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

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ron Paul, Closet John Bircher, and Incentives to Success

Or so it would seem.

The whole thread is worth cruising through.

Jeff Wells doesn't like him much, either. And as free-wheeling as that post is, it's worth sifting through, too.

I particularly like the ""...oversold attribute of the Cheney-Bush years."

Quoting the Rolling Pravda's "Great Iraq Swindle":

It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government.... It's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too....

What happened in Iraq went beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even. This was about the business of government being corrupted by the profit motive to such an extraordinary degree that now we all have to wonder how we will ever be able to depend on the state to do its job in the future. If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where's the incentive to deliver success?

Good grief, haven't you figured it out? The Night of the Living Dead has been the greatest success the Company's ever had.

Night of the Living Dead

Think you know Iraq? Can you speak Arabic? Juan Cole can, and has this to say about the Surge- and what is surging in Iraq:

...I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too.

The average number of Iraqis killed in 2007 per day exceeds those killed in 2006. Independent counts by news organizations do not agree with Pentagon estimates about drops in civilian deaths over-all. Nation-wide attacks in June reached a daily all-time high of 177.5. True, violence in Baghdad has been wrestled back down to the levels of summer, 2006 (hint: it wasn't paradise), but violence levels are up in the rest of the country. If you compare each month in 2006 with each month in 2007 with regard to US military deaths, the 2007 picture is dreadful.

I saw on CNN this smarmy Bush administration official come and and say that US troop deaths had fallen because of the surge, which is why we should support it. Just read the following chart bottom to top and compare 2006 month by month to 2007. US troop deaths haven't fallen. They are way up. Besides, they would be zero if the US were not occupying Iraq militarily, so if we should support a policy that leads to fewer troop deaths, that is the better policy...

...how brain dead do the Bushies think we are, peddling this horse manure that US troop deaths have fallen? (There are always seasonal variations because in the summer it is 120 F. in the shade and guerrillas are too heat-exhausted to fight; but the summer 2007 numbers are much greater than those for summer 2006; that isn't progress.) And why does our corporate media keep repeating this Goebbels-like propaganda? Do we really live in an Orwellian state?

Kevin Drum is kind enough to plot his chart for him:

Let me answer your question, Dr. Cole. Yes, Orwellian by way of Phillip K. Dick.

Just Like September 10th Thinking

One of the big concerns of people who think Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton either Let It Happen or Made It Happen on September 11, 2001 concerns the movement of billions of dollars of money on September 10th, insulating many Company associated people from harm.

Well, it's happening again.

A comment in Juan Cole's post yesterday concerning the Cheneyburton maneuvering to Get Their Iran On in September:

Someone knows something big is going to happen by September 21, 2007. It could be anything that is related to either serious financial decline, China dropping the U.S. Dollar or a big military action. This warning is for real and it is based on the fact that some entity had taken huge 4.7 Billion Dollars CALLS on SPX 700 options, expiring on September 21, that is over 40% decline from today’s price value. The entity or individual offering these sales can only make money if the market drops 40%-50% within the next four weeks. If the market does not drop, the entity or individual involved stands to lose over $1 billion just for engaging in these contracts!

Clearly, someone knows something big is going to happen BEFORE the options expire on Sept. 21.

[These]... huge option trades... also preceded the Insider Job on 9/11.
Although the SEC knows who had taken those options contracts against Airlines and the market among others, it refuses to release the name of the entity.

Maybe if there's a glare of spotlights on this kind of thing before an atrocity goes down, we can stop it from happening again.

But It could be simply a rumor.

It could be simply a dodge to raise cash for another purpose. Mundane hedge fund privateering. Run of the mill run-on-the-bank robbery.

That’s the damned thing about emergent conspiracies. It doesn’t have to be Carlyle that does the options. It might make more sense in fact if it wasn’t or if it was only a front.

I still remember Rumsfeld announcing on September 10th the D.o’D. couldn’t account for $2 trillion. And after 9/11, floating the idea of “terorism futures” as an investment vehicle. Is this related? Does it make sense? Is it correct?

Sometimes, to paraphrase digby, trying to make sense out of what we’re seeing and hearing is like trying to read druid runes. Certainly trying to figure out what the next move is going to be is like trying set up and solve a differential equation from data written in invisible ink.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Chris Floyd points out that The New York Pravda has Judith Miller's partner in fellation, Micheal Gordon, stovepiping Dear Leader's drive to Get His Iran On.

He also points to Barnett Rubin's report that he...

...received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:

'They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this — they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty." '

So, there it is. The only question if the size of the bang when this gets kicked off, and whether where another Operation Northwoods is planned to get the ball rolling.

Once the ball starts rolling, it'll be interesting to see if the main$tream abandons their wits for another Warga$m.

Anyone remember this?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... uh, won't get fooled again.

Disappointment in DC

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday reported ''significant'' cooperation from Iran with its nuclear probe and noted that Tehran had slowed uranium enrichment -- assessments that could hamper U.S. hopes for new U.N. sanctions.

Iran said the report proved it was the target of unfair U.S. attacks. But Washington and its allies said it did not change the need for more U.N. Security Council penalties.

IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen highlighted the importance of Tehran's cooperation, noting that its past stonewalling had triggered Security Council sanctions in the first place. But he cautioned that Iran still needed to prove it would abide by its commitments.

The report said a recently agreed Iran-IAEA cooperation plan was a ''significant step forward'' but the U.S. played down suggestions of progress...

France was even more direct. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani declared that without an enrichment freeze, Paris will ''pursue ... looking into a third sanctions resolution.''

The Company loves it when they install a reliable puppet. Especially in France. But alas, this time around it may not be sufficient for them to git thar war on:

...Drawn up by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, much of the confidential report obtained by The Associated Press focused on the already publicized Iran-IAEA cooperation plan, restating progress in some areas and time frames for Iran to respond to additional questions.

In that plan, Iran agreed to answer most questions from agency experts by November.

If that and all other deadlines are met and Iran provides all the information sought, the agency should be able to close the file on its more than four-year investigation of Tehran's nuclear activities by year's end, a senior U.N. official said...

Repeating the findings of the Iran-IAEA cooperation plan, the report -- to be considered by the 35-nation IAEA board at a meeting starting Sept. 10 -- said the agency felt that information provided by Iran on past small-scale plutonium experiments had ''resolved'' agency concerns about the issue.

Woops. No nukular program for Dear Leader to bomb. No pretense on the ground that has even more oil for Cheneyburton to hoard for the Company coffers. But when did facts ever stop him?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

B is for Bomb

Watch it.

Reorganization for Better Service

Lambert picked up a good one following right on the heels of Abu Gonzo's resignation. From the Christian Science Pravda:

... The $42 million cutting-edge [ADVISE] system, designed to process trillions of pieces of data, has been halted and could be canceled pending data-privacy reviews, according to a newly released report to Congress by the DHS’s own internal watchdog.

Data mining to help fight the war on terror has become an accepted, even mandated, method to provide timely security information. The DHS operates at least a dozen such programs; intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense employ many others.

But ADVISE (Analy­sis, Dissemina­tion, Visu­ali­zation, Insight and Semantic Enhance­ment) was special. An electronic omnivore conceived in 2003, it was designed to ingest information from scores of databases, blogs, e-mail traffic, intelligence reports, and other sources, government documents and researchers say...

Unknown to the privacy office, the ADVISE pilot programs had been operational and using personal data for about 18 months before the privacy office made that report to Congress, the OIG found.

You might want to read Lambert's whole post.

This was doubtless halted until it could be handed over, in entirety, At&T/ Verizon contracts and all, to be administered by the Pentagon/ DIA, and completely classifed and black budgeted.

After all, NSA Director and Vice Admiral Mike McConnell has a couple of telcom ties he'd rather judiciously exploit in his own little version of the game, too.

“Ya don’t think they’re really spending a million dollars on a hammer, do ya?”

Well, yes I do, it’s just a question on who’s the nail.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Legacy of Abu Gonzo: the Keys to the Kingdom

Greg Palast at Buzzflash:

"What I've experienced in the last six months is the ugly side of the American dream."

Last month, David Iglesias and I were looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where his dad had entered the U.S. from Panama decades ago. It was a hard moment for the military lawyer who, immediately after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired Iglesias as U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, returned to active military duty as a Naval Reserve JAG.

Captain Iglesias, cool and circumspect, added something I didn't expect:

"They misjudged my character, I mean they really thought I was just going to roll over and give them what they wanted and when I didn't, that I'd go away quietly but I just couldn't do that. You know U.S. Attorneys and the Justice Department have a history of not taking into consideration partisan politics. That should not be a factor. And what they tried to do is just wrong and illegal and unethical."

When a federal prosecutor says something is illegal, it's not just small talk. And the illegality wasn't small. It's called "obstruction of justice" and it's a felony crime.

Specifically, Attorney General Gonzales, Iglesias told me, wanted him to bring what the prosecutor called "bogus voter fraud" cases. In effect, U.S. Attorney Iglesias was under pressure from the boss to charge citizens with crimes they didn't commit. Saddam did that. Stalin did that. But Iglesias would NOT do that -- even at the behest of the Attorney General. Today, Captain Iglesias, reached by phone, told me, "I'm not going to file any bogus prosecutions."

But it wasn't just Gonzales whose acts were "unethical, wrong and illegal."

It was Gonzales' boss.

Iglesias says, "The evidence shows right now, is that [Republican Senator Pete] Domenici complained directly to President Bush. And that Bush then called Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General, and complained about my alleged lack of vigorous enforcement of voter fraud laws."

In other words, it went to the top. The Decider had decided to punish a prosecutor who wouldn't prosecute innocents.

All day long I've heard Democrats dance with glee that they now have the scalp of Alberto Gonzales. They nailed the puppet. But what about the puppeteer?

The question that remains is the same that Watergate prosecutors asked of Richard Nixon, "What did the President know and when did he know it?"

Or, to update it for Dubya, "What did the President know and how many times did Karl Rove have to explain it to him?"

During the Watergate hearings, Nixon tried to obstruct the investigation into his obstruction of justice by offering up the heads of his Attorney General and other officials. Then, Congress refused to swallow the Nixon bait. The only resignation that counted was the one by the capo di capi of the criminal-political cabal: Nixon's. The President's.

But in this case, even the exit of the Decider-in-Chief would not be the end of it. Because this isn't about finagling with the power of prosecutors, it's about the 2008 election.

"This voter fraud thing is the bogey man," says Iglesias.

In New Mexico, the 2004 announcement of Iglesias' pending prosecution of voters (which he ultimately refused to do) put the chill on the turnout of Hispanic citizens already harassed by officialdom. The bogus "vote fraud" hysteria helped sell New Mexico's legislature on the Republican plan to require citizenship IDs to vote -- all to stop "fraudulent" voters that simply don't exist.

The voter witch-hunt worked. "Wrong" or "insufficient" ID was used to knock out the civil rights of over a quarter million voters in 2004. In New Mexico, that was enough to swing the state George Bush by a mere 5,900 votes.

So what is most frightening is not the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, the Pinocchio of prosecutorial misconduct, but the resignation of Karl Rove. Because New Mexico 2004 was just the testing ground for the roll-out of the "ID" attack planned for 2008.

And Rove who three decades ago cut his political fangs as chief of the Nixon Youth, is ready to roll. To say Rove left his White House job under a cloud is nonsense. He just went into free-agent status, an electoral hitman ready to jump on the next GOP nominee's black-ops squad. The fact that Rove's venomous assistant, Tim Griffin, was set up to work for the campaign of Fred Thompson is a sign that the Lord Voldemort of vote suppression is preparing to practice his Dark Arts in '08.

It was Rove who convinced Bush to fire upright prosecutors and replace them with Rove-bots ready to strike out at fraudulent (i.e., Democratic) voters.

Iglesias, however, remains the optimist. "I'm hopeful that I'll get back to the American dream. And get out of the American nightmare."

Dreams. Nightmares. I have a better idea for America: Wake up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"It's a Two-Party System!"

Watch it.

Multi Dimensional Solutions As a Treatment for Life-Threatening Disease

It looks like one particular ugly wart on the Constitution has been removed.

That doesn't even begin to talk about his removal of Federal Attorneys who wouldn't co-operative in electoral theft.

What hammered him, in the end, was the lying to Congress, and the realization of his Company peers that if they let him get away with it this man had no intention of conceeding power to anyone else. Ever.

There are quite a few people in this administration like this, and from Dick Cheney on down they are going to require the same treatment.

Once again, what Shystee said.

I'll let you read it, I couldn't say it any better.

It's going to take a lot to turn things around, but every thing you do to help, does help.

But I will also emphasize a comment:

This is not just a pincer movement but a fight on many fronts at the same time... There are many, many “sleeper” bureaucrats who have been installed in power in the seven years of the Bush Administration. The Federal judiciary has been Republican-controlled since at least the last term of Reagan. Changing the elected representatives will begin to stop and reverse this thirty year trend but we have to keep our eyes on those bureaucrats who will be working for George W long after George W is gone.

I would also suggest we the citizens start doing more and more things for ourselves. My particular hobby horse is energy policy and practice. I have one room essentially off-grid through small solar LED lights and a solar/dynamo radio that also charges AA batteries. It cost me less than $200. If a substantial minority of people followed my example, the energy discussion on the street and in the hearing rooms would have to change. David Stephenson of http://www.stephensonstrategies.com has been outlining a civilian-based homefront security infrastructure leveraging available telecom technology into an effective early warning and emergency response system. If we the citizens begin organizing ourselves to help ourselves because our own government can’t be trusted to save us from the next 9/11 or Katrina, we begin to take power back for ourselves and build a practical politics that cuts the ground out from under the established power strucutre.

Solar is civil defense. You can see some of my solar devices on youtube. Search for “gmoke.”

Solar is civil defense, and to Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton, likely among many revolutionary acts.

Every little bit helps.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

They Want Your Soul

Check it out.

And speaking of which.

Scorching the Earth with a Purpose

Here's the economic model that people like Rupert Murdoch and most of the rest of the Rethuglicans want to emulate. Pravda:

...just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.

China is choking on its own success. The economy is on a historic run, posting a succession of double-digit growth rates. But the growth derives, now more than at any time in the recent past, from a staggering expansion of heavy industry and urbanization that requires colossal inputs of energy, almost all from coal, the most readily available, and dirtiest, source...

China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

More pressing still, China has entered the most robust stage of its industrial revolution, even as much of the outside world has become preoccupied with global warming.

Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed that level...

For the Communist Party, the political calculus is daunting. Reining in economic growth to alleviate pollution may seem logical, but the country’s authoritarian system is addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate business interests and threaten the party’s rule.

But pollution poses its own threat. Officials blame fetid air and water for thousands of episodes of social unrest. Health care costs have climbed sharply. Severe water shortages could turn more farmland into desert. And the unconstrained expansion of energy-intensive industries creates greater dependence on imported oil and dirty coal, meaning that environmental problems get harder and more expensive to address the longer they are unresolved...

Emissions of sulfur dioxide from coal and fuel oil, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as acid rain, are increasing even faster than China’s economic growth. In 2005, China became the leading source of sulfur dioxide pollution globally, the State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, reported last year.

Other major air pollutants, including ozone, an important component of smog, and smaller particulate matter, called PM 2.5, emitted when gasoline is burned, are not widely monitored in China. Medical experts in China and in the West have argued that PM 2.5 causes more chronic diseases of the lung and heart than the more widely watched PM 10.

Perhaps an even more acute challenge is water. China has only one-fifth as much water per capita as the United States. But while southern China is relatively wet, the north, home to about half of China’s population, is an immense, parched region that now threatens to become the world’s biggest desert.

Farmers in the north once used shovels to dig their wells. Now, many aquifers have been so depleted that some wells in Beijing and Hebei must extend more than half a mile before they reach fresh water. Industry and agriculture use nearly all of the flow of the Yellow River, before it reaches the Bohai Sea.

In response, Chinese leaders have undertaken one of the most ambitious engineering projects in world history, a $60 billion network of canals, rivers and lakes to transport water from the flood-prone Yangtze River to the silt-choked Yellow River. But that effort, if successful, will still leave the north chronically thirsty.

This scarcity has not yet created a culture of conservation. Water remains inexpensive by global standards, and Chinese industry uses 4 to 10 times more water per unit of production than the average in industrialized nations, according to the World Bank.

In many parts of China, factories and farms dump waste into surface water with few repercussions. China’s environmental monitors say that one-third of all river water, and vast sections of China’s great lakes, the Tai, Chao and Dianchi, have water rated Grade V, the most degraded level, rendering it unfit for industrial or agricultural use...

As gloomy as China’s pollution picture looks today, it is set to get significantly worse, because China has come to rely mainly on energy-intensive heavy industry and urbanization to fuel economic growth. In 2000, a team of economists and energy specialists at the Development Research Center, part of the State Council, set out to gauge how much energy China would need over the ensuing 20 years to achieve the leadership’s goal of quadrupling the size of the economy.

They based their projections on China’s experience during the first 20 years of economic reform, from 1980 to 2000. In that period, China relied mainly on light industry and small-scale private enterprise to spur growth. It made big improvements in energy efficiency even as the economy expanded rapidly. Gross domestic product quadrupled, while energy use only doubled.

The team projected that such efficiency gains would probably continue. But the experts also offered what they called a worst-case situation in which the most energy-hungry parts of the economy grew faster and efficiency gains fell short.

That worst-case situation now looks wildly optimistic. Last year, China burned the energy equivalent of 2.7 billion tons of coal, three-quarters of what the experts had said would be the maximum required in 2020. To put it another way, China now seems likely to need as much energy in 2010 as it thought it would need in 2020 under the most pessimistic assumptions...

Chinese steel makers, on average, use one-fifth more energy per ton than the international average. Cement manufacturers need 45 percent more power, and ethylene producers need 70 percent more than producers elsewhere, the World Bank says.

China’s aluminum industry alone consumes as much energy as the country’s commercial sector — all the hotels, restaurants, banks and shopping malls combined, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Houser reported.

Moreover, the boom is not limited to heavy industry. Each year for the past few years, China has built about 7.5 billion square feet of commercial and residential space, more than the combined floor space of all the malls and strip malls in the United States, according to data collected by the United States Energy Information Administration.

Chinese buildings rarely have thermal insulation. They require, on average, twice as much energy to heat and cool as those in similar climates in the United States and Europe, according to the World Bank. A vast majority of new buildings — 95 percent, the bank says — do not meet China’s own codes for energy efficiency.

All these new buildings require China to build power plants, which it has been doing prodigiously. In 2005 alone, China added 66 gigawatts of electricity to its power grid, about as much power as Britain generates in a year. Last year, it added an additional 102 gigawatts, as much as France.

That increase has come almost entirely from small- and medium-size coal-fired power plants that were built quickly and inexpensively. Only a few of them use modern, combined-cycle turbines, which increase efficiency, said Noureddine Berrah, an energy expert at the World Bank. He said Beijing had so far declined to use the most advanced type of combined-cycle turbines despite having completed a successful pilot project nearly a decade ago.

While over the long term, combined-cycle plants save money and reduce pollution, Mr. Berrah said, they cost more and take longer to build. For that reason, he said, central and provincial government officials prefer older technology...

The government rarely uses market-oriented incentives to reduce pollution. Officials have rejected proposals to introduce surcharges on electricity and coal to reflect the true cost to the environment. The state still controls the price of fuel oil, including gasoline, subsidizing the cost of driving.

Energy and environmental officials have little influence in the bureaucracy. The environmental agency still has only about 200 full-time employees, compared with 18,000 at the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.

China has no Energy Ministry. The Energy Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s central planning agency, has 100 full-time staff members. The Energy Department of the United States has 110,000 employees...

We have them even if they get fired for actually trying to do their job these days.

To paraphrase what Tim Robbins said to Stephen Hayes abot the War on Terra, experts that are so inept about absolutely predictable situations obviously aren't experts.

Unless of course the consequences are what was really intended all along.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

September 10th Thinking

As of September 10th, 2001, the Pentagon was unable to account for $2.3 trillion dollars of expenditures.

Since then, Everything Changed, as the Serious people in Washington tell us.

The Pentagon stopped counting.

Besides, they know where it all went anyway.

It's an idea.

Check it out. Hitting the streets may not be such a great idea for everybody. Darth Cheneyburton does have all those new "non-lethal" weapon he's been dying to try on somebody. But that "Buy Nothing" thing alone would hit 'em where it hurts.

A sense of proportion, please.

Apparently someone else thinks the fix is in for this one. Wonkette:

Beloved 1988 Dem nominee Michael Dukakis was such a crappy candidate that he lost to despised vice president George Bush, so now he’s warning America that the Republicans will still figure out a way to keep the White House beyond 2008, even though everybody hates the Republicans and all the GOP candidates and especially Bush Junior and Dick Cheney.

“We’re not going to outspend the other guys,” he said during an interview in his modest office in the political science department at Northeastern University, where he was the first to arrive (at 7:30 a.m.) on a recent midsummer morning. “We’re probably not going to outstrategize them. And some crazy guy will blow up a building with three weeks to go, you know, and then we’ll be back in Bush-land again.”

While we object to dismissing Karl Rove as “some crazy guy,” Dukakis does have a point. As George Will says, we are now basically Weimar Germany right before “some crazy guy” burns the Reichstag and lets Hitler take over Europe and put everybody in Concentration Camps.

So what can the Dem nominees do to stop Cheney from crowning Bush Junior emperor of the world?

We’re pretty sure the answer is “Just sit back and wait for Russia to launch a full nuclear strike against the United States” because experts say that’s what really needs to happen anyway.

Now Wonkette, just because Rove is a crazy as a bedbug doesn't mean he's ineffective.

Capturing the Crucial

In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote

Likely Terra'ists

Iraq corruption whistleblowers face penalties
Cases show fraud exposers have been vilified, fired, or detained for weeks

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

“It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

No noble outcomes
Corruption has long plagued Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects may never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

Despite this staggering mess, there are no noble outcomes for those who have blown the whistle, according to a review of such cases by The Associated Press.

“If you do it, you will be destroyed,” said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

“Reconstruction is so rife with corruption. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Should I do this?’ And my answer is no. If they’re married, they’ll lose their family. They will lose their jobs. They will lose everything,” Weaver said.

They have been fired or demoted, shunned by colleagues, and denied government support in whistleblower lawsuits filed against contracting firms.

“The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know,” said Beth Daley of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates corruption. “But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them. The message is, ’Don’t blow the whistle or we’ll make your life hell.’

“It’s heartbreaking,” Daley said. “There is an even greater need for whistleblowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It’s a disgrace. Their lives get ruined...”

Don't mess with the Myth if you don't want the wrath of the Righteous.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"...a city of ghosts"

BAGHDAD, Aug. 23 — The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.

Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.

The data track what are known as internally displaced Iraqis: those who have been driven from their neighborhoods and seek refuge elsewhere in the country rather than fleeing across the border. The effect of this vast migration is to drain religiously mixed areas in the center of Iraq, sending Shiite refugees toward the overwhelmingly Shiite areas to the south and Sunnis toward majority Sunni regions to the west and north.

Though most displaced Iraqis say they would like to return, there is little prospect of their doing so. One Sunni Arab who had been driven out of the Baghdad neighborhood of southern Dora by Shiite snipers said she doubted that her family would ever return, buildup or no buildup...

Chris Floyd calls this correctly. The real goal behind arming both Sunni and Shia against each other is ethnic cleansing.

But although the Sunni and Shia (and Kurd) zealots all seek to wipe each other out, the real goal is to wipe out the indigenous people of Iraq. It is not just morons like Philip Atkinson, saying this in writing for the TheoCon fundie crowd. It's NeoLiberal NeoCons of the Serious Foreign Policy Community writing papers for their peers that say the same things euphemistically.

It only looks like a huge policy clusterfuck from the middle distance. With a Dear Leader being Dear Leader, it's plausible deniability for the Company. The Corporate State of 'Merika simply wants to be the last one standing and holding the oil when the smoke clears.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Disappointment at Montebello

Democracy's new dawn is on CCTV: the security state as infotainment

So keen are America's leaders to hear dissent they're videotaping the dissenters. Welcome to a world of total surveillance

Naomi Klein
Friday August 24, 2007
The Guardian

As protesters gathered recently outside the Security and Prosperity Partnership summit in Montebello, Quebec, to confront George Bush, Felipe Calderón, the Mexican president, and Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, Associated Press reported this surreal detail: "Leaders were not able to see the protesters in person, but they could watch the protesters on TV monitors inside the hotel ... Cameramen hired to ensure that demonstrators would be able to pass along their messages to the three leaders sat idly in a tent full of audio and video equipment ... A sign on the outside of the tent said, 'Our cameras are here today providing your right to be seen and heard. Please let us help you get your message out. Thank You.'"

Yes, it's true: like contestants on a reality TV show, protesters at the SPP meeting were invited to vent into video cameras, their rants to be beamed to "protest-trons" inside the summit enclave. It was security state as infotainment - Big Brother meets, well, Big Brother. The spokesperson for Prime Minister Harper explained that although protesters were herded into empty fields, the video link meant that their right to political speech was protected. "Under the law, they need to be seen and heard, and they will be."

It is an argument with sweeping implications. If videotaping activists meets the legal requirement that dissenting citizens have the right to be seen and heard, what else might fit the bill? How about all the other security cameras that patrolled the summit - the ones filming demonstrators as they got on and off buses and peacefully walked down the street? What about the mobile phone calls that were intercepted, the meetings that were infiltrated, the emails that were read? According to the new rules set out in Montebello, all these actions may soon be recast not as infringements on civil liberties but the opposite: proof of our leaders' commitment to direct, unmediated consultation. Elections are a crude tool for taking the public temperature - these methods allow constant, exact monitoring of our beliefs. Think of surveillance as the new participatory democracy; of wiretapping as the political equivalent of MTV's Total Request Live.

Protesters in Montebello complained that while they were locked out, chief executives from about 30 of the largest corporations in North America - from Wal-Mart to Chevron - were part of the official summit. But perhaps they had it backwards: the CEOs had only an hour and 15 minutes of face time with the leaders. The activists were being "seen and heard" around the clock. So instead of shouting about police-state tactics, maybe they should have said: "Thank you for listening." (And reading, and watching, and photographing, and data-mining.)

The Montebello "seen and heard" rule also casts the target of the protests in a new light. The SPP is described in the leaders' final statement as an "ambitious" plan to "keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade". In other words, a merger of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the homeland security complex - Nafta with spy planes. The model dates back to September 11, when Paul Cellucci, the US ambassador to Canada, pronounced that in the new era, "security will trump trade". But there was an out clause: the trade on which the economies of Canada and Mexico depend could continue uninterrupted, as long as the governments of those countries were willing to welcome the tentacles of the US war on terror. Canadian and Mexican business leaders leaped to surrender, aggressively pushing their governments to give in to US demands for "integrated" security in order to keep the goods and the tourists flowing.

Almost six years later, the business leaders at Montebello - under the banner of the North American Competitiveness Council, an official wing of the SPP - were still holding up "thickening borders" as the bogeyman. The fix? According to the SPP website, "technological solutions, improved information-sharing, and, potentially, the use of biometric identifiers". From experience we know what this means: continent-wide no-fly lists, integrated databases, as well as the $2.5bn contract to Boeing to build a "virtual fence" on the northern and southern borders of the United States, equipped with unmanned drones.

In short, under the SPP vision of the continent, "thick" borders will soon be replaced with a nearly invisible web of continental surveillance - almost all of it run for profit. Two members of the SPP advisory group - Lockheed Martin and General Electric - have already received multibillion-dollar contracts from the US government to build this web. In the Bush era, security doesn't trump big business; it may be the biggest business of all...

There's more to read there, and you should.

But as you might notice, it's not that they want to hear dissent, it's that they want an excuse to crucify some dissenters.

There was an attempt of "anarchists" who were really undercover police agitators to disrupt the protests. They were identified and halted in their attempts to precipitate violence by trade union officials. This may mean that these provocateurs were private contractors planted to provide a show for the corporate collective of oiligarchs who would rule.

Terra'ists play much better when they play for the script. How much easier to convince governments to sign on to the hardline approach when it's obvious the barbarians are at the gates. But they understate the real problem. The worst barbarians aren't in the street.

They're in the boardroom, on the podium, watching the cameras, and firing the tear gas whenever they can even if they have to invent their own riots.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

International Corporatism Has a Cell Ready for You

For those out there that think Canada might serve as a haven from the depredations of the Company, an interesting video surfaces.

Canadian Unionists were protesting against the SPP (The Security and Prosperity Partnership) meeting, the super-NAFTA organization that Dear Leader publically scoffs at but in fact shows up to meet with.

It seems the Canadian police were at the protest ready to bash heads... as were anonymous "anarchists".

However, looking at the video, the Union seniors weren't fooled- and managed to expose the "anarchists" as police provocateurs trying to create a scene with violence for the cameras before they could get their party rolling.

Check out the video link above. Cops have been doing this forever. It was very common at anti-war protests against Viet Nam when I was a kid.

Trust nobody who incites violence, at protests or on the internet. For one thing, violence is the final refuge of the incompetent. For another, public advocacy of violence will get you busted, as sure as any other kind of dope the pigs push.

O-me-o, o-my-o, o god not...


Sara at Orcinus points to TheoCon Righteous in Columbus who've taken to disrupting services at a churches that accept open gays.

Every Sunday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cheneyburton's National Security Thinktank

Now we know where David Addington gets his ideas.

I saw this article from the Famly Security Council yesterday and thought it was a joke. Nobody could be so irrationally demented. I guess I was wrong.

I've spent years throwing humor and hyperbole at Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton. But perhaps the most unnerving thing I've experienced is that consistently they exceed my expectations [thanks, weldon berger, Marc Parent and Shane-O].

...President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.

When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Philip Atkinson, the author of this piece, is supported by Dick Cheney, and this was posted for two weeks at The Family Security Foundation's website before it was taken down.

Someone is apparently likes what they see.

Monday, August 20, 2007

No Can Hear, No Can See, No Can Speak

Since this shows every sign of tanking with the press, let's reproduce it here before it disappears behind Pravda's firewall forever. Not to mention the brave men who wrote it, whose lives are doubtless even more at risk now that they have. And thanks to Greg Sargent and Atrios. Duncan makes me continue to realize that when a tree falls in the forest, one does not require a cable television headline to make it news.

The War as We Saw It
Published: August 19, 2007

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

It's the same old problem.

If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears, who knows?

If a campaign fails in the desert, and only the soldiers know it, we have plausible deniability.

And who would've known?

Sensible Kid

Via oyster:

As Hurricane Dean gains strength, The Daytona Beach News Journal reports:

An 8-year-old child scared of hurricanes tried to go back to Ohio where she moved from -- on her bicycle -- DeLand police Deputy Chief Randel Henderson said Thursday.

"It is amusing but at the same time sad," Henderson said.
The little girl stated to police "that she was headed back to Columbus Ohio, because she was afraid of hurricanes and that was her home," the report said...

Sounds like that girl has far more brains than her parents. But she's too smart for Columbus, where many don't like to talk about things like evolution or global warming. When she's old enough, she should come little further North to Ann Arbor, where she'll learn why she's scared and what to do about it.

Florida's in the same problem New Orlean is, but there's a level of delusion that comes with not having been burnt as badly. Yet.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tough Oil

You know, there's a likely reason why the "saner" elements of the Company are in no hurry to see Cheneyburton get his Iran on. This is covered pretty well by Michael Klare over at Tom Englehardt's TomDispatch:

...Peak-oil theorists have long contended that the first half of the world's oil to be extracted and consumed will be the easy half. They are referring, of course, to the oil that's found on shore or near to shore; oil close to the surface and concentrated in large reservoirs; oil produced in friendly, safe, and welcoming places.

The other half -- what (if they are right) is left of the world's petroleum supply -- is the tough oil. They mean oil that's buried far offshore or deep underground; oil scattered in small, hard-to-find reservoirs; oil that must be obtained from unfriendly, politically dangerous, or hazardous places. An oil investor's eye-view of our energy planet today quickly reveals that we already seem to be entering the tough-oil era. This explains the growing pessimism among industry analysts as well as certain changes in behavior in the energy marketplace.

In but one sign of the new reality, the price of benchmark U.S. light, sweet crude oil for next-month delivery soared to new highs on July 31, topping the previous record for intraday trading of $77.03 per barrel set in July 2006. Some observers are predicting that a price of $80 per barrel is just around the corner; while John Kildruff, a perfectly sober analyst at futures broker Man Financial, told Bloomberg.com, "We're only a headline of significance away from $100 oil." New disruptions in Nigerian or Iraqi supplies, or a U.S. military strike against Iran, he explained, could trigger such a price increase in the energy equivalent of a nano-second...

And then there are those reports from high-level agencies and organizations on the global energy picture, all coming to the same basic conclusion: Whether or not the peak in world oil output is at hand, the future of the global oil supply in a world of endlessly growing demand appears grim.

The first of these recent warnings, entitled the "Medium-Term Oil Market Report," was released on July 8 by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an arm of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of major industrial powers. Although filled with statistics and technical analyses, the report, assessing the global oil supply-and-demand equation through 2012, seemed to leak anxiety and came to a distinctly worrisome conclusion: Because world oil demand is likely to keep rising at a rapid tempo and the development of new oil fields is not expected to keep pace, significant shortfalls are likely to emerge within the next five years.

The IEA report predicts that world economic activity will grow by an average of 4.5% per year during this period -- driven largely by unbridled growth in China, India, and other Asian dynamos. Global oil demand will rise, it predicts, by about 2.2% per year, pushing world oil consumption from an estimated 86.1 million barrels per day in 2007 to 95.8 million barrels by 2012. With luck and substantial new investment, the global oil industry may be able to increase output sufficiently to satisfy this higher level of demand -- but, if so, just barely. Beyond 2012, the production outlook appears far grimmer. And keep in mind, this is the best-case scenario.

Underlying the report's conclusions are a number of specific fears. Despite rising fuel prices, neither the mature consumers of the OECD countries, nor newly affluent consumers in the developing world are likely to significantly curb their appetite for petroleum. "Demand is growing, and as people become accustomed to higher prices, they are starting to return to their previous trends of high consumption," was the way Lawrence Eagles, an oil expert at the IEA, summed the situation up. This is clearly evident in the United States, where record-high gasoline prices have not stopped drivers from filling up their tanks and driving record distances.

In addition, oil output in the United States and most other non-members of the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) has peaked, or is about to do so, which means that the net contribution of non-OPEC suppliers will only diminish between now and 2012. That, in turn, means that the burden of providing the required additional oil will have to fall on the OPEC countries, most of which are located in unstable areas of the Middle East and Africa.

The numbers are actually staggering. Just to satisfy a demand for an extra 10 million or so barrels per day between now and 2012, two million barrels per day in new oil would have to be added to global stocks yearly. But even this calculation is misleading, as Eagles of the IEA made clear. In fact, the world would initially need "more than 3 million barrels per day of new oil each year [just] to offset the falling production in the mature fields outside of OPEC" -- and that's before you even get near that additional two million barrels.

In other words, what's actually needed is five million barrels of new oil each year, a truly daunting challenge since almost all of this oil will have to be found in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Angola, Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela, and one or two other countries. These are not places that exactly inspire investor confidence of a sort that could attract the many billions of dollars needed to ramp up production enough to satisfy global requirements.

Read between the lines and one quickly perceives a worst-case scenario in which the necessary investment is not forthcoming; OPEC production does not grow by five million barrels per day year after year; ethanol and other substitute-fuel production, along with alternate fuels of various sorts, do not grow fast enough to fill the gap; and, in the not-too-distant future, a substantial shortage of oil leads to a global economic meltdown...

A very similar prognosis emerges from a careful reading of "Facing the Hard Truths About Energy," the second major report to be released in July. Submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil-industrial association, this report encapsulated the view of both industry officials and academic analysts. It was widely praised for providing a "balanced" approach to the energy dilemma. It called for both increased fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and increased oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Contributing to the buzz around its release was the identity of the report's principal sponsor, former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond. Having previously expressed skepticism about global warming, he now embraced the report's call for the taking of significant steps to curb carbon-dioxide emissions.

Like the IEA report, the NPC study does claim that -- with the perfect mix of policies and an adequate level of investment -- the energy industry would be capable of satisfying oil and gas demand for some years to come. "Fortunately, the world is not running out of energy resources," the report bravely asserts. Read deep into the report, though, and these optimistic words begin to dissolve as its emphasis switches to the growing difficulties (and costs) of extracting oil and gas from less-than-favorable locations and the geopolitical risks associated with a growing global reliance on potentially hostile, unstable suppliers.

Again, the numbers involved are staggering. According to the NPC, an estimated $20 trillion in new investment (that's trillion, not billion) will be needed between now and 2030 to ensure sufficient energy for anticipated demand. This works out to "$3,000 per person alive today" in a world in which a good half of humanity earns substantially less than that each year...

The report then notes the obvious: "A stable and attractive investment climate will be necessary to attract adequate capital for evolution and expansion of the energy infrastructure." And this is where any astute observer should begin to get truly alarmed; for, as the study itself notes, no such climate can be expected. As the center of gravity of world oil production shifts decisively to OPEC suppliers and to state-centric energy producers like Russia, geopolitical rather than market factors will come to dominate the energy industry and a whole new set of instabilities will characterize the oil trade.

"These shifts pose profound implications for U.S. interests, strategies, and policy-making," the report states. "Many of the expected changes could heighten risks to U.S. energy security in a world where U.S. influence is likely to decline as economic power shifts to other nations. In years to come, security threats to the world's main sources of oil and natural gas may worsen."

Read from this perspective, the recent reports from pillars of the Big- Oil/wealthy-nation establishment suggest that the basic logic of peak-oil theory is on the mark and hard times are ahead when it comes to global oil-and-gas sufficiency. Both reports claim that with just the right menu of corrective policies and an unrealistic streak of pure luck -- as in no set of major Katrina-like hurricanes barreling into oil fields or refineries, no new wars in Middle Eastern oil producing areas, no political collapse in Nigeria -- we can somehow stagger through to 2012 and maybe just beyond without a global economic meltdown. But in an era of tough oil, the odds tip toward tough luck as well...

Why the hesitation of the Company's move towards the Cheneyburton plan of global hegemony? Possibly because the ones who would rule are finally starting to grasp just how fragile the string holding the sword of Damocles really is.

Maybe we could paint their school...

Not found in the 'Merikan press, of course...

A SENIOR official in the Iraqi region that suffered the country’s worst suicide attacks suggested this weekend that any remaining survivors trapped beneath rubble would be left to die.

Colonel Najim Abdullah, the governor of Tal Afar, said there were insufficient resources to continue searching for people among the ruins of Qahtaniya and Adnaniya, two villages devastated by multiple truck bombings last Tuesday.

Up to 200 people are still thought to be unaccounted for, taking the death toll past 500. The victims were mainly members of the Yazidi minority sect, which has made its home around the Sinjar mountains, close to the border with Syria.

“We do not have the real potential to tackle the problem,” said Abdullah. “If we are not even able to provide residents with ration cards, how can we save them now under the rubble?”

But woops, we do that here too...

Still Attempting to Break the Barrier

...When an airplane travels at a speed faster than sound, density waves of sound emitted by the plane cannot precede the plane, and so accumulate in a cone behind the plane. When this shock wave passes, a listener hears all at once the sound emitted over a longer period: a sonic boom. As a plane accelerates to just break the sound barrier, however, an unusual cloud might form. The origin of this cloud is still debated. A leading theory is that a drop in air pressure at the plane described by the Prandtl-Glauert Singularity occurs so that moist air condenses there to form water droplets...

There's always a price to be paid when natural barriers are broken.

Someone should tell that to the NeoCons who are still trying to make their own reality without regard to the blowback. Or is it because it's exactly the blowback they want? Steve Clemons:

...there are bad guys in Iran who so desperately want to consolidate their political positions inside Iran that they see a hot conflict with the U.S. and/or Israel as "helpful". It's also clear that Vice President Cheney as well as his followers inside the administration and his ideological following in Washington's think tank sector want war to pump up their eroding political position.

But Ledeen, James Woolsey, Norman Podhoretz, and others want war now with Iran. They want the bombs to fly. They are obsessed with delegitimating the important diplomatic efforts of Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad, and others. They despise Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- and they are increasingly offering defamatory comments about George W. Bush himself at their small dinner parties and neocon gatherings...

The Cheneyburton cabal gives lip service to their masters, the Saudi Royals, and Poppy's Consigliere. The findings of the Iraq Study Group are now the (un)official policies of the land, both DINOcrat and Rethuglican, regardless of Dear Leader's dragging feet. He hates it when his daddy tells him what to do.

But Cheneyburton himself fears the loss of power. It's not just that powerless, people might start to add things up and throw him in prison for the rest of his unnatural life. Power's his aphrodisiac, his reason to keep his unnatural heart beating, and the insane words of sycophants give voice to his own secret plans for hegemony. He has a host of followers, in the light of the American Enterprise Institute, like Michael Ledeen, and jockeying for their own Rings of Power behind the scenes, like David Addington.

But the results of expanding the War on Terra to Iran are too apparent to too many, and scare even the Saudi Royals and their Consigliere. That's not to say those who prefer to move behind the scenes aren't moving that way regardless. The consequences of a full unleashing of the dogs of war with Iran are best described by Arthur Silber:

...So an attack on Iran, even if confined to the use of conventional weapons, would confirm beyond the point of any remaining dispute that we have abandoned all the constraints on military action that the world has accepted for some time. We would make indisputably clear that we believe we have the "right" to make war on any nation, at any time, and on the merest whim. The existence of a threat to the United States is irrelevant and unnecessary to our actions. In effect, we will have declared war on the entire world, at least by implication. No one will be able to view themselves as safe: those we consider allies today might be viewed as enemies tomorrow. All concepts of "right" and "morality" would be jettisoned forever. We will have entered a world where brute force and military superiority are all that matter. Since no other nation can view itself as safe from our wrath, we can expect the rest of the world to make plans accordingly.

When the unprovoked, aggressive and non-defensive use of nuclear weapons is added to this picture, we will have entered a world of potential global holocaust...

Silber goes on to quote a post from Billmon on this topic. Of course, Billmon's presence- and website, and archives- have been Disappeared from cyberspace, so I quote this here for posterity. Until I Disappear, too:

...So let’s look at what the human costs of dropping a tactical nuclear weapon on Iran might entail.

They are astronomical.

"The number of deaths could exceed a million, and the number of people with increased cancer risks could exceed 10 million," according to a backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists from May 2005.

The National Academy of Sciences studied these earth-penetrating nuclear weapons last year. They could "kill up to a million people or more if used in heavily populated areas," concluded the report, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Physicians for Social Responsibility examined the risks of a more advanced buster-bunker weapon, and it eerily tabulated the toll from an attack on the underground nuclear facility in Esfahan, Iran. "Three million people would be killed by radiation within two weeks of the explosion, and 35 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, would be exposed to increased levels of cancer-causing radiation," according to a summary of that study in the backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists...

And the opposition? There ain't no steenkin' opposition:

...The Democrats don't object and they completely fail to mount serious opposition to our inevitable course toward widening war and an attack on Iran, not because they are cowards, not because they're afraid of being portrayed as "weak" in the fight against terrorism, and not because of any of the other excuses that are regularly offered by their defenders. They don't object because -- they don't object. That is: they agree -- they agree that the United States is the "indispensable" nation, that we have the "right" to tell every other country how it is "permitted" to act, that we must pursue a policy of aggressive interventionism supported by an empire of military bases. They agree about all of it; moreover, in most critical respects, they devised these policies in the first instance, and they implemented and defended them more vigorously and more consistently than Republicans, with the exception of the criminal now residing in the White House.

They agree. Try to wrap your head around it. Try to absorb the indisputable fact, which has been proven over and over and over again...

Whether conventional or unuclear weapons are used against Iran, like Iraq, this war will be unwinnable. Without tactical nukes, we can not subdue a nation ten times the size of Iraq, particularly while we are trying to subdue Iraq and Afghanistan. And if we do use tactical nukes?

We can not fight the entire world, and emerge as anything other than a glowing radioactive cinder.

Whichever road we take, if we go down it, we will hear the lament from the Serious that No One Could Have Guessed What Would Happen.

If there are any ears that can still hear.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Contrary to The New York Pravda's review, Invasion is excellent science fiction.

It is not a horror flick at all.

It does have socio-political overtones.

And I can imagine the pod people at Pravda, DINOcrat or Rethuglican, would have a little problem with its underlying philosophy.

Check it out.

But it's only proper for the Right people...

We'd never call it anything as crass as welfare, because, you know, the rabble need to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps...

...The Fed, while not yet cutting a rate that wields more influence over the economy, moved to stimulate lending in part because it recognized that even well-to-do families with good credit ratings were having difficulty getting mortgages. That problem, radiating through the housing market and then the broader economy, had “the potential to restrain economic growth,” the Fed said...

Ah, the marvel of 'Merikan "capitalism", which another name for socialism for Bu$hie's base and serfdom for everyone else.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose

To seventeenth century astronomers, Omicron Ceti or Mira was known as a wonderful star, a star whose brightness could change dramatically in the course of about 11 months. Mira is now seen as the archetype of an entire class of long-period variable stars. Surprisingly, modern astronomers have only recently discovered another striking characteristic of Mira -- an enormous comet-like tail nearly 13 light-years long. The discovery was made using ultraviolet image data from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite. Billions of years ago Mira was likely similar to our Sun, but has now become a swollen red giant star, its outer layers of material blowing off into interstellar space. Fluorescing in ultraviolet light, the cast off material trails behind the giant star as it plows through the surrounding interstellar medium at 130 kilometers per second. The amount of material in Mira's tail is estimated to be equivalent to 3,000 times the mass of planet Earth. About 400 light-years away toward the constellation Cetus, Mira is presently too faint to be seen by the unaided eye, but will become visible again in mid-November.

Be thankful there's nothing like that headed our way.

This is the reason for science. Ten years ago the knowledgable would have scoffed at the idea of a rogue star tearing on a wild vector through space, or that there was enough matter in deep space to create a bow wave a light year ahead of it.

They Comment on the Tsunami

The New York Pravda's singing the line that the little people have no need to worry about Wall Street, because, you know, it's all good.

Unwisely, they allowed comments to the positive thinking on their website. Not surprising, there is something of a chorus of agreement at first. But there's also quips like this from Scott Baker:

...Yes, ordinary investors should be worried - not because the global growth story isn’t intact, or because real companies have real earnings, but because the $%^&@@#$ hedge funds leveraged themselves 8-10 times over their assets and now have to dump everything in sight - especially the good stuff - to meet massive redemptions. Oh, rich investors are not immune from panic selling either, nor are lending institutions like banks etc. The hedge fund industry is ruining the market for the rest of the world, which rightly looks at fundamentals and the economy, and they need to be regulated. No one should be allowed to take on more than 1.5 times margin. I don’t give a damn how many hedge funds blow up - let their managers live on the street in cardboard boxes. Their returns after huge fees were never worth the risks anyway - as is now apparent - but they are destroying the markets and even economies for the rest of the world and need to be stopped or put out of business, hopefully without the current carnage...

As much as I'd like to blame it all on hedge funds and my ex-girlfiend's husband, it's not just that. Look at how the "bluest of the blue chip" mortgage lender constructs its loans:

...Traditionally, banks made mortgages by lending the money that they took in as deposits, and they held the loans until they were repaid. Countrywide and most rivals largely do not operate that way. They borrow money from banks and investors on Wall Street, and when they close a mortgage they quickly sell, repeating the cycle over and over. Until recently, the relationship has been extremely profitable for both sides.

But as defaults on mortgages made in recent years have surged, the system has started to break down.

On Wednesday, Countrywide sought to raise money by issuing short-term debt known as commercial paper, something it does regularly. But there was no demand on Wall Street, according to two people briefed on the situation. Less than two weeks ago, the company said it had access to $50 billion in commercial paper, which has a term of nine months or less. In the last few days, the market for short-term debt has seized up, particularly for loans that are tied to mortgages, because investors say they can no longer value them...

Ponzi schemes tend to work that way.

My comment to Pravda?

Once upon a time before the invasion of the pod people markets were, you know, regulated.

Somewhere along the line some nitwit suggested government needed to be shrunk to the size where you could drown it in a bathtub. Strangely enough, that did not apply to the military industrial complex, but that's a rant for another day. When you remove all the safeguards against predators from the economy, the wolves move right in with the sheep, usually with promises of high yield at minimal risk.

Throw the crooks out of Washington, and strangely enough, things will stabilize on Wall Street as well. If FDR were alive, he'd tell you that today; and even though he's not, his record and his words and his spirit still do.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Context of the Dialog

via Lambert via bluegal, Sinfonian at BlastOff runs a test on the political positions of the major presidential candidates as presented by a recent article on London's TimesOnline.

All three are correct. The mind boggling item here is that the restoration of Constitutional government is a centrist position. The window of political possibility is no open view of the wider world. It a fortified thin narrow slit where paranoid gun men snipe at the crowd below.

Zombie Markets Eat Your Brain First and Then Your Wallet

Nouriel Roubini, via Atrios:

...First, you take a bunch of shaky and risky subprime mortgages and repackage them into residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS); then you repackage these RMBS in different (equity, mezzanine, senior) tranches of cash CDOs that receive a misleading investment grade rating by the credit rating agencies; then you create synthetic CDOs out of the same underlying RMBS; then you create CDOs of CDOs (or squared CDOs) out of these CDOs; and then you create CDOs of CDOs of CDOs (or cubed CDOs) out of the same murky securities; then you stuff some of these RMBS and CDO tranches into SIV (structured investment vehicles) or into ABCP (Asset Backed Commercial Paper) or into money market funds. Then no wonder that eventually people panic and run - as they did yesterday – on an apparently “safe” money market fund such as Sentinel. That “toxic waste” of unpriceable and uncertain junk and zombie corpses is now emerging in the most unlikely places in the financial markets.

Haven't I seen her on Fox News?

...Second example: today any wealthy individual can take $1 million and go to a prime broker and leverage this amount three times; then the resulting $4 million ($1 equity and $3 debt) can be invested in a fund of funds that will in turn leverage these $4 millions three or four times and invest them in a hedge fund; then the hedge fund will take these funds and leverage them three or four times and buy some very junior tranche of a CDO that is itself levered nine or ten times. At the end of this credit chain, the initial $1 million of equity becomes a $100 million investment out of which $99 million is debt (leverage) and only $1 million is equity. So we got an overall leverage ratio of 100 to 1. Then, even a small 1% fall in the price of the final investment (CDO) wipes out the initial capital and creates a chain of margin calls that unravel this debt house of cards. This unraveling of a Minskian Ponzi credit scheme is exactly what is happening right now in financial markets.

Nothing to see here! Shuffle along, shuffle along. Until you find some more easy money, anyway.

The problem being, that even though it's tough to have sympathy with the members of Bu$hie's zombie ba$e who can no longer float multimillion dollar loan scams that run up the costs of everything, these undead are so firmly entwined with the 'Merikan economic system that any attempt to toss them in their graves with their consumerist lifestyles will entangle you, your family, and your little dog, too.

I hear headshots of rational dialog work, but some of these individuals are so acerebral, it's hard to find a locus to communicate with. And then there are those who simply live with their heads up their asses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good-Bye and Good Riddance. If Only.

Garrison Keillor says it better than I could.

But are we really rid of him? I think not.

Jomamma points towards a timely analysis of the international response to the Rovian Dominion:

...Russia and China have now witnessed enough of the Bush administration's unprovoked aggression in the world to take neocon intentions seriously. As the US has proven that it cannot occupy the Iraqi city of Baghdad despite 5 years of efforts, it most certainly cannot occupy Russia or China. That means the conflict toward which the neocons are driving will be a nuclear conflict...

Americans need to understand what the neocon Bush regime cannot: a nuclear exchange between the US, Russia, and China would establish the hegemony of the cockroach...

Establish? There are places in this land of the Bravado and Home of the Lien, 'Merika, where the cockroach has Authority and knows how to use it.

The 11th Hour

An interesting interview with one of the producers of Leonardo DiCaprio's The 11th Hour, and check out the trailer at the link:

...KW: I know that documentaries are becoming increasingly popular, but how is this film different from Al Gore's, and why would anyone want to see another film on eco-catastrophe?

NC: Our films are totally different - we contextualize environmental problems so that you come away with a greater understanding of how and why we got here - an essential component to understanding how to reverse the damage that has created our problems. Additionally, we deal with global warming only for seven minutes out of 90 - the rest of the film examines the state of environmental degradation and ecosystem collapse as a symptom of a larger problem, which we see as the industrial revolution and the way our culture relates to the planet as a resource to be consumed. Our film is a journey through man's relationship to the planet - how we got to this critical point - the forces in our society that are stalling us, keeping us here - and the hope for the future. We focus the entire last third of the film on solutions.

KW: I watched the trailer, and it looked a compilation of every Hollywood disaster movie ever made, except that it was all real. Do you think those disaster movies that were big in the 1980s and 1990s were in some way a premonition of the reality we are facing today?

NC: I think on a deep level we know we have been destroying nature and we have projected onto other forces, like alien invasions in films, the very thing we are doing to ourselves. We have been living extremely out of balance with not only the planet, but with ourselves, so if cinema is a kind of reflection of our unconscious, then one could see we are in crisis for sure. The problem with a lot of these disaster films is that they play upon fear without delivering any purpose or meaning. What is all this destruction in the service of? What kinds of stories are we really trying to tell? Frequently, nature is positioned as the enemy - we are battling a volcano, a quake, a tidal wave, a comet. This idea of us against the world is something that has been perpetuated for a long time in human civilization, and it does not ultimately serve us - we have to see ourselves as a part of nature.

KW: You've got some great people appearing in the film, including Diane Wilson, whom I have interviewed. Gloria Flora appears in the trailer and talks about the importance of voting. I happen to know that as the supervisor of one of our national forests, she became a victim of right-wing politics. Does her story come out in the film?

NC: We interviewed 71 people for this film, and 54 people made it into our 90-minute cut. As you will see, the film is really a seamless dialogue amongst these specialists, visionaries and experts, who have been on the front lines of this issue for decades. Unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to get into their personal stories, but frequently we selected people because of their vast knowledge of these issues and of how hard it has been to do their work unobstructed. For instance, we had an interview slated with James Hansen during the summer he issued his report to Congress on global warming. He was subsequently shut down or censored from talking to anyone - including us.

KW: The film seems like it will emphasize technical solutions to our problems. Does that mean there is nothing we can really do until science comes up with these solutions?

NC: We do talk about existing technologies as both transitional solutions and long-term solutions, but technology is nothing without an evolution in culture. We need to regain our citizenship - we have been turned into full-time consumers, and as a result, the infrastructure of our physical and mental society is in collapse. How are we going to demand that the administration - this one or the next - build green or develop better transportation systems or retool the wasteful processes of the industrial production system if we don't engage as humans on a political level? The technologies exist right now that can dramatically reduce our impact on the planet - but they are not being implemented at the scale needed to make the difference we desperately need right now. We need a societal movement on the level of the civil rights movement to take back the power we have lost, so that we can begin to push for changes that serve the greater good of people and the planet, and not just the corporate few...