked the problem -- which could determine the outcome of the war -- down to the bottom of the chain of command.

Not for the first time I ask: Have Israeli's political and military leaders completely lost their marbles?

But one wonders if the real bosses fiddling while the Middle East burns reside in Tel Aviv- or Washington, D.C.- or many places completely different?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Business is Booming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration spelled out plans on Friday to sell $4.6 billion of arms to moderate Arab states, including battle tanks worth as much as $2.9 billion to protect critical Saudi infrastructure.

The announcement came two weeks after the administration said it would sell Israel its latest supply of JP-8 aviation fuel valued at up to $210 million to help Israeli warplanes ''keep peace and security in the region.''

The United States also rushed a delivery of precision-guided bombs requested by Israel after launching its airstrikes against Hizbollah fighters in Lebanon 17 days ago, The New York Times reported last week.

In the newly proposed sales to Arab states, UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter gunships worth up to $808 million would go to the United Arab Emirates, while AH-64 Apache helicopters worth as much as $400 million would go to Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain would also get Black Hawk helicopters, valued at up to $252 million. Jordan would get a potential $156 million in upgrades to 1,000 of its M113A1 armored personnel carriers.

Javelin anti-tank missiles valued at up to $48 million would go to Oman under the deals put forward by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which administers U.S. government-to-government arms sales.

The $2.9 billion Saudi deal involves the sale of 58 older-generation U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks that would be modernized. Also, 315 Saudi-owned, newer-model, Abrams tanks would be improved with such things as air-conditioning and infrared sights for the commanders as well as the gunners.

The project's prime contractor would be General Dynamics Corp.'s Land Systems business unit of Sterling Heights, Michigan, the Pentagon said in a notice to Congress required by law.

Vehicle ``teardown'' and final reassembly would be carried out in Saudi Arabia, the notice said. The upgraded configuration is known as the M1A2S, in which the S stands for Saudi.

``The proposed sale and upgrade will allow Saudi Arabia to operate and exercise a more lethal and survivable M1A2S tank for the protection of critical infrastructure,'' it said.

It also would keep a substantial number of tanks in the region that have ``a high degree of commonality'' with the U.S. tank fleet, the Pentagon said, referring to interchangeable parts...

Meanwhile, pro-jihadist mechanics get to examine U.S. ordinance for exploitable flaws up close and personal.

Just sayin'. Wouldn't want to cut into General Dynamics' profit margin.

Spreading DINOcracy is Infectious

The Secretive Fight Against Bioterror
The government is building a highly classified facility to research biological weapons, but its closed-door approach has raised concerns.
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 30, 2006; A01

On the grounds of a military base an hour's drive from the capital, the Bush administration is building a massive biodefense laboratory unlike any seen since biological weapons were banned 34 years ago.

The heart of the lab is a cluster of sealed chambers built to contain the world's deadliest bacteria and viruses. There, scientists will spend their days simulating the unthinkable: bioterrorism attacks in the form of lethal anthrax spores rendered as wispy powders that can drift for miles on a summer breeze, or common viruses turned into deadly superbugs that ordinary drugs and vaccines cannot stop.

The work at this new lab, at Fort Detrick, Md., could someday save thousands of lives -- or, some fear, create new risks and place the United States in violation of international treaties. In either case, much of what transpires at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) may never be publicly known, because the Bush administration intends to operate the facility largely in secret.

In an unusual arrangement, the building itself will be classified as highly restricted space, from the reception desk to the lab benches to the cages where animals are kept. Few federal facilities, including nuclear labs, operate with such stealth. It is this opacity that some arms-control experts say has become a defining characteristic of U.S. biodefense policy as carried out by the Department of Homeland Security, NBACC's creator.

Since the department's founding in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, its officials have dramatically expanded the government's ability to conduct realistic tests of the pathogens and tactics that might be used in a bioterrorism attack. Some of the research falls within what many arms-control experts say is a legal gray zone, skirting the edges of an international treaty outlawing the production of even small amounts of biological weapons.

The administration dismisses these concerns, however, insisting that the work of NBACC is purely defensive and thus fully legal. It has rejected calls for oversight by independent observers outside the department's network of government scientists and contractors. And it defends the secrecy as necessary to protect Americans...

Although they acknowledge the need to shield the results of some sensitive projects from public view, critics of NBACC fear that excessive secrecy could actually increase the risk of bioterrorism. That would happen, they say, if the lab fosters ill-designed experiments conducted without proper scrutiny or if its work fuels suspicions that could lead other countries to pursue secret biological research.

The few public documents that describe NBACC's research mission have done little to quiet those fears. A computer slide show prepared by the center's directors in 2004 offers a to-do list that suggests the lab will be making and testing small amounts of weaponized microbes and, perhaps, genetically engineered viruses and bacteria. It also calls for "red team" exercises that simulate attacks by hostile groups.

NBACC's close ties to the U.S. intelligence community have also caused concern among the agency's critics. The CIA has assigned advisers to the lab, including at least one member of the "Z-Division," an elite group jointly operated with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that specializes in analyzing and duplicating weapons systems of potential adversaries, officials familiar with the program confirm.

...current and former NBACC officials say: Researchers have to make real biological weapons.

"De facto, we are going to make biowarfare pathogens at NBACC in order to study them," said Penrose "Parney" Albright, former Homeland Security assistant secretary for science and technology.

Other government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, study disease threats such as smallpox to discover cures. By contrast, NBACC (pronounced EN-back) attempts to get inside the head of a bioterrorist. It considers the wide array of potential weapons available. It looks for the holes in society's defenses where an attacker might achieve the maximum harm. It explores the risks posed by emerging technologies, such as new DNA synthesizing techniques that allow the creation of genetically altered or man-made viruses. And it tries in some cases to test the weapon or delivery device that terrorists might use.

...But some experts in international law believe that certain experiments envisioned for the lab could violate the treaty's ban on developing, stockpiling, acquiring or retaining microbes "of types and in quantities that have no justification" for peaceful purposes.

"The main problem with the 'defensive intent' test is that it does not reflect what the treaty actually says," said David Fidler, an Indiana University School of Law professor and expert on the bioweapons convention. The treaty, largely a U.S. creation, does not make a distinction between defensive and offensive activities, Fidler said.

More practically, arms experts say, future U.S. governments may find it harder to object if other countries test genetically engineered pathogens and novel delivery systems, invoking the same need for biodefense.

Already, they say, there is evidence abroad of what some are calling a "global biodefense boom." In the past five years, numerous governments, including some in the developing world -- India, China and Cuba among them -- have begun building high-security labs for studying the most lethal bacteria and viruses.

"These labs have become a status symbol, a prestige item," said Alan Pearson, a biologist at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. "A big question is: Will these labs have transparency?"

Of course not. How can terra'ists make bioweapons if we don't make them for them?

Genetic fingerprinting studies indicate that the anthrax spores mailed to Capitol Hill are identical to stocks of the deadly bacteria maintained by the U.S. Army since 1980, according to scientists familiar with the most recent tests.

Although many laboratories possess the Ames strain of anthrax involved in this fall's bioterrorist attacks, only five laboratories so far have been found to have spores with perfect genetic matches to those in the Senate letters, the scientists said. And all those labs can trace back their samples to a single U.S. military source: the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md.

"That means the original source [of the terrorist material] had to have been USAMRIID," said one of the scientists.

Those matching samples are at Fort Detrick; the Dugway Proving Ground military research facility in Utah; a British military lab called Porton Down; and microbial depositories at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University received its sample from LSU, which received its sample from Porton Down. Dugway and Porton Down got their samples directly from USAMRIID...

Information War Games with Live Ammunition

It's the battle for hearts and minds, not necessarily in that order.

For your consideration, Paul Krugman:

Amid everything else that's going wrong in the world, here's one more piece of depressing news: a few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda.

At one level, this shouldn't be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don't like have been established, whether it's the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole.

But it's dismaying to realize that the machine remains so effective.

Here's how the process works.

First, if the facts fail to support the administration position on an issue — stem cells, global warming, tax cuts, income inequality, Iraq — officials refuse to acknowledge the facts.

Sometimes the officials simply lie. "The tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive and reduced income inequality," Edward Lazear, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, declared a couple of months ago. More often, however, they bob and weave...

Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It's hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag.

Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980's-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.)

Some of my correspondents have even picked up on claims, mostly disseminated on right-wing blogs, that the Bush administration actually did a heck of a job after Katrina.

And what about the perceptions of those who get their news from sources that aren't de facto branches of the Republican National Committee?

The climate of media intimidation that prevailed for several years after 9/11, which made news organizations very cautious about reporting facts that put the administration in a bad light, has abated. But it's not entirely gone. Just a few months ago major news organizations were under fierce attack from the right over their supposed failure to report the "good news" from Iraq — and my sense is that this attack did lead to a temporary softening of news coverage, until the extent of the carnage became undeniable. And the conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, under which lies and truth get equal billing, continue to work in the administration's favor.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Bush administration continues to be remarkably successful at rewriting history...

It's all very Orwellian, of course. But when Orwell wrote of "a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past," he was thinking of totalitarian states. Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?

Dr. Krugman, I think you're presuming you live in a democratic nation with a free press.

Xan has the current Israeli-Lebanon conflagration right:

The Israelis' ...current joyous leap into the Tar Baby of south Lebanon all the more inexplicable. And why for chrissakes all the bombing around Beirut, from whence no Hezbollah rockets whatever flow?

Maybe, just maybe, that isn’t the war they’re fighting. From The Beeb:

"From mass targeting of mobile phones with voice and text messages to old-fashioned radio broadcasts warning of imminent attacks, Israel is deploying a range of old and new technologies in Lebanon as part of the psychological operations (“psyops”) campaign supplementing its military attacks."

Nothing terribly new so far… but read on:

"The Israeli newspaper Maariv on Sunday reported the appearance of a website called All 4 Lebanon which offered payment for tip-offs from Lebanese citizens 'that could help Israel in the fight against Hezbollah'.

"According to Maariv, the site, with content in Arabic, English and French, had been set up by Israeli intelligence."

Still nothing that radical. Fake websites are about as rare as squash bugs, used by commercial interests, politicians, and angry MySpace customers. But now we start getting into some very foily terrain:

"On Friday, residents of southern Lebanon reported receiving recorded messages on their mobile phones from an unknown caller.

"The speaker identified himself as an Israeli and warned people in the area to leave their homes and head north. [snip]

"Inquiries by Lebanon’s communications ministry revealed that the calls had come from exchanges in Italy and Canada, but had originated in Israel."

And finally we get way, way out past where the tinfoil suffers metal fatigue:

"According to an unconfirmed report by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency, Israel managed on Sunday “to intercept the satellite transmissions of Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel for the third successive day, replacing it with Israeli transmissions that reportedly showed Hezbollah command sites and rocket launching pads which Israel claimed it has raided”.

"Replacing a TV station’s picture with output you want the audience to see is more difficult to achieve than jamming."

Put all together like this and we start to see a Test To Destruction of the total information infrastructure.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

It's not a bug, it's a feature

There has been some intriguing speculation floating around among commentators on the net that the Neo-Cons never had any real intention of building electoral democracies -- as we know them -- in the Middle East. In fact, their goal may be the destruction of nation states in their current form in the Middle East and their replacement with a United States "protectorate" of sorts...

The current nation-state structure of the Middle-East is a relatively modern creation that came in the wake of post-colonial rule, primarily by the French, British and Ottomans (and if you go far enough back Rome and other armies who have receded into history.)

Iraq is the perfect example of an artificially constructed nation-state in the Middle East. That is why it is currently experiencing civil war...

In large part, with the exception of Iran (which is Persian, not Arab), identities are still largely determined by religious denomination within Islam rather than national identity. Ironically, this is only less true in a secular dictatorship like Syria (and was also the case in Iraq) -- but the old fault lines are and were just simmering below the surface.

This is a very superficial overview of the Middle East leading back to the point that the fantasy lure of "democracy" for the Middle East is a canard because the nation states Bush is talking about are largely artificial constructs. Given true democracy, they would become dismembered into new nation state constructs along lines that more accurately reflect religious and tribal identities than European imposed artificial national nation state constructs.

That is why much consideration should be given to the idea that the Neo-Cons want to create instability in the Middle East by destroying the very concept of the nation states created during the post-Colonial era. Because with chaos and destruction, the Neo-Cons believe, comes the opportunity to divide and conquer.

The end result would be something akin to a U.S.-British protectorate of sham governments in the Middle East, which would allow the U.S.-British oil companies to control the natural resources.

If all this sounds preposterous to you, remember that a truly Western style democratic government in Iran was overthrown by the U.S. in 1953, largely over the issue of Iran's desire to reclaim their rights to their own oil (which was then completely run as a concession by the British). The Dulles brothers claimed that they were protecting the oil fields from the Soviet Union, but that was so much bunk. They were upholding the right of the West to basically control oil in the Middle East.

The 1953 overthrow of a charismatic, truly democratically elected leader in Iran led, ultimately, to the seizing of the American hostages and the "Ayatollah revolution."

What is clear from history is that U.S. policy has laid the seeds of its own destruction in the Middle East. And Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Neo-Cons are surpassed by no one for being Johnny Appleseeds of self-defeating chaos and destruction.

All that will be born of their wanton and reckless bloodshed is a new generation of anti-American sentiment, more radical, militarized and even further away from any notion of the peaceful development of their societies...

Let's take it one step further. What if that's what the Company intended all along? What if the schemes of the NeoCons like Kristol were touted by Cheneyburton and Darth Rumsfeld because they'd create the Endless War that would produce Endless Profit?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Deja Vú All Over Again. And Again. And Again.

What Pitt says:

...A very small number of people have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice thanks to this war. They are petroleum magnates, gasoline commodities speculators and weapons manufacturers, for the most part. The failed state we have created in Iraq makes Iran quite happy, but also serves the purposes of those who profit from wars. The failed state we have created in Iraq will someday serve to justify the next war, and the next, ad infinitum.

It has come down to this. Again. We have, you see, been here before. Our support of Iran begat our support of Saddam Hussein once the Shah was overthrown. Our support of Hussein begat his reign of terror, the invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War. Our support of the anti-Soviet mujeheddin in Afghanistan, followed by our total abandonment of that war-ravaged nation once the Soviets were beaten, begat the Taliban and al Qaeda. This begat September 11, which begat our current Iraq fiasco for reasons only a few reality-deprived hard-liners in Washington care to even try to explain. What we are doing in Iraq today will begat the next series of horrors, and the next, and the next.

It has come down to this, it will always come down to this, because failure is profitable in the long run for a select few. It will always come down to this until the cycle is broken, forever.

Meanwhile Billmon finally has a bit of a nervous breakdown. I can't say I really blame him, he's been so on lately. There is, after all, this:

A majority of Americans believe the battles now being fought across the Israel–Lebanon border are the beginnings of a wider conflict – one that could result in a war that spans the globe, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows.

The survey included 1,034 likely voters nationwide, and was conducted July 21–25, 2006. It carries a margin of error of +/– 3.1 percentage points.

Asked about their view of the conflict, 29% said they think the conflict between Israeli and Hezbollah forces will lead to a full–blown regional war enveloping several nations, while 19% said they think a world war will result. Another 17% said they think the war will widen to include Lebanese national forces, but will go no further.

Just 24% said they think the current fighting is a typical short–lived skirmish between aggrieved parties.

A bare majority of Americans – 51% – said they sympathize with Israel rather than Lebanon in the current fighting, while 13% said they sympathize with Lebanon. Asked who is more to blame for the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, 61% put the blame on Hezbollah, while 12% blame Israel, and 20% said they were not sure.

Asked about the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, 50% said they sympathize with Israel, compared to 15% who take the side of the Palestinians. The balance of respondents said they were either unsure or sympathized with neither party...

None of the above, anyone? I sympathize with the groundhog, because they're bringing in the bunker busters.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nuclear Dodge Behind a Mushroom Smokescreen

Reptilican and DINOcrat pork-munching Congresscritters always seem the last to know.

It's recently come out that the Pakistanis are using their Khushab reactor site as a technological base for another series of nuclear weapons grade reactors.

The Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton company's known about it for awhile, and it's recently disturbed our Representatives to find out that those perfidous Chinese are helping both Paks' and Indians sides'- and nobody's told them.

...The reactor, which reportedly will be capable of producing enough plutonium for as many as 50 bombs each year, was brought to light on Sunday by independent analysts who spotted the partially completed plant in commercial-satellite photos. Snow said the administration had "known of these plans for some time."

The acknowledgment came as arms-control experts and some in Congress expressed alarm about a possible escalation of South Asia's arms race. Some also sharply criticized the administration for failing to disclose the existence of a facility that could influence an upcoming congressional debate over U.S. nuclear policy toward India and Pakistan...

Our Congress at work, especially in a $election year.

But these kinds of reports about China 's actions have been floating around government think tanks awhile.

It's not like the data's been hidden for anyone paying attention or even capable of using a search engine. How do you suppose those of us outside the beltway find out about these things? Or the fact that the "American" corporation Westinghouse is one of the companies selling the plutonium breeder reactor technology to China that gets sent to their client warlords strategic allies who incidently happen to not like each other?

You don't just have to look in Asian sources. You don't need a better CIA to find these things out. Just open up the business section of your own newspapers.

... Areva and Westinghouse were thrilled when China opted for their type of pressurized water reactors in the current contract bidding. In doing so, the Chinese ruled out rival technology such as GE's boiling water reactors and the heavy water plants sold by Atomic Energy of Canada, two of which are already operating in China. GE and AEC say they hope to win over the Chinese in future plant orders. "We have been asking if we can bid, but unfortunately they want pressurized water reactors," says Andy White, president & CEO of GE Energy's Wilmington (N.C.)-based nuclear business. "China should move to a two-technology model, like other countries."

Yet Beijing is extracting a hefty concession from the bidders by insisting on massive transfers of nuclear knowhow to local partners. Both Areva and Westinghouse have committed to sharing their technology with the Chinese to clinch deals. China is following a well-worn path: Japan, South Korea, and even France used technology provided by GE and Westinghouse to build their own nuclear industries. "If they are interested in becoming totally self-sufficient, we will help them do so," says CEO Tritch. "We are always inventing better technology." The pressurized water reactor Westinghouse wants to sell to China is its new AP1000, which the company advertises as much safer than the 1970s-era reactors that dominate in China and elsewhere.

Self-sufficiency has good resale value.

American free enterprise is seeding nuclear designs all over the world with our government's help.

Of Course, There is No Connection

For your consideration, the profiles of the playahs at Blackwater:

ERIK PRINCE, 37, Blackwater’s founder and chairman, has deep roots in conservative Republican politics in Michigan.

His father, Edgar Prince, turned a small die-cast shop in Holland, Mich., into a major auto parts supplier with a specialty product: a windshield visor with a lighted mirror. After his death in 1995, the company was sold for $1.4 billion. Edgar Prince was a confidant and financial backer of Gary Bauer, a conservative activist and onetime presidential candidate.

Erik Prince’s sister Betsy, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, is married to Dick DeVos, billionaire son of the founder of marketing giant Amway and this year’s likely Republican candidate for governor of Michigan.

Erik Prince went to private schools in Michigan, earned his pilot’s license at 17 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy. He later joined the Navy and was deployed with a SEAL team.

Prince was living in Virginia Beach when he founded Blackwater in 1996. He now runs the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, from an office in McLean, Va.

His first wife, Joan, died of cancer in 2003. He has since remarried, and has six children.

Prince is a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.

Since 1998, he has made nearly $200,000 in contributions to Republican committees and candidates, including President Bush and indicted former House leader Tom DeLay, according to Federal Election Commission records.

GARY JACKSON, 49, Blackwater’s president, has been with the company almost from the beginning. Like Prince, he is a former SEAL, having retired as a warrant officer after 23 years in the Navy.

He is the senior executive at Blackwater’s 7,000-acre headquarters and training compound in Moyock.

Jackson makes no secret of his political leanings. As editor of Blackwater’s weekly electronic newsletter, he posted this headline at the top of the edition after the November 2004 presidential election: BUSH WINS; FOUR MORE YEARS!! HOOYAH!

He has made $9,000 in contributions to President Bush and Republican congressional candidates since 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. Among the recipients of his donations were DeLay; Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

COFER BLACK, 56, joined Blackwater in February 2005 as vice chairman after three decades in the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.

He was the CIA’s director of counterterrorism when al-Qaida hijackers struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

In congressional testimony in 2002, Black said the CIA thwarted plans by Osama bin Laden to kill Black when he was stationed in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1995.

In his book “Bush at War,” Bob Woodward said Black gave these marching orders to an undercover agent he dispatched to Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks: “Get bin Laden, find him. I want his head in a box.”

According to a United Press International report, Black was incensed when U.S. and Afghan forces failed to catch bin Laden at Tora Bora and complained about it anonymously in The Washington Post, prompting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to derail his CIA career. Black has denied that he was forced out of the agency.

In 2002 Black moved to the State Department, where one of his duties was managing security for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. In 2003, Blackwater won a contract to train security teams for the games.

Company officials say there was no connection.

JOSEPH SCHMITZ, 49, became chief operating officer and general counsel of the Prince Group in September 2005 after a stint as inspector general at the Defense Department.

Schmitz was the senior Pentagon official responsible for investigating waste, fraud and abuse. Now he faces a congressional inquiry into accusations that he quashed two criminal investigations of senior Bush administration officials. The inquiry is continuing, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Schmitz was a special assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration. He was awarded the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service on his retirement from the Pentagon.

Schmitz’s father, John G. Schmitz, was a two-term Republican congressman from California and a prominent member of the John Birch Society, an ultra-conservative group that flowered during the Cold War. He ran for president in 1972 as the candidate of the American Independent Party after its founder, George Wallace, was paralyzed by a would-be assassin.

John Schmitz’s political career ended with the revelation that he had a mistress who bore two of his children. He then moved to Washington, where he bought a house once owned by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Joseph Schmitz’s sister, Mary Kay LeTourneau, also became embroiled in a scandal. As a married teacher in Washington state, she went to prison after being convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student with whom she ultimately had two children. The two have since married.


Prince Group (Parent company)

Blackwater divisions

Blackwater Training Center -- Firearms and tactical training

Blackwater Target Systems -- Manufacturing and sales

Blackwater Security Consulting -- Security services

Blackwater Canine -- Explosives-detecting dogs

Raven Development Group -- Construction

Blackwater Armor -- Armored personnel carriers

Blackwater Airships -- Blimps

Affiliated companies

Presidential Airways -- Aviation

Greystone -- International security services

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ownership Society

Government Accountability Office investigators posing as private citizens were able to buy sensitive excess military equipment from a Department of Defense logistics agency, a GAO report obtained by NBC News shows.

The equipment included two launcher mounts for shoulder-fired guided missiles, two guided missile radar test sets, ceramic body armor inserts currently used by deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a digital signal converter used in naval surveillance, an all-band antenna used to track aircraft and 12 digital microcircuits used in F-14 fighter aircraft.

GAO identified at least 79 buyers of 2,669 sensitive items between November 2005 and June 2006...

How can you get ready for the Second Coming without the right ordinance?

* * *

Those family issues I mumbled about last week are coming to the fore, and I have to drive to Nashville to see my dying father.

Score another one for the Marlborough Man.

You may not read my rambling words here again until next week.

Don't let Condi Rice start World War III without me!

Leather girls are always so impetuous.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Disgraceful Behavior

HARTFORD, Conn. - Suddenly trailing in the polls, Democratic Sen.
Joe Lieberman is enlisting the help of former
President Clinton, the man he criticized in 1998 for "disgraceful behavior" in a sex scandal with a White House intern.

Clinton and Lieberman are scheduled to campaign together in Connecticut on Monday as the three-term lawmaker struggles against challenger Ned Lamont, a multimillionaire businessman who has questioned his rival's Democratic credentials and assailed his support for the Iraq war.

A new poll released Thursday showed that Lieberman has lost ground to Lamont and is narrowly trailing him for the first time in their race. Lamont had support from 51 percent and Lieberman from 47 percent of likely Democratic voters in the latest Quinnipiac University poll — a slight Lamont lead given the survey's error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points...

Clinton's weakness contributes to the fact that the DINOcrats are the sham opposition party they are today.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Undead Surveillance

Judge Denies Government and AT&T Motions to Dismiss NSA Case

A federal judge in San Francisco has rejected the Bush administration's bid to kill the EFF's class action lawsuit alleging that AT&T is cooperating in an illegal NSA surveillance program that monitors Americans' internet activities.

In a 72-page written decision (.pdf) issued Thursday, U.S. District Court chief judge Vaughn Walker rejected the government's argument that merely allowing the case to proceed would cause critical harm to U.S. national security -- a ruling that marks a significant victory for EFF, and puts a rare limitation on the reach of the president's "state secrets privilege" to sweep alleged illegal government activities under the cloak of national security...

The court also grazed the issue of whether the attorney general gave AT&T a letter certifying that the surveillance program complied with U.S. law. Such a letter would add another legal hurdle for EFF to clear before holding AT&T accountable.

The government claimed that the existence of non-existence of such a letter is itself a national security secret. But citing the government's disclosures about its surveillance operations, the judge said the AT&T should produce the letter, if it has one...

The court deferred to the government on one matter: the judge ordered that EFF can't compel AT&T to disclose whether or not the telecom participated in a separate program, first reported by USA Today, in which the NSA allegedly examines Americans' phone records without a warrant.

Walker also rejected AT&T's motion to dismiss. Among other things, the company claimed it had immunity from the law when acting on the request of the executive branch, citing its cooperation in President Nixon's wiretapping of political enemies.

The case, or portions of it, will likely be suspended while the government appeals.

AT&T co-operation with Tricky Dicky is used by it as a justification for helping Big Time Dick give us the weenie.

Let's get this straight: AT&T is supposed to co-operate if the government gave it legal documentation waiving it of responsibility for an illegal act, but can't be compelled to disclose if it did, or if in fact it co-operated... although it has in the past.

You realize, of course, AT&T's dirty deeds and corporate malice could live a long, long time.

Sound familiar?

Thanks to Defense Tech for the link, and MJS for the image.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Aluminum Tubes! Gas Centrifuges! and Trailers! Oh My!

Experts challenge White House line on Iran's influence
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
Updated: 1:12 a.m. ET July 18, 2006

From the moment last Wednesday when Hizbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers, the Bush administration immediately held Iran and Syria responsible.

The White House mounted a systematic campaign on the US airwaves to get that message across while seeking to put pressure on the G8 summit to unite in confronting those two governments.

That it has become the received wisdom in the US that Iran was directing Hizbollah to deflect international pressure on Tehran's nuclear programme, is testimony to the Bush administration's ability to dominate the discourse in the mainstream media. The crisis has also demonstrated how it can rely on the support of the US foreign policy establishment – Democrat and Republican – when it comes to matters of vital national interest to the US and Israel.

Challenging these assertions, Iranian analysts and activists in the US – both those for and against the Iranian theocracy – are warning that such simplified arguments may not only be completely erroneous, but will also complicate the process of calming down the crisis while raising the chances of a direct conflict between Iran and the US.

Akbar Ganji, Iran's most prominent dissident who recently emerged from six years in prison, began a symbolic hunger strike outside the UN headquarters in New York at the weekend to press for the release of all political prisoners in Iran. But he also said his mission to the US was to prevent the spread of war.

"There are two voices in this – one is the voice of warmongers, terrorists and fundamentalists. The other is the voice of pacifists, pro-democracy activists and freedom-seekers," he told the FT.

"Unfortunately, the Christian-Jewish-Islamic fundamentalists are stirring up this situation and setting [Lebanon] ablaze," he said. "They should all be isolated."

Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former reformist member of the Iranian parliament who was barred from seeking re-election by hardliners in 2004, said Iran knew that direct confrontation between Hizbollah and Israel would not benefit Hizbollah.

"For this reason I don't think Iran is provoking this situation or wants it to be intensified . . . Iran has taken a pragmatic approach in its foreign policy and does not want to get into a serious confrontation with Israel," argued Ms Haghighatjoo, a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

Iran apparently has Chinese Sidewinder missiles alright, but doesn't have the capability to install them with the kind of robotic brains it takes to find a moving ship at sea 40 miles away. If it did have the capability to make a UAV-cruise missile, it might target more strategic targets. Like the Knesset, for instance.

Only one missile like this has been fired.

The official explanation currently floating is that it wasn't a drone; it was a radar-guided Sidewinder.

...The missile that hit the Hanit was a C-802, an Iranian-made variant of a stealthy, turbojet-powered, Chinese weapon. It's "considered along with the US 'Harpoon' as among the best anti-ship missiles" in the world, GlobalSecurity.org says.

"Iran began buying dozens of those sophisticated antiship missiles from the Chinese during the 1990’s," the Times notes. "Until Friday, however, Western intelligence services did not know that Iran had managed to ship C-802 missiles to Hezbollah."

Now that the Israelis know, it's influencing their choice of targets to hit. The C-802 was most likely "fired it from a truck-mounted launcher cued by a coastal radar installation," Situational Awareness says. So "Israel has stepped up its attacks against coastal radar sites, as any sort of surface-search set would be able to provide data for the initial launch.

"After launch, the missile takes care of itself with its own inertial guidance system and onboard radar seeker. Since the launchers are mobile, the trucks carrying them could scoot after firing. And we all know how notoriously difficult it can be to locate mobile units, even when you have lots of reconnaissance assets."

Even Star Wars can't catch those perfidous missile launchers.

Most likely. Still Chinese built, from Iran or Syria. At least, that's what we're told it said on the label. Everybody knows.

Still, look at the silver (golden or even uranium) lining. Everybody knows where it came from. Just ask Pravda:

"Officials in both countries are just now learning the extent to which the militant group has succeeded in getting weapons from Iran and Syria."

Everybody knows. Except, perhaps, the real weapon being used here isn't from either Iran, or Syria, or some DynCorp Special Op lifting some special ordinance from an employer and selling it to further Darth Rumsfeld's Special Plans (and to make a tidy sum on the side). The real weapon is the strategy behind this tactic for the Jihadi side. Billmon again, himself noting some of the real experts:

Military analyst William S. Lind has posted his initial take on the Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah war and its potential significance, both for the Middle East and the future of warfare...

...Lind is generally recognized as the leading U.S. theorist of non-conventional, fourth generation war, and has recently been helping the Marine Corps rewrite its bible on the subject, the Small Wars Manual.
[Billmon has acknowledged an error on this point; read the addendum to the link. Apologies!]

Lind describes this as a watershed moment in the history of war:

"For the first time, a non-state entity has gone to war with a state not by waging an insurgency against a state invader, but across an international boundary. Again we see how those who define 4GW simply as insurgency are looking at only a small part of the picture."

Given that Israel is unlikely to achieve its strategic objectives (the destruction of Hamas and Hezbollah). Lind suggests the result is likely to be an unprecedented defeat for the Jewish state, with implications that will be felt worldwide:

"A powerful state will have suffered a new kind of defeat, again, a defeat across at least one international boundary and maybe two, depending on how one defines Gaza’s border. The balance between states and 4GW forces will be altered world-wide, and not to a trivial degree."

Lind is almost certainly correct about Israel's inability to deal its antagonists a decisive blow. Already, Israeli generals are talking in terms of "degrading" Hezbollah's capabilities by this or that percentage over this or that time frame, which is usually a tip off that the high command and/or its political masters don't have a clue whether they're achieving their objective or not -- and probably didn't even have a clear objective going in...

The key question, of course, is whether Israel will then proceed to fail upwards -- turning its frustrating cat and mouse game with Hezbollah into a more satisfying, if equally indecisive, air war against Syria or Iran. Lind paints the possible results of a war with Iran in apocalyptic terms, although more for the first 50 states than for the 51st:

'If Israel does attack Iran, the “summer of 1914” analogy may play itself out, catastrophically for the United States. As I have warned many times, war with Iran (Iran has publicly stated it would regard an Israeli attack as an attack by the U.S. also) could easily cost America the army it now has deployed in Iraq. It would almost certainly send shock waves through an already fragile world economy, potentially bringing that house of cards down. A Bush administration that has sneered at “stability” could find out just how high the price of instability can be.'

It's hard to argue with that -- not when you consider that whatever Hezbollah has managed to do the Israeli Navy and the Egyptian merchant fleet is probably less than 10% of what a hostile Iran could do to the tanker fleet in the Persian Gulf.

Assuming, of course, the continued goal is American dominance, and whether or not someone's real goal is to keep the oil in the ground and the prices through the roof.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chickenhawk Phoenix Rising

...Is the Israeli offensive designed as a calculated effort to catapult the hard-right, neoconservative ideologues back to power in Washington?

...First, Israel’s actions in no way can be seen as a legitimate response to the small-scale attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead, what Israel has done has used the pretext of those pin-prick attacks—a couple of border raids and a handful of errant rockets—to launch a strategic attack whose goals are to crush Hamas and the remaining institutions of Palestinian self-rule and decapitate and destroy Hezbollah politically and militarily in Lebanon.

Second, it’s clear that Israel would never have launched this war without having made the calculation that it would win the support of the United States. The rest of the world is solidly aligned against Israel’s outrageously disproportionate attacks, but none of that matters. No diplomatic mission from the feeble United Nations, no angry statements from the Arab League, no fulminations from Western Europe will deter Israel...

Third, by invading and bombing Lebanon and acting brutally to crush the Palestinian Authority, Israel has created a unified field theory of the Middle East’s crises, uniting the escalating world showdown with Iran, the unraveling civil war in Iraq, the crisis over Syria’s role in Lebanon, and the Arab-Israeli conflict itself into one big tangle.

True enough, but the more you unify the field, the stranger the outliers get. For one thing, although the average Israeli on the street is ducking and covering and shooting when he or she is shot at, the average Israeli on the street is not politically naive. Hence, in their news media (as Billmon points out), you can find opinions like this:

"We left Gaza and they are firing Qassams" - there is no more precise a formulation of the prevailing view about the current round of the conflict. "They started," will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue, for example, that a few hours before the first Qassam fell on the school in Ashkelon, causing no damage, Israel sowed destruction at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Israel is causing electricity blackouts, laying sieges, bombing and shelling, assassinating and imprisoning, killing and wounding civilians, including children and babies, in horrifying numbers, but "they started."

They are also "breaking the rules" laid down by Israel: We are allowed to bomb anything we want and they are not allowed to launch Qassams. When they fire a Qassam at Ashkelon, that's an "escalation of the conflict," and when we bomb a university and a school, it's perfectly alright. Why? Because they started. That's why the majority thinks that all the justice is on our side. Like in a schoolyard fight, the argument about who started is Israel's winning moral argument to justify every injustice.

So, who really did start? And have we "left Gaza?"

Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.

What could otherwise have been expected? That Israel would unilaterally withdraw, brutally and outrageously ignoring the Palestinians and their needs, and that they would silently bear their bitter fate and would not continue to fight for their liberty, livelihood and dignity? We promised a safe passage to the West Bank and didn't keep the promise. We promised to free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it. We could have withdrawn from Gaza through negotiations and coordination, while strengthening the existing Palestinian leadership, but we refused to do so. And now, we complain about "a lack of leadership?" We did everything we could to undermine their society and leadership, making sure as much as possible that the disengagement would not be a new chapter in our relationship with the neighboring nation, and now we are amazed by the violence and hatred that we sowed with our own hands...

Billmon also notes that things are getting as interesting among the Jihadis as among the Crusaders:

...the sudden eruption of all out hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel -- complete with TV footage of Iranian-made missiles falling on Jewish heads -- has left Al Qaeda and its sympathizers between a religious rock and an ideological hard place.

The dilemma, of course, is who to treat as the bigger enemy: the God-cursed Shi'a schismatics, or the bloodsucking Crusader/Zionist entity? And if they're both the sworn agents of Satan, why the hell are they fighting each other? What's an honest Takfiri supposed to think?

Sheikh al-Ali never really addresses the latter question. He does, however, answer the first one:

'The "Shari’a position" then, as the sheikh writes, maintains that Palestine is Islam’s problem, as Muslims should not be deceived by Iran taking it as its own. Iran, he believes, is more dangerous than the "Crusader/Zionist" enemy.'

All righty then. This implies that all good Sunnis (which in the Takfiri user's guide means "the only good Muslims") should be rooting for the planes with the stars of David on their tails as they drop their payloads over south Beruit...

Naturally, this is where I start to get a little suspicious of Sheikh al-Ali's jihadist bona fides. Putting hatred of the partisans of Ali ahead of the war against the Crusader/Zionists may or may not be official Al Qaeda doctrine, but it definitely is consistent with the policy preferences of the leading U.S.-backed Sunni regimes in the region, as seen in this public statement last week from the his Royal Highness Abdullah al-Saud, Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques:

'A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements inside [Lebanon] and those behind them without recourse to the legal authorities and consulting and co-ordinating with Arab nations. These elements should bear the responsibility for their irresponsible actions and they alone should end the crisis they have created.'

When the Saudi government is handing out press releases that could have been written by the Israeli Minister of Information (except, of course, for the part about "legitimate resistance") you know the world has been turned upside down.

No more so than when "Hezbollah" drones missiles knock out an Israeli battle cruiser 40 miles out to sea. Let me get that straight: the Iranians built that? At their Northrop-Grumman or Lockheed plant?

Or did they just sub-contract out to DynCorp?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Death Squads by Disney

Spocko's Brain has been doing a great job pulling the rug out from under an Anne Coulter wanna-bee at a main$tream station in San Francisco owned by Mickey Mouse.

I too bow in your general direction, o Vulcan master.

My posting is going to be light for awhile: family health issues may require me away from the internet for a few days.

Don't give the Magic Kingdom an even break while I'm gone!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Electoral Strategery of the Reckless and Demented

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so. In an interview in Bellevue this morning Gingrich said Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.

"We need to have the militancy that says 'We're not going to lose a city,' " Gingrich said. He talks about the need to recognize World War III as important for military strategy and political strategy.

Gingrich said he is "very worried" about Republicans facing fall elections and says the party must have the "nerve" to nationalize the elections and make the 2006 campaigns about a liberal Democratic agenda rather than about President Bush's record...

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and "connect all the dots" for Americans.

He said the reluctance to put those pieces together and see one global conflict is hurting America's interests. He said people, including some in the Bush Administration, who urge a restrained response from Israel are wrong "because they haven't crossed the bridge of realizing this is a war."

"This is World War III," Gingrich said. And once that's accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away:

"Israel wouldn't leave southern Lebanon as long as there was a single missile there. I would go in and clean them all out and I would announce that any Iranian airplane trying to bring missiles to re-supply them would be shot down. This idea that we have this one-sided war where the other team gets to plan how to kill us and we get to talk, is nuts."

There is a public relations value, too. Gingrich said that public opinion can change "the minute you use the language" of World War III. The message then, he said, is "'OK, if we're in the third world war, which side do you think should win?"

Certainly not your side, Newt. Because the Land of the Brave and Home of the Free is not the kind of country a lying psychopath like you would defend. Anyone who wants to create a World War to bolster his party's electoral chances belongs far, far away from the seat of power.

Of course, it is likely Dear Leader or his twin puppet masters Darth Cheney and Big Time Dick have precisely this idea, too.

Timebomb of a different color

Jomama points to this gem in the Daily Telegraph (U.K.):

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''...

It's always fun to note how things like this are always reported as a "pensions and welfare timebomb" never a "cost-of-Imperial-aspirations and unchecked-dependency-on-fossil-fuels timebomb" by the bankers.

But jomama's right, the main$tream media mentioned nothing of it, although the paper is mentioned here by the St. Louis Fed Review. You can get a link to a .pdf version of the paper here.

I guess the bankruptcy of the United States just isn't newsworthy enough to go further than a trade journal... unless you live in any other country.

I wonder who the repo man will be?

Weenie Dogs of War

With psychopaths like William Kristol claiming to be real liberals (because even paleocons know they're crazy) who want to spread the benefits of corporate dinocracy by force of arms, and the Middle East heating up with every day November draws closer, two excellent analyses come to mind.

The first is by that cautious pessimist:

Israel's war upon Lebanon would be a disproportionate response if Israel were actually responding to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers. It isn't, of course. (If it were, we may have seen a limited cross-border incursion that resembled a rescue mission, rather than these blunt-force deep attacks on Lebanese infrastructure.) Rather the war, like most wars of aggression, is a response to the pathological necessities of the aggressor's ideology.

America's Countdown: Tehran has been stuck at 20 minutes and holding for a couple of months now, derailed by Iran's rational posture regarding its nuclear ambitions and the ongoing thwarting of anything approaching even the Bush administration's benchmark for a casus belli. Israel's hawks, by smashing in the back door, are baiting Iran to action, which would goad the US to crash through the front. Israeli military claims, trumpeted by FoxNews, that the Haifa rockets were fired by Iranian Guard units, and the absurd suggestion that Hezbollah intends to transport their captured soldiers to Iran, say forcefully that this isn't about Lebanon, though for now it will be mostly the Lebanese who perish. (Interestingly, The Jerusualem Post noted yesterday that "Before the attack on Haifa, CNN reported that the US Navy ordered one of their ships that was docked at the Haifa Bay to be moved to a safer location." Though the story has since been removed.)

This is a war crime of opportunity, calculated to at last draw out Iran and draw in American arms to finish what they began in Iraq. Madness is the method, and Death was never going to take a holiday this summer...

As always, the comments at Jeff's site are a mixture of total bullshit disinformation and penetrating analyses. I particularly like the one about the Barbara P.

The other more mainstream progressive analysis to note is Arthur Silber's:

Some people seem to think I'm suggesting that there is a conspiracy of some kind, involving those in the U.S. and in Israel who hope to intentionally provoke a broader regional war. My repeated observation that "it's all about Iran" appears to have played a large part in this view of my remarks. I have never put much store in conspiracy thinking of any kind. My approach is the Occam's Razor one: to put it informally, in the absence of other factors and other evidence, the simplest explanation is the right one. And "conspiracy" is a very odd word to use in this context. The neocons and their supporters have announced their plans explicitly for many years. If this is a conspiracy, it's one conducted before the entire world, and utilizing one of the biggest PR campaigns of all time.

In recent days, we have had several high profile examples of these announcements once again -- but I note that identical remarks stretch back to the 1990s. From the other day, here is Michael Ledeen:
"No one should have any lingering doubts about what’s going on in the Middle East. It’s war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted "insurgency" in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy, the revolutionary Islamic fascist state that declared war on us 27 years ago and has yet to be held accountable.
"It is very good news that the White House immediately denounced Iran and Syria, just as Ambassador Khalilzad had yesterday tagged the terrorist Siamese twins as sponsors of terrorism in Iraq.
"...The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus, and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it."

Here is Andrew Sullivan:
"It's hard to avoid the conclusion from the fast-changing events in the Middle East that we are approaching a wider conflagration. The Maliki government is hanging by a thread as Casey begs for more troops for Baghdad. Only three years too late. Iran's success in infiltrating and controlling a large chunk of Iraq has now emboldened the mullahs not merely to press ahead with nuclear weapons but also to attack Israel via Hezbollah. This has always been a regional conflict, with Iran and Syria as dangerous than Saddam ever was. The Middle East has exploded before, of course. But not with 130,000 American troops stationed in the heart of it."

And here is William Kristol, in an article titled, "It's Our War":
"What's happening in the Middle East, then, isn't just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What's happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West--but is India part of the West? Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.
"...No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini's claim for leadership of militant Islam--and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.
" ...The war against radical Islamism is likely to be a long one. Radical Islamism isn't going away anytime soon. But it will make a big difference how strong the state sponsors, harborers, and financiers of radical Islamism are. Thus, our focus should be less on Hamas and Hezbollah, and more on their paymasters and real commanders--Syria and Iran. And our focus should be not only on the regional war in the Middle East, but also on the global struggle against radical Islamism.
"...The right response is renewed strength--in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions--and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

Given these kinds of views and this sort of perspective, all of which are shared by some of the key people in the Bush administration (most notably in the Cheney wing), it isn't necessary for Israel and the U.S. to concoct or arrange stories...

It's amazing and unsettling when a raving (but interesting) conspiracy theorist like Jeff Wells hits the nail squarely on the head. In comparing and contrasting the views of Silber and Wells, let me note that once again Shystee's model of emergent conspiracy works fine here, too.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The DINOcrat most loved by Reptilican CEOs

Lookit who likes Joe Lieberman!

General Dynamics
Cisco Systems
Citigroup Property
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Southwest Airlines
People's Bank
ING US Financial Services
Loew's Hotels
Chiquita Brands

And others too, you can find here.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Just read it all.

Thanks again to Atrios for the link.

Tied up nicely

(AP) - Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli didn't suffer fools gladly. Fond of calling colleagues' work "wrong" or "completely wrong," he saved his worst epithet for work so sloppy and speculative it is "not even wrong."

That's how mathematician Peter Woit of Columbia University describes string theory. In his book, "Not Even Wrong," published in the U.K. this month and due in the U.S. in September, he calls the theory "a disaster for physics."

A year or two ago, that would have been a fringe opinion, motivated by sour grapes over not sitting at physics' equivalent of the cool kids' table. But now, after two decades in which string theory has been the doyenne of best-seller lists and the dominant paradigm in particle physics, Mr. Woit has company.

"When it comes to extending our knowledge of the laws of nature, we have made no real headway" in 30 years, writes physicist Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, in his book, "The Trouble with Physics," also due in September. "It's called hitting the wall."

He blames string theory for this "crisis in particle physics," the branch of physics that tries to explain the most fundamental forces and building blocks of the world.

String theory, which took off in 1984, posits that elementary particles such as electrons are not points, as standard physics had it. They are, instead, vibrations of one-dimensional strings 1/100 billion billionth the size of an atomic nucleus. Different vibrations supposedly produce all the subatomic particles from quarks to gluons. Oh, and strings exist in a space of 10, or maybe 11, dimensions. No one knows exactly what or where the extra dimensions are, but assuming their existence makes the math work.

String theory, proponents said, could reconcile quantum mechanics (the physics of subatomic particles) and gravity, the longest-distance force in the universe. That impressed particle physicists no end. In the 1980s, most jumped on the string bandwagon and since then, stringsters have written thousands of papers.

But one thing they haven't done is coax a single prediction from their theory. In fact, "theory" is a misnomer, since unlike general relativity theory or quantum theory, string theory is not a concise set of solvable equations describing the behavior of the physical world. It's more of an idea or a framework.

Partly as a result, string theory "makes no new predictions that are testable by current, or even currently conceivable, experiments," writes Prof. Smolin. "The few clean predictions it does make have already been made by other" theories.

Worse, the equations of string theory have myriad solutions, an extreme version of how the algebraic equation X2 4 has two solutions (2 and -2). The solutions arise from the fact that there are so many ways to "compactify" its extra dimensions, to roll them up so you get the three spatial dimensions of the real world. With more than 10 raised to 500th power (1 followed by 500 zeros) ways to compactify, there are that many possible universes...

It's a great way to keep bright minds spinning their wheels and not actually doing anything like messing up their bubble in the multiverse, isn't it?

Perhaps they'd best realize that no matter where you compactify, there you are.

Thank jomama.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whipping Girl

Somebody should tell the Big Dog crocodiles smile too.

Arianna picks up on the delusion at the top of the DLC. Only part of it's included here. The whole post, with links, makes for very good reading.

Two things happened in the last few days that could have a lasting effect on the future direction -- and electoral success -- of the Democratic Party. One drew a ton of attention; the other, despite being far more significant, somehow fell through the mainstream media cracks.

The headline grabber was, of course, Joe "Greater Loyalties" Lieberman filing papers to form a new party called Connecticut for Lieberman, just in case this whole letting-Democratic-primary-voters-decide thing doesn't work out in August...

Lieberman's desperate move only serves to highlight what went underreported: Bill Clinton saying on Friday that Democrats (username: noreply@huffingtonpost.com/pass: huffpo) "ought to be whipped if we allow our differences over what to do now over Iraq divide us." Is he serious? He makes it sound as if the debate over the war is petty squabbling on the level of whether one should wear white after Labor Day...

If you want a better understanding of the importance of Democratic differences over the war, just look at what happened in 1968. The presidential campaign was all about the battle over how to deal with Vietnam. In the Democratic primaries, first Eugene McCarthy and then Bobby Kennedy took courageous stands against LBJ's prosecution of the war, eventually leading Johnson to announce he would not seek re-election and causing a massive rift in the party. Before RFK was gunned down following his victory in the California primary, the race was shaping up to be a showdown between the anti-war Kennedy and Vice President Humphrey, who was standing behind Johnson's handling of Vietnam.

Can you imagine someone in 1968 telling Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey that they "ought to be whipped" for fighting over their views on Vietnam?

In the end, Kennedy was assassinated, and Humphrey (backed by the party bosses) prevailed over McCarthy to win the nomination. In the general election campaign against Nixon, Humphrey continued to defend the war, alienating the Democratic base and prompting anti-war protests at almost all of his campaign appearances. Five weeks before the election, trailing Nixon badly in the polls, Humphrey finally made a speech distancing himself from Johnson and calling for an end to the U.S. bombing in Vietnam. The move turned his campaign around -- but not in time to overtake Nixon. There is speculation that if Humphrey had come out against the bombing even one week earlier, he might have prevailed.

So, 40 years later, the question becomes: will Hillary be the Humphrey of 2008?

Quite likely, if her delusions keep up:

...Elaborating on how Hillary can overcome voter uncertainty by, as the story puts it, reintroducing her values and biography to a national electorate," the anonymous advisor says: "She will define herself, and we have the money to do it.

People have to get to know her, know that she was once a Republican, that she's a big Methodist... That will happen."

So that's the winning strategy for 2008? Run Hillary as a Goldwater girl and -- wait for it -- "a big Methodist"?

That's what happens when the Big Party bucks come from Soros and therefore the Carlyle Group... who are also data mining the Democrats, too.

Just in case the NSA boys missed anything.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Green Zoning Comes On Home to You

Molly Ivins yesterday:

...Anyone who doesn’t think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers—this is Bush country, where a rising tide lifts all yachts.

According to the current issue of Mother Jones:

-- One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.

-- Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has risen steadily. Now, 13 percent—37 million Americans—are officially poor.

-- Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those making $1 million are saved $42,700.

-- In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared those who point out such statistics as the one above to Adolph Hitler (surely he meant Stalin?).

-- Bush has diverted $750 million to “healthy marriages” by shifting funds from social services, mostly childcare.

-- Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50 percent.

A series of related stats—starting with the news that two out of three new jobs are in the suburbs—shows how the poor are further disadvantaged in the job hunt by lack of public or private transportation.

Meanwhile, for those who have been following the collapse of the pension system, please note a series in The Wall Street Journal by Ellen Schultz taking a hard look at executive pension obligations:

-- “Benefits for executives now account for a significant share of pension obligations in the United States, an average of 8 percent (of large companies). Sometimes a company’s obligation for a single executive’s pension approaches $100 million.”

-- “These liabilities are largely hidden, because corporations don’t distinguish them from overall pension obligations in their federal financial findings.”

-- “As a result, the savings that companies make by curtailing pensions of regular retirees—which have totaled billions of dollars in recent years—can mask a rising cost of benefits for executives.”

-- “Executive pensions, even when they won’t be paid until years from now, drag down the earnings today. And they do so in a way that’s disproportionate to their size, because they aren’t funded with dedicated assets.”

It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism—it will be destroyed by its own internal greed...

Maybe not. As Krugman notes, the well-heeled Masters of the Universe seem to be flocking back towards the economic centers in greater numbers. ...What's left is an urban economy that offers a mix of very highly paid financial jobs and low-wage service jobs, with relatively little in the middle. Economic disparities in New York, as in the United States as a whole, are wider than they have been since the 1920's...

Great disparities in income are leading to the predictable. AmericaBlog observes...kind of senseless crimes - and I mean senseless in the sense that the crimes are only about violence, they're not about robbery or vengeance or anything else, just pure violence - have been building over the past several years. But over the past year or so, it's built to a crescendo of violence. A New York Times reporter is attacked and murdered simply walking near his home - why? Who knows. A friend of my friend Cate is brutally murdered while walking his dog, they don't even take his wallet - why? Who knows. A series of women are attacked, violently, just a block from house and it gets so bad that the police email the neighborhood to warn us - the woman are simply being beaten up on the street. Just a month ago, a friend of mine who is 6 foot 5 inches tall - yeah, he's THAT big - and 24 years old, gets jumped by 3 or 4 guys who seemingly just wanted to beat the crap out of him, no attempted robberty, nothing. And all of these happened in "nice" neighborhoods where yuppies pay lots and lots of money for new condos.

And oh yeah, we recently had a series of attacks on the National Mall, a place where nobody ever gets attacked.

Then we have this past weekend. A British aspiring politico is walking his girlfriend home in Georgetown - quite possibly the most expensive and ritziest part of DC - and several guys walk up to them, slit the boyfriend's throat (he dies) and then drag the girlfriend to the alley to rape her. (To the cops' credit, they think they caught the guys who did this.)

This is Georgetown, folks. It's like getting murdered and raped in Beverly Hills...

Washington, DC, for all of its economic improvement over the past several years, is still a terribly dangerous city, and increasingly so over the past few years. The Chief of Police has no clue what to do about the problem, and honestly, he's loathe to admit there even is a problem, or even tell the truth when he does "admit" it...

It's a conspiracy of incompetence, or at best, indifference.

Before you go plopping down half a million dollars to live in some new condo in a neighborhood that was a ghetto just a year ago (and still really is), you might want to take a hard look through the newspapers. Even the best neighborhoods in DC are now seeing random rapes and murders, and our politicians are telling us this is quite "normal" for any big city (it hadn't been "normal" in my neighborhood for the past ten years or so that I recall). And the neighborhoods all the young well-off kids are moving in to make my neighborhood (which is nice, but still edgy), look like Bel Air.

DC has become "A Clockwork Orange." The rumors of it being crime-ridden are well deserved.

Economic Green Zones in our own cities and voters that are more equal than others are a great way to produce Iraqi-style resentment among the disenfranchised. But that's all part of the TheoCon New Feudalism. You can't have a protection racket without having to be protected from something.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about the future of the military but were afraid to ask.

Secret weapons? Wuzzat?

Why classify information when the idiots brag about it?

...FCS is On Schedule, On Cost and Executing to Plan. The FCS System Development and Demonstration program has been ongoing since May 2003. In July 2004, the Army identified and announced adjustments to strengthen the FCS program and simultaneously improve the Current Force through early delivery of selected FCS capabilities. The adjustments maintain the Army focus on FCS-equipped UA development and substantially reduce program risk. The adjustments to the FCS Program acquisition strategy fall into the primary categories:

* The five previously deferred FCS core systems: 1) UAV Class II, 2) UAV III, 3) Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) (Assault and Reconnaissance), 4) FCS Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle (FRMV) and 5) integration for the Intelligent Munitions System (IMS) have been fully funded and will be fielded with the first FCS-equipped UA, allowing UA fielding of the complete 18 + 1 FCS core systems to begin delivery to the Army in 2014.
* The SDD program was restructured into a series of integration phases (IPs) that will cyclically develop, build and test FCS components and systems. These IPs incorporate robust experimentation, evaluation, and technology maturation efforts to prove out revolutionary concepts, mature the architecture and components, and assist in Spin Out development.
* A series of Spin Out (SO) packages, associated with IPs, will begin in 2008 and continue every two years through 2014 to evaluate and insert FCS capability into the Modular Units of Action consisting of mixed current fleet systems. These Modular UAs will have enhanced capability over Current Force Units and become the stepping stones to full Future Force capability...

Here's ARV checking you out:

In case you haven't been keeping up, what's going on is probably the most successful part of Darth Rumsfeld's Pentagon black budget-open military budget shell game. It not only enriches the Bu$hCo crime syndicate, it creates useful hunter-killers too. The problem is, the ultimate design they're aiming for, isn't exactly Top Secret.

Although Dear Leader might actually claim it is if he sees those pics in The New York Pravda.

You can not make this up: a D.o'D. run by a crew of Imperial Storm Trooper wanna-bees trying with some success to create nightmares used by Hollywood to scare excite teenage boys for the last 60 years.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Always Insane

Semper fou
July 2, 2006
by James Alexander Thom

It’s more than half a century since I wore the green fatigues, but once a Marine, always a Marine.

Or, Semper Fi.

What’s a faithful old Marine to think about the news that a squad of Marines will be tried for the massacre of two dozen innocent Iraqis in a town called Haditha?

What I think about it is that I’m heartsick that it happened, and I’m mad as hell at the scheming fools who put those Marines and the Iraqi victims in that crazy situation.

“Crazy,” in French, is “fou.” In Scottish, “fou” means drunk.”

Semper Fou. That’s my revised Marine motto. Either fou is appropriate; I remember we got drunk any time we could. As for crazy, Let me just come out and say it:

To train a sane person to do what a Marine must do, you have to brainwash much of the sanity and the humanity out of him.

You must make him so obedient to authority that he’s willing to die on command.

You have to obliterate that key religious Commandment: Thou shalt not kill...

Now, thanks to the wizardry of our Crusader-in-Chief, those terrorists have moved their training camps to Iraq, where they’ve got our guys surrounded. The last George who managed a tactic that stupid was George Custer. (Unlike George W, Custer led the troops in, instead of sending them.)

After news of the Haditha massacre broke (that is, leaked out from its cover-up), Marine General Peter Pace demurred that it wasn’t Marine training that made those Marines murder those civilians.

Respectfully, general, the hell it wasn’t!

Put yourself in the boots of those Marines: There you are, trained to the eyeballs for the madness of war. Semper Fou, trapped in that trashed, gritty, Fort Apache burg in the desert. Most everybody in the country hates you for invading and wrecking their country, so you can’t stroll into town to flirt with Iraqi girls in a bar. But every few hours it’s your duty to go out among the hostiles and remind them who’s boss in their country: Donald Rumsfeld.

You know they don’t like that, so you’re expecting a blast or a bullet at every corner. It’s 114 degrees and you’re encased in heavy clothes and armor and loaded down with ammo and gear. You haven’t had a good night’s sleep in six months, and the damned Iraqis aren’t grateful for the great gift of Christian capitalist democracy you’re trying to bestow upon them.

You’re frustrated and scared and mad and your trigger finger is twitchy; this is the third tour of duty your unit has served in this mess, and you’re like a hot grenade with the pin pulled, and God help any hadji who messes with you and your buddies.

Then BAM! Your best friend becomes a one-legged, one-armed fountain of blood right before your eyes, and so you do what you’ve been trained to do – start killing everybody in sight who isn’t a Marine.

If you go berserk, that’s bad enough. If you go on killing methodically in a controlled act of vengeance, that’s a massacre, and you must be put on trial for murder...

Whether or not that squad of Marines goes on trial for murder, there’s another squad of Americans who should. Their names include Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Ledeen, Tenet, etc. Many of them make a big deal out of being Christian Soldiers, though they never were personally seen marching off to war. They calculated to start an unprovoked war, where real soldiers and Marines have to throw their own bodies and souls into the inferno.

Those high-placed connivers are the ones to put on trial. They’re responsible for the destruction of a country and the death of thousands, and for young American soldiers hitching along on prosthetic limbs or waking up quaking from traumatic nightmares...

While our best are being misused in a civil war they precipitated but don't understand, Avedon notes:

...The fight against terrorism is not being fought. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Bush is much closer to the bin Laden family than he is to ordinary Americans, but Bush is not fighting terrorism. The Republicans don't care about protecting our country from terrorism. They aren't merely "the gang that couldn't shoot straight," they are the gang that isn't even interested in the target.

The main$tream media won't touch that one, Avedon.

Why not? Because the main$tream is pretty much owned by the same people making money off of the endless war against Terra.

The other factor that stops them from connecting the dots that outline the administration's lack of a desire to resolve this war: once you realize the war isn't really being fought, it isn't far to the realization that the people we are fighting have been set up.

Then you're off on the slippery slope, observing facts you'd closed your eyes to since 2000. You move towards the position that Bu$hCo let 9-11 happen. Once there, you really begin to look at things differently.

If you keep looking, you finally begin to realize they made it happen. Being the bunglers they are, they couldn't realize the ramifications of their action. Nor could they completely control the emergent conspiracy that acted out on that day.

Commander Bunnypants had that deer-in-the-headlights look on 9-11 for a good reason. It's the look of a practiced criminal at the wheel of a getaway car with bad brakes and a large bag of cash in the back. After all, skyscapers fell that hadn't even been hit by airplanes.

So basically there's no profit for Cheneyburton-Bu$hCo in observing that the target isn't what they're shooting at. Gasoline will soon be $100 a barrel, and business is booming.

Literally. Semper fou, Mr. Thom. Always crazy.