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

Friday, November 30, 2007

War Zombie Futures

Naomi Klein:

...The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidise corporations rather than to regulate them; and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.

The market, however, appears to have other ideas about how to meet the challenges of an increasingly disaster-prone world. According to Lloyd, the really big money - despite all the government incentives - is turning away from clean-energy technologies, and is banking instead on gadgets that promise to seal wealthy countries and individuals into hi-tech fortresses. Key growth areas in venture capitalism are private security firms selling surveillance gear and privatised emergency response. To put it simply, in the world of venture capitalism, there has been a race going on between greens on the one hand, and guns and garrisons on the other - and the guns and garrisons are winning.

According to Venture Business Research, last year North American and European companies developing green technology were neck and neck in the contest for new investment with those companies that focused on "homeland security" and weaponry: green tech received $3.5bn (£1.7bn), and so did the guns-and-garrisons sector. But this year, guns and garrisons have suddenly leapt ahead. The greens have received $4.2bn, while the garrisons have nearly doubled their money, collecting $6bn in new investment funds. And 2007 isn't over yet.

This trend has nothing to do with real supply and demand, since the demand for clean-energy technology could not be higher. With oil now reaching nearly $100 a barrel, it is clear that we badly need green alternatives, both as consumers and as a species. The latest report from the Nobel prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was characterised by Time magazine as "a final warning to humanity", while a new Oxfam report makes it clear that the recent wave of natural disasters is no fluke: over the past two decades, the number of extreme weather events has quadrupled. Conversely, this year has seen no major terrorist events in North America or Europe, there are hints of a United States troop drawdown in Iraq, and, despite the relentless propaganda, there is no imminent threat from Iran.

So why is "homeland security", not green energy, the hot new sector? Perhaps because there are two distinct business models that can respond to our climate and energy crisis. We can develop policies and technologies to get us off this disastrous course. Or we can develop policies and technologies to protect us from those we have enraged through resource wars and displaced through climate change, while simultaneously shielding ourselves from the worst of both war and weather. (The ultimate expression of this second option is in Hummer's new television adverts: the gas-guzzler is seen carrying its cargo to safety in various disaster zones, followed by the slogan "HOPE: Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies". It's a bit like the Marlboro man doing grief counselling in a cancer ward.) In short, we can choose to fix, or we can choose to fortress. Environmental activists and scientists have been yelling for the fix. The homeland security sector, on the other hand, believes the future lies in fortresses...

Of course, there is still money to be made from going green; but there is much more green - at least in the short term - to be made from selling escape and protection. As Lloyd explains: "The failure rate of security businesses is much lower than clean-tech ones; and, as important, the capital investment required to build a successful security business is also much lower." In other words, finding solutions for real problems is hard, but turning a profit from those problems is easy.

Bush wants to leave our climate crisis to the ingenuity of the market. Well, the market has spoken: it will not take us off this disastrous course. In fact, the smart money is betting that we will stay on it.

It's the Colonel 'Merika way. "Bon Appetit!"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Working up to $election '08: Zombie Kandidates

After reading a bit about the latest Rethuglican candidate love festfeast- apparently even True Believers walked away from it saying they'd rather vote for John Edwards than any of the officious charlatans- I'll say this for the disaffected rank and file.

You aren't alone.

Jeff Wells manages to capture the hungry surreality of it all (yet again):

...There are a lot of monstrous metaphors available to describe America's descent from pulp fiction superhero to real world arch-villain, but perhaps the most apt is the zombie. There's the relentless and insatiable consumption of goods, fuel and lives which devours entire nations without thought or apology...

A vampire would be preferable. I could see trying to talk things out with one. Probably not successfully, but there's at least the vain hope. A zombie? First of all, it's already dead. And last, I'm only food. Do you explain yourself to your breakfast?

There's no coming back from Iraq. There's no homecoming for Captain America. And don't wait for a hero, because he's only going to eat you.

Another perspective may be found here, from the Rude One himself.

Ask a Silly Question

It's not like I don't take this question seriously.

Don't count on it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Undead Bipartisan Administration Memes

What exactly is going on among the advisors of the DINOcratic party this week?

..."I'm thinking about Ron Paul" as a running mate, Kucinich told a crowd of about 70 supporters at a house party here, one of numerous stops throughout New Hampshire over the Thanksgiving weekend. A Kucinich-Paul administration could bring people together "to balance the energies in this country," Kucinich said...

It's nice to see that like most of the other preznitial candidates Kucinich either:

1) Is totally clueless about the competition and/or the world he lives in, or

2) Is utterly cynical about his own campaign positions.

Take portions of both possibilities, mix well, emulsify it with T-virus,

and see how well that zombie dog hunts, too.

The Undead Zombie Violence Meme v.2

[Cross posted here, but new and improving throughout the day today]

A few years back Benedictus noted and pulled together a number of posts from a number of people I respect on the increasing acceptibility of violence in society related to the mindless response to the War on Terror.

Except it wasn't just a trend.

It's more like a chain reaction. More like a viral program. More like a meme.

We jokingly referred to the War on Terror as the War on Terra, first because of the fake accent that idiot son-of-a-Bu$h wears.

But soon we found that indeed, we're fightin' the Terra'ists where ever they appear, and don't look now, but that's a scary reflection in the mirror.

We're so beyond lynching. We don't like the idea we, the height of Western Civilization, would do uncivilized things. So Tasers are safe, because it says so, right there on the label. Primarily.

Perhaps we all have conditioned responses, and we are indeed all being conditioned.

Perhaps this is another emergent property, a meme that's become a zeitgeist of eternal war.

Perhaps you can not agree with this, or will not, or find it irrelevant.

But for your consideration, perhaps your mind is not quite your own when you see the suffering of another human and no longer factor human suffering as something to be avoided in satisfaction of your own needs. Even if your needs involve protecting yourself.

Perhaps you are thinking, or not thinking, in a way that benefits some Other, some one who profits from the chaos they've released into the world.

Colonel America says "Bon appetite".

Consider this an indictment of the blind acceptance of violence beyond the needed.

It’s a suggestion that the need for violence is being conditioned into us beyond what is normal. We’re animals. Some violence happens, and sadly enough is normal in life.

I’m no pacifist, nor am I suggesting it’s prudent to be one.

Some of that conditioning is the Law of the Jungle.

Some of that conditioning is “Let’s you and him fight”.

Much of that conditioning makes a great deal of money for the men who would be our feudal lords.

Tasers, for example, are worse than firearms as are most of the new and improved “nonlethal” weapons, because they give rise to the lie you can inflict violence that really isn’t violence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wherein HHHillary Loses Her Frelling Mind

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has been talking for some time now about how, if she is elected president, she will ask both Democratic and Republican statesmen to hit the road on her behalf to declare that “bipartisan foreign policy is back” in post-George W. Bush America.

While Mrs. Clinton has pointed to her husband as an emissary, it has been unclear for some time which Republicans she had in mind. But in South Carolina today, speaking to a group of black ministers, Mrs. Clinton dropped a name publicly that she has hinted at privately before.

“I won’t even wait until I’m inaugurated, but as soon as I’m elected I’m going to be asking distinguished Americans of both parties — people like Colin Powell, for example, and others — who can represent our country well, including someone I know very well,” Mrs. Clinton said, according to a Fox News Web report. “Because I want to send a message heard across the world. The era of cowboy diplomacy is over...”

Of course, when she says things like that you seriously have to wonder whether she ever had one in the first place.

Ezra Klein:

...Sigh. I know we're all supposed to like Powell because, without ever saying so, he hinted, that maybe, just maybe, when he was helping to sell the world on the Iraq War and fool Hillary Clinton about those weapons that didn't exist, he had some qualms about what he was doing, and much later, concluded that he'd played a critical role in engineering one of the greatest foreign policy disasters of all time. He's never said so, but occasionally he blinks twice when you bring this up, and so you can sort of tell that he's regretful, unless he just had something in his eye and was trying to get it out.

But you know what? Bringing back key members of the Bush foreign policy team probably won't restore our standing in the world. It's the sort of thing the Washington Post editorial board likes, but little more. And it is, definitionally, the old politics. Powell is an old politician, and all of his fine theories and international triumphs date to the Cold War era. This isn't the sort of thinking that will push us forward, not in the least.

That's probably the idea.

Armageddon on the Back Burner

Len Hart at The Existentialist Cowboy notes the reason for the recently flurry of negotialization by Bu$hCo:

...Two ominous developments have complicated Bush's plans to nuke Iran. One is a warning from Putin. The other --a dramatic demonstration by China. In their wake, Bush has now said he is committed to resolving the "crisis" diplomatically. But the new line was not forthcoming until after Vladimir "Pooty Poot" Putin, stated flatly and without emotion: an attack on Iran will be considered an attack on Russia. "Pooty Poot" has nukes and will use them. High-level diplomatic sources in Tehran were reported to have told the Asia Times Online that Putin and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had agreed on a plan that would nullify Bush's campaign to strike Iran preemptively with a nuclear weapon.

China, likewise, warned America's rogue psychopath. As if to underscore the point, a Chinese submarine popped up --undetected --in the middle of a Pacific Ocean exercise. The Sub was said to be "dangerously close" to the USS Kitty Hawk, having slipped past a US "shield" of a dozen warships and two US subs. US brass are "dumbfounded"!

We can only speculate about US ability to detect "subs". One would have assumed advances since the making of the early 90's film --"The Hunt for Red October". Even so -- that China has a sub that slips so effortlessly, silently past vaunted US detection technology confirms that the sub was of advanced design and equipped with advanced stealth technology. Just recently, in the comments section, I stated that China had the ability to put a nuclear sub undetected just off the US East Coast. China exceeded my prediction. I had not expected to be confirmed so quickly by events. [See: Submarine Detection]...

Bu$hCo again shows how it excels at winning hearts and minds. But please, read the whole thing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

It takes an effort.

Bill Christofferson: For antiwar Yellow Dog Dems, 1968 looms again

Six months ago, I was confidently telling people that if the Democrats couldn't win the presidency in 2008, we should just disband the party.

Lately, I have started hedging my bets.

And an hour with the front section of Sunday's The New York Times was enough to make me think that we are headed for another heartbreaking and unnecessary defeat.

What did we learn Sunday from the "liberal media?"

1. Violence is on the decline in Iraq.

2. One brigade of U.S. troops has started to pull out.

3. The troop surge has not produced the political progress that was promised, so the Bush Administration is simply downsizing its goals, to make it look like progress.

4. The Democratic presidential candidates appear ready to soften their stances, or at least their language, on Iraq and change the subject to domestic issues.

Here we go again.

We will be fooled again, it would appear. Which brings us to the question: What is an antiwar Yellow Dog Democrat to do, after reading that one of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy advisors, Michael O'Hanlon, is saying:

"The politics of Iraq are going to change dramatically in the general election, assuming Iraq continues to show some hopefulness," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a supporter of Mrs. Clinton's and a proponent of the military buildup. "If Iraq looks at least partly salvageable, it will be important to explain as a candidate how you would salvage it -- how you would get our troops out and not lose the war. The Democrats need to be very careful with what they say and not hem themselves in."

Ah, yes, caution is certainly called for. You wouldn't want to be too strongly against the war when only 60 to 70 percent of the American people think it was a mistake, want to end it, and bring our troops home.

After four and a half years of bloodshed, it is hard to believe -- no, I refuse to believe -- that any kind of minimal gains and Republican propaganda campaign will swing what is now a silent antiwar majority in the other direction.

A reduction in carnage and fewer U.S. troops in harm's way are good news. The unasked question is always "compared to what?" Troop levels will still be higher than before the surge, and violence levels are said to be the lowest since February 2006, a high water mark after the bombing of a Shiite mosque. But the number of U.S. troops killed in 2007 remains the highest of any year since the war began.

That is hardly a cause to celebrate or for Democrats to change course. The cautious general election strategy of trying to appeal to everyone by saying nothing -- the Democrats' secret plan in recent years -- hasn't worked too well.

It isn't what won them the Congress in 2006. Disgust at the venal, Imperial Rethuglicans sent the Dems to Congress, not quisling strategery.

...While the Dems try desperately to peel a few votes off of the Republican base, the GOP plays to its base, although softening it with a little "compassionate conservative" talk now and then.

The leading Democratic candidates already have refused to say they will have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2013. But that's the Big Three -- Obama, Clinton, and Edwards. Kucinich and Dodd would move more quickly. Then there's this: One candidate favors withdrawing all troops immediately and unconditionally: Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico...

Eugene McCarthy didn't win the nomination in 1968, of course. But his antiwar campaign forced a sitting president, Mr. LBJ, to drop out of the race. And the eventual nominee of the fractured party, Mr. HHH, went down to defeat because many in the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party saw him as more of the same, another hawk, and withheld their votes.

Others were horrified by what they saw in the streets of Chicago and in the convention hall, and turned away from Humphrey, too.

So, here's a scenario: Clinton wins most of the early primaries, Edwards and Obama drop out or are crippled, and Richardson -- recognizing that he won't get the nomination -- takes up the cause, on principle, and becomes a strident antiwar candidate, competing for delegates in the many remaining states.

In late August, Democrats at their national convention in Denver are split over the platform plank on Iraq, but Clinton and the voices of triangularization prevail. Maybe there's even a strong antiwar presence in the streets of Denver.

The war grinds on, but it's less of an issue, since the Democratic candidate voted for the war, says she'd do it again, and says there will be no precipitous withdrawal of troops.

I ask again: What is an antiwar Yellow Dog Democrat to do?

Vote Democrat, with the realization that she'll get spanked by the 'thugs in the $election. If by some miracle she wins, figure out the way to make Iraq and Empire really unprofitable for the faction of the Company she really represents. I'd say development of a clean inexpensive biofuel should do it.

Reality is Biased Towards the Real

So the latest main$tream talking point seems to be that Bu$hie knew nothing about bin Laden's plan to crash airplanes into skyscrapers prior to 9/11, and to think otherwise is to embrace unfounded conspiracy theories.

Either that, or to actually be able to read the 9-11 Comission's Final Report...

But Think Progress has summarized the facts on this aspect of things for you:

1) Bush received intel briefing on Aug. 6, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US.” The briefing specifically warned to “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks,” particularly targeted at New York.

2) CIA Director George Tenet briefing Condoleezza Rice and other top administration officials on July 10, 2001 about a specific urgent and looming threat from al Qaeda.

3) An FBI agent in Phoenix sent a memo to FBI headquarters on July 10, 2001, which advised of the “possibility of a coordinated effort” by bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation schools.

David Neiwert at Orcinus covers this in a more detailed fashion.

At the very least, Bu$hie's inaction prior to 9-11 was comparable to his inaction in response to hurricane Katrina. The motivations behind the inaction are a matter of conjecture. Whatever Dear Leader's motivations were, there is no doubt there were and are unscrupulous associates of his that seemed quite ready to take advantage of the chaos to further their own agendas.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Gore Vidal:

...As I pass through the stage door of one auditorium after another, I now hear the ominous name of Darth Vader, as edgy audiences shudder at the horrible direction our political discourse has taken. Ever eager as I am to shed light, I sometimes drop the name of the least publicized applicant to the creaky throne of the West: Dennis Kucinich.

It takes a moment for the name to sink in.

Then genuine applause begins. He is very much a favorite out there in the amber fields of grain, and I work him into the text. A member of the House of Representatives for five terms since 1997, although many of his legislative measures have been too useful and original for our brain-dead media to comprehend. I note his well-wrought articles proposing the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, testing the patriotic nerves of his fellow Democrats, but then the fact of his useful existence often causes distress to those who genuinely hate that democracy he is so eager to extend. "Don't waste your vote," they whine in unison--as if our votes are not quadrennially wasted on those marvelous occasions when they are actually counted and recorded.

Meanwhile, Kucinich is now at least visible in lineups of the Democratic candidates; he tends to be the most eloquent of the lot. So who is he?

Something of a political prodigy: at 31 he was elected mayor of Cleveland. Once he had been installed, in 1978, the city's lordly banks wanted the new mayor to sell off the city's municipally owned electric system, Muny Light, to a private competitor in which (Oh, America!) the banks had a financial interest. When Mayor Kucinich refused to sell, the money lords took their revenge, as they are wont to do: they refused to roll over the city's debt, pushing the city into default.

The ensuing crisis revealed the banks' criminal involvement with the private utility of their choice, CEI, which, had it acquired Muny Light, would have become a monopoly, as five of the six lordly banks had almost 1.8 million shares of CEI stock: this is Enronesque before the fact.

Mayor Kucinich was not re-elected, but his profile was clearly etched on the consciousness of his city; and in due course he returned to the Cleveland City Council before being elected to the Ohio State Senate and then the US Congress.

Kucinich has also written a description of his Dickensian youth, growing up in Cleveland. He has firsthand knowledge of urban poverty in the world's richest nation. Born in 1946 into a Croatian Catholic family, by the time he was 17 he and his family had lived in twenty-one different places, much of which he describes in Dreiserian detail in a just-published memoir.

Kucinich is opposed to the death penalty as well as the USA Patriot Act. In 1998 and 2004 he was a US delegate to the United Nations convention on climate change. At home he has been active in Rust Belt affairs, working to preserve the ninety-
year-old Cleveland steel industry, a task of the sort that will confront the next President should he or she have sufficient interest in these details.

I asked a dedicated liberal his impression of Kucinich; he wondered if Kucinich was too slight to lead a nation of truly fat folk. I pointed out that he has the same physical stature as James Madison, as well as a Madisonian commitment to our 1789 Constitution; he is also farsighted, as demonstrated by his resolute opposition to Bush's cries for ever more funding for the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More to the point, in October 2002 he opposed the notion of a war then being debated. For those of us at home and in harm's way from disease, he co-wrote HR 676, a bill that would insure all of us within Medicare, just as if we were citizens of a truly civilized nation.

Foreclosure foresight

the farmer has a nice post on how the alarm bells were ringing even in the main$tream media about the subprime charlatans a couple of years ago, while Greenspan and the rest of Bu$hCo were cheerleading it on.

Then, of course, there's Krugman.

I particularly relish this description of the farmer's:

...This woodchuck in the White House isn't a statesman, or a leader, or even a President. He's nothing but a shallow shined up repo-man with a smirk and a sloppy spitter pitch. The entire G.W.Bush&Co operation is nothing more than a well fed puzzle palace inside a Potemkin Village being run by grifters for christ sake. Nothing more than a clan of inbred cheapjack fast talking backdoor preachers and quisling swine.

They need to be run out of town like the rapacious swindlers they are. Before they steal all the goddamned doorknobs and we won't even be able to get into our own house.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


From cectic, with thanks to Pharyngula.

But some are less compelling than others...

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Arrgghh. The stoopid, it burns!

On the op-ed page of The New York Pravda, the key sentence of idiocy:

...The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed...

No, you idiot, the whole system of thought we call modern science continually tests the universe. The universe doesn't change depending on what we think, and it really doesn't matter what we expect. It is what it is.

A rational and intelligible way. Good grief, has the writer ever examined quantum theory? There is nothing rational about a universe that requires string theory to explain it.

Whole branches of mathematics have had to be developed to explain chaos that occurs throughout nature. Of course, the writer never took enough science in college to realize that. No matter, his backdoor appeal to intelligent design pleases the corporate sponsors of The New York Pravda.

This is another case of

Depravity and Dementia

Richard Power gives a good rundown on Depravity in the Village. With links I'm omitting here:

...just think about what it means that Friedman would invoke Cheney as some sort of example of political strength or clarity of strategic thinking.

Such a notion reveals Friedman's depravity, with a chilling finality.


Cheney, the man whose office, according to Patrick Fitzgerald's statement in open court, has "a dark cloud" hanging over it in regard to the betrayal of US secret agent Valerie Plame's identity?

Cheney, the man who cooked the intelligence on Iraq, and is doing so again on Iran?

Cheney, the man whose secret, pre-9/11 energy plans, drawn up with Ken Lay, divvied up the oil fields of Iraq?

Cheney, the man who, according to the sworn 9/11 commission testimony of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, sat on his hands as a highjacked plane flew through Beltwayistan's restriced air space? (Was he hoping it was aimed at the Capitol Dome?)

Cheney, the man who threatened Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) with "dire consequences" if he opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq? (Wellstone died in a small plane crash shortly before the 2004 election, which he was certain to win.)

Cheney, the man who, as a member of Congress, voted against Martin Luther King Day?

Cheney, the man who, as a member of Congress, voted against a resolution to free Nelson Mandela from prison?

Cheney, who shot a fellow hunter in the face and then ducked the police for 24 hours?

Tom Friedman says Obama should dial down his "inner Jimmy Carter" and dial up his "inner Dick Cheney"?

Jimmy Carter wanted to get the US off of its desperate dependence on Middle Eastern oil, Jimmy Carter understood that there would be no peace without human rights.

Jimmy Carter understood the 21st Century a quarter of a century before it dawned.

Tom Friedman doesn't even understand it now.

You should read it all if you can, and follow the links if you don't believe it.

McClellan and Tom Friedman aside, Bob Herbert examines a whole different dimension of depravity today:

...I’ve been visiting some of the people who have been most affected by the subprime mortgage debacle. It’s a largely bewildered, frightened group that includes people like Dorothy Levey, a 79-year-old widow who sits alone inside the small house she has lived in for 41 years, afraid to answer the telephone or the door.

She has every reason to be worried. The monthly note on her house in the city of Markham, just outside Chicago, is approximately 100 percent of her meager monthly income. Broke and behind in her payments, Ms. Levey expects a foreclosure notice to show up any day, followed by a visit from “the sheriff, or whoever they send to tell you to get out of your own home.”

While the media coverage has focused on the high rollers who created the subprime frenzy (“If you can breathe, we’ll give you a loan”), the hapless victims have remained in the shadows, condemned to economic ruin.

After faithfully making mortgage payments for decades, Ms. Levey and her husband, Dan, were persuaded to take out a new loan, ostensibly for debt consolidation, in 2002. It was like plunging into quicksand. Dan was seriously ill at the time and he died two years later.

To this day Ms. Levey does not understand what she and her husband of more than half a century had agreed to. The terms might as well have been written in Sanskrit.

But she kept trying to meet her obligation. She exhausted her savings. She lost her car. She stopped buying clothes and cut back on food. But there was no way to keep up with the payments.

“I had to go to the state and tell them I was hungry,” she said.

I heard the same story again and again — decent people enticed, sometimes fraudulently, into loans they never understood and couldn’t afford...

After Countrywide bought our 30 year fixed rate mortgage about 5 years ago we were immediately deluged with offers for amazingly low but "adjustable" rate mortgages. These offers were and are incessant. They have caused a lot of strife in our marriage, since for a few years I was accused of being all kinds of a fool for not taking advantage of them. By my wife among other professional peers.

No more.

But you still see that sort of blind trust in authority, even among people who have no excuse for not knowing better.

You still get their ridicule if you point out the incredible underlying fallacies behind the positions of Hilbama. Or Paul.

You still get the assertion that it's really okay, that some kinds of quicksand are quicker than others, and this must surely be the slow motion variety.

You still get that blind trust when the people who put the shades on you are telling you exactly what you want to hear.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Better to Write You Tickets With, My Dear

Quoth the Dark Wraith:

Apparently these drones launch off a catapult, and are captured mid flight without needing a runway.

...Oh, good readers, you SO have to read this story out of Houston about police doing a secret test/demonstration of those unmanned military spy drones for use in civilian policing. Not only did the Houston Police Department try to keep the media from finding out about the big shindig, but they surrounded the test areas with cop cars; and when they realized that a news team was filming the whole thing from a helicopter, they even lied through their teeth that the FAA had restricted the flight area. (Knowingly misrepresenting a federal rule is, by the way, not only stupid, it's unlawful; so here we have a police department of a major American city willfully breaking federal law.)

Video here

...Just read the article. By the end, you'll see the Houston police representatives dancing all around, doing everything they can to avoid admitting to what this latest militarization of civilian law enforcement is all about. And once you've finished reading the article, ask yourself which candidates for local, state, and/or national office are promising that they'll stop this whole, Orwellian madness right in its tracks. (PREDICTION: I'll bet you end up saying, "None that I can recall.")

What the gullible Houston police probably didn't realize is that Insitu, Inc., the company that makes the drones, likely regards all the publicity as a plus.

This is the basic problem with all the DARPA-bankrolled projects: even top secret technologies are marketable for the companies that develop them.

And eager to market they are. Here's what they say on their own site:

...Insitu's people and products bring unique capabilities and benefits to our customers:

Experience—Over 60,000 ScanEagle™UAV flight hours in theater since 2004

Service—Our growing team is experienced, seasoned, innovative, and responsive like no other

Endurance—Over 20 hours possible per flight, day & night

Low Cost—Economical operations and systems permit selective expendability

Persistence—Insitu's inertially stabilized camera turret, plus endurance, plus Insitu's ObjectTracker target tracking technology, keep objects of interest in view

Weather—Wide envelope. Reliable operations in winds over 35 knots, through significant precipitation, and beneath clouds

Crosswind—Good. Operates in crosswinds that ground other UAVs, needs no runway

Runway—None. Unprepared terrain or shipboard operations made easy with Insitu's SuperWedge™ Launcher and SkyHook™ Retrieval System

Stealthy—Nearly impossible to hear or see an Insitu UAV even at close range

Modular—Modular design means components are easily replaced in the field

Lean—Small, light weight UAV, compact ground support equipment, no runway, and autonomous operations mean low personnel requirements and very small footprint

Expandable—Avionics bay has available slot for easy integration of new UAV payloads...

Black Friday Working Class Hero

Working Class Hero
by John Lennon

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and class less and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

50,000 Volt Motivation

Naomi Klein:

The world saw a video last week of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers using a Taser against a Polish man in the Vancouver International Airport in October. The man, Robert Dziekanski, died soon after the attack. In recent days, more details have come out about him. It turns out that the 40-year-old didn’t just die after being shocked — his life was marked by shock as well.

Dziekanski was a young adult in 1989, when Poland began a grand experiment called “shock therapy” for the nation. The promise was that if the communist country accepted a series of brutal economic measures, the reward would be a “normal European country” like France or Germany. The pain would be short, the reward great.

So Poland’s government eliminated price controls overnight, slashed subsidies, privatized industries. But for young workers such as Dziekanski, “normal” never arrived. Today, roughly 40% of young Polish workers are unemployed. Dziekanski was among them. He had worked as a typesetter and a miner, but for the last few years, he had been unemployed and had had run-ins with the law.

Like so many Poles of his generation, Dziekanski went looking for work in one of those “normal” countries that Poland was supposed to become but never did. Two million Poles have joined this mass exodus during the last three years alone. Dziekanski’s cohorts have gone to work as bartenders in London, doormen in Dublin, plumbers in France. Last month, he chose to follow his mother to British Columbia, Canada, which is in a pre-Olympics construction boom.

“After seven years of waiting, [Dziekanski] arrived to his utopia, Vancouver,” said the Polish consul general, Maciej Krych. “Ten hours later, he was dead.”

Much of the outrage sparked by the video, which was made by another passenger at the airport, has focused on the controversial use of Tasers, already implicated in 17 deaths in Canada and many more in the United States.

But what happened in Vancouver was about more than a weapon. It was also about an increasingly brutal side of the global economy — about the reality that many victims of various forms of economic “shock therapy” face at our borders.

Rapid economic transformations like Poland’s have created enormous wealth — in new investment opportunities; currency trading; in leaner, meaner companies able to comb the globe for the cheapest location to manufacture. But from Mexico to China to Poland, they also have created tens of millions of discarded people, the people who lose their jobs when factories close or lose their land when export zones open.

Understandably, many of these people often choose to move: from countryside to city, from country to country. As Dziekanski appeared to be doing, they go in search of that elusive “normal.”

But there isn’t enough normal to go around, or so we are told. And so, as migrants move, they are often met with other shocks. A treacherous razor fence protecting Spain’s North Africa enclaves, or a Taser gun on the U.S.-Mexican border. Canada, which used to be known around the world for its openness to refugees, is militarizing its borders, with lines between immigrant and terrorist blurring fast.

Dziekanski’s inhuman treatment at the hands of the Canadian police must be seen in this context. The police were called when Dziekanski, lost and disoriented, began shouting in Polish, at one point throwing a chair. Faced with a foreigner like Dziekanski, who spoke no English, why talk when you can shock? It strikes me that the same brutal, short-cut logic guided Poland’s economic transition to capitalism: Why take the gradual route, which required debate and consent, when “shock therapy” promised an instant, if painful, cure?

I realize that I am talking about very different kinds of shocks here, but they do interconnect in a cycle I call “the shock doctrine.” First comes the shock of a national crisis, making countries desperate for any cure and willing to sacrifice democracy in the process. In Poland in 1989, that first shock was the sudden end of communism and the economic meltdown. Then comes the economic shock therapy, the undemocratic process pushed through in the window of crisis that jolts an economy into growth but blasts so many people out of the picture.

Then, in far too many cases, there is the third shock, the one that disciplines and deals with the discarded people: the desperate, the migrants, those driven mad by the system.

Each shock has the potential to kill, some more suddenly than others.

Luckylefty at Common Dreams gives the best analysis:

...IMF/WTO/World Bank = Sugar, Rum, & Slaves. No Middle Class anywhere to be seen. It was the same 3 centuries ago. It is the same now.

Oligarchies always create plantation slave societies. Corporations are always backed by military force. Back then it was the Hudson’s Bay Co. & the British East India Co. backed by the British Navy & the Royal Cumbrians. Now its the Multinationals, the 7th Fleet, & the Screaming Eagles.

It’s the Oligarchy/Plutocracy/Aristocracy - neighbor. They always create plantation slave societies. We can cut around the edges or we can cut out the diseased core.

The Roosevelt Legacy of taxation, corporate regulation, a meaningful minimum wage, support for unions, and a real social safety net - put the Oligarchy on a leash. They were not free to rape pillage and burn our country to the ground...

After 30 years these policies produced by the mid-60’s the greatest distribution of wealth ever seen in the history of our species, and 35% unionization of the private sector.

The end of poverty in this country was in sight. Lifetime stable employment was on the horizon. A house was not a ‘get rich scheme’, it was a place to live and raise your family. And yeah, the richfilth class was nearly moribund. Period . Caput. On their way to the trash heap of history along with the Hapsburgs, the Romanoffs, & the Hohenzollerns.

We had a choice then. We have the same choice now. We can make a place for everyone at the table and reject war and conquest as a way of life - or we get more of what we’ve got right now: Sugar, Rum, & Slaves. Breeds monsters.

Oil, Energy, and Consumers fits the new feudalism about right.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I am glad the multiverse is not only stranger than I suppose, but stranger than I can suppose.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Inconvenient Truth in Cheneyburton Paradise

As much as Big Time Dick wants to git his Iran On, too many people know too much.

November 22, 2007
Foreign Fighters in Iraq Are Tied to Allies of U.S.

BAGHDAD — Saudi Arabia and Libya, both considered allies by the United States in its fight against terrorism, were the source of about 60 percent of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq in the past year to serve as suicide bombers or to facilitate other attacks, according to senior American military officials.

The data come largely from a trove of documents and computers discovered in September, when American forces raided a tent camp in the desert near Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. The raid’s target was an insurgent cell believed to be responsible for smuggling the vast majority of foreign fighters into Iraq.

The most significant discovery was a collection of biographical sketches that listed hometowns and other details for more than 700 fighters brought into Iraq since August 2006.

The records also underscore how the insurgency in Iraq remains both overwhelmingly Iraqi and Sunni. American officials now estimate that the flow of foreign fighters was 80 to 110 per month during the first half of this year and about 60 per month during the summer. The numbers fell sharply in October to no more than 40, partly as a result of the Sinjar raid, the American officials say.

Saudis accounted for the largest number of fighters listed on the records by far — 305, or 41 percent — American intelligence officers found as they combed through documents and computers in the weeks after the raid. The data show that despite increased efforts by Saudi Arabia to clamp down on would-be terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, some Saudi fighters are still getting through.

Libyans accounted for 137 foreign fighters, or 18 percent of the total, the senior American military officials said. They discussed the raid with the stipulation that they not be named because of the delicate nature of the issue.

United States officials have previously offered only rough estimates of the breakdown of foreign fighters inside Iraq. But the trove found in Sinjar is so vast and detailed that American officials believe that the patterns and percentages revealed by it offer for the first time a far more precise account of the personal circumstances of foreign fighters throughout the country.

In contrast to the comparatively small number of foreigners, more than 25,000 inmates are in American detention centers in Iraq. Of those, only about 290, or some 1.2 percent, are foreigners, military officials say.

They contend that all of the detainees either are suspected of insurgent activity or are an “imperative threat” to security. Some American officials also believe that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown insurgent group that claims a loose allegiance to Osama bin Laden, may by itself have as many as 10,000 members in Iraq.

About four out of every five detainees in American detention centers are Sunni Arab, even though Sunni Arabs make up just one-fifth of Iraq’s population. All of the foreign fighters listed on the materials found near Sinjar, excluding two from France, also came from countries that are predominantly Sunni.

Over the years, the Syrian border has been the principal entry point into Iraq for foreign insurgents, officials say. Many had come through Anbar Province, in west-central Iraq. But with the Sunni tribal revolt against extremist militants that began last year in Anbar, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other jihadists concentrated their smuggling efforts on the area north of the Euphrates River along the Syrian border, the officials said.

The officials added that, based on the captured documents and other intelligence, they believe that the Sinjar cell that was raided in September was responsible for the smuggling of foreign fighters along a stretch of the border from Qaim, in Anbar, almost to the border with Turkey, a length of nearly 200 miles. They said that was why they were confident that the cell was responsible for such a large portion of the incoming foreign fighters.

American military and diplomatic officials who discussed the flow of fighters from Saudi Arabia were careful to draw a distinction between the Saudi government and the charities and individuals who they said encouraged young Saudi men to fight in Iraq. After United States officials put pressure on Saudi leaders in the summer, the Saudi government took some steps that have begun to curb the flow of fighters, the officials said.

Yet the senior American military officials said they also believed that Saudi citizens provided the majority of financing for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. “They don’t want to see the Shias come to dominate in Iraq,” one American official said.

The Sinjar materials showed that 291 fighters, or about 39 percent, came from North African nations during the period beginning in August 2006. That is far higher than previous military estimates of 10 to 13 percent from North Africa. The largest foreign fighter hometown was Darnah, Libya, which supplied 50 fighters.

For years American officials included Libya on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But last year the United States removed it from that list and re-established full diplomatic relations, citing what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described as Libya’s “continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation” it has provided in the antiterrorism fight.

Also striking among the Sinjar materials were the smaller numbers from other countries that had been thought to be major suppliers of foreign fighters. As recently as the summer, American officials estimated that 20 percent came from Syria and Lebanon. But there were no Lebanese listed among the Sinjar trove, and only 56 Syrians, or 8 percent of the total.

American officials have accused Iran, the largest Shiite nation in the Middle East, of sending powerful bombs to Iraq and of supporting and financing Shiite militias that attack American troops. They also contend that top Iranian leaders support efforts to arm Shiite fighters.

But whatever aid Iran provides to militias inside Iraq does not seem to extend to supplying actual combatants: Only 11 Iranians are in American detention, United States officials say.

After the raid on the Sinjar cell, the number of suicide bombings in Iraq fell to 16 in October — half the number seen during the summer months and down sharply from a peak of 59 in March. American military officials believe that perhaps 90 percent of such bombings are carried out by foreign fighters. They also believe that about half of the foreign fighters who come to Iraq become suicide bombers.

“We cut the head off, but the tail is still left,” warned one of the senior American military officials, discussing the aftermath of the Sinjar raid. “Regeneration is completely within the realm of possibility.”

The documents indicate that each foreigner brought about $1,000 with him, used mostly to finance operations of the smuggling cell. Saudis brought more money per person than fighters from other nations, the American officials said.

Among the Saudi fighters described in the materials, 45 had come from Riyadh, 38 from Mecca, 20 from Buraidah and the surrounding area, 15 from Jawf and Sakakah, 13 from Jidda, and 12 from Medina.

American officials publicly expressed anger over the summer at Saudi policies that were destabilizing Iraq. Sunni tribal sheiks in Iraq who risked their lives to fight extremist militants also faulted Saudi clerics.

“The bad imams tell the young people to go to Iraq and fight the American Army, because if you kill them or they kill you, you will go to paradise,” Sheik Adnan Khames Jamiel, a leader of the Albu Alwan tribe in Ramadi, said in an interview...

We sympathize, Sheik Jamiel. In America, it is much the same...

When the World is Going Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around

...after all, all that money has to go somewhere.

...Rarely on Wall Street, where money travels in herds, has one firm gotten it so right when nearly everyone else was getting it so wrong. So far, three banking chief executives have been forced to resign after the debacle, and the pay for nearly all the survivors is expected to be cut deeply...

Nearly all, meaning the little people, of course.

...Late last year, as the markets roared along, David A. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, called a “mortgage risk” meeting in his meticulous 30th-floor office in Lower Manhattan.

At that point, the holdings of Goldman’s mortgage desk were down somewhat, but the notoriously nervous Mr. Viniar was worried about bigger problems. After reviewing the full portfolio with other executives, his message was clear: the bank should reduce its stockpile of mortgages and mortgage-related securities and buy expensive insurance as protection against further losses, a person briefed on the meeting said. ..

Funny how nobody could see that except for Goldman-Sachs, Atrios, and pretty much the entire progressive bubble of cyberspace.

...Even Goldman, which saw the problems coming, continued to package risky mortgages to sell to investors. Some of those investors took losses on those securities, while Goldman’s hedges were profitable.

When the credit markets seized up in late July, Goldman was in the enviable position of having offloaded the toxic products that Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, UBS, Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley, among others, had kept buying...

That touches me, somewhere. You could call it the Colonel Amerika way.

...Robert E. Rubin, a former Goldman head, is the new chairman of Citigroup. In Washington, another former chief, Henry M. Paulson Jr., is the Treasury secretary, having been recruited by Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff and yet another former Goldman executive.

The heads of the Canadian and Italian central banks are Goldman alumni. The World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, is another. Jon S. Corzine, once a co-chairman, is the governor of New Jersey. And in academia, Robert S. Kaplan, a former vice chairman, has just been picked as the interim head of Harvard University’s $35 billion endowment.

Since going public in 1999, Goldman has been the No. 1 mergers and acquisitions adviser, globally and in the United States, with two exceptions: in 2005 it came in second in the United States rankings, and in 2000 it lost the top spot globally. In both instances, Morgan Stanley took the lead, according to Dealogic...

...this bottom-line approach has turned off some Goldman veterans and clients. They see the firm’s desire to advise, finance and invest — a so-called triple play — as antithetical to Goldman’s stated No. 1 business principle of putting clients first...

...“While the integration of our investment banking operations with our merchant bank was somewhat controversial at the time, we felt these businesses were mutually reinforcing...”

...In the race for president, Goldman Sachs executives are the top contributors to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and the second highest contributor to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Blankfein has held a fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton in his apartment and has come out publicly in her favor.

Another member of Goldman’s influential diaspora is Philip D. Murphy, a retired executive who is the chief fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee.

All of which has made Goldman a favorite of conspiracy theorists, columnists and bloggers who see the firm as a Wall Street version of the Trilateral Commission.

One particular obsession is President Bush’s working group on the markets, an informal committee led by Mr. Paulson that includes Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve; Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Walter Lukken, the acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The group meets about once a quarter — privately, with no minutes taken — to ensure that government agencies are briefed on market conditions and issues. The group is currently examining the extent to which the packaging and distribution of mortgage loans contributed to the crisis. It also recently completed a study recommending that hedge funds not be subject to further regulation; the group’s fund committee was led by Eric Mindich, a former Goldman trader who now runs a successful hedge fund.

There is no evidence that the conduct of the group is anything but above board. But to some, the group’s existence adds more color to the view that Goldman is indeed everywhere — much as J. P. Morgan was in the early years of the 20th century.

...When asked at a conference how he hoped to take advantage of his competitors’ weakened position, he said Goldman was focused on making fewer mistakes. But he wryly observed that the firm would surely take it on the chin at some point, too.

“Everybody,” he said, “gets their turn.”


Of course, some turns spin better than others.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where The Winners Lose

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Shareholders in the securities industry are having their worst year since 2002, losing $74 billion of their equity. That won't prevent Wall Street from paying record bonuses, totaling almost $38 billion.

That money, split among about 186,000 workers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., equates to an average of $201,500 per person, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The five biggest U.S. securities firms paid $36 billion to employees last year.

The bigger bonus pool derives from a record $9 billion of fees for arranging acquisitions and $5 billion for underwriting initial public offerings and sales of junk bonds, the most lucrative securities, Bloomberg data show. Bankers' record fees help explain why 2007 will prove to be the industry's second- most profitable after the subprime mortgage market collapse led to losses at Merrill and Bear Stearns. The last time bonuses declined was 2002 when the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 23 percent, and Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. went bankrupt.

Goldman's record earnings and gains at Morgan Stanley and Lehman mean all the New York-based firms will be forced to pay more in a year when all but Goldman lost more than 20 percent of their market value...

Securities firms typically use slightly less than 50 percent of their revenue to pay salaries, benefits and bonuses, a percentage that firms adjust throughout the year. This year's bonus estimate was based on the five-year average ratio at each of the five firms. Year-end bonuses usually account for about 60 percent of compensation.

In the first nine months of 2007, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Merrill, Lehman and Bear Stearns told their shareholders that they set aside $52.4 billion for compensation, up 9 percent from a year earlier. For the whole year, the figure rises to $62.5 billion, according to analysts' estimates that combined revenue at the five largest securities firms will climb 1.7 percent to $135 billion.

That brings bonuses to almost $38 billion. The total increases when bonuses for employees at hedge funds, leveraged buyout firms and banks such as New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG are included.

The industry's bonuses are larger than the gross domestic products of Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Bulgaria. The average $201,500 bonus is more than four times the $48,201 median household income in the U.S. last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics...

Let Them Drink Bud

T. Rex asks what happens when the water's gone?

...We keep hearing about how the Georgia reservoirs have about eighty days of water left. The question nobody seems to be interested in answering (or even contemplating) is exactly what will happen to Atlanta and the surrounding area when those reservoirs actually run out, and everyone in North Georgia turns on their taps and nothing comes out...

...If the state and federal government are too muddle-headed to come up with a workable plan, that can only mean one thing; that when the excrement hits the rotational ventilation device, a whole bunch of people who are already rich will get even richer as gallons of fresh water skyrocket in price and things start to get nasty. Ask Naomi Klein. She’ll tell you what’s up. Republicans live for this shiz...

Fo' shizzle. Chaos is tha plizzay!

Make that some Republicans, the ones who own the show, T. Rex.

For them, chaos is the Word of the Lord.

This could be the key to breaking the blue state governments: if the South and the West go all Sahara, there is always the largest source of fresh water in North America, and the only climate where it still rains regularly.

You can bet the blue state governments will do their best to stop the feds from draining the Great Lakes.

You can bet the red feds will enjoy every opportunity to override blue states rights.

They'll consider it payback to the old Union for the Confederacy, as they squander the water in the desert of the real.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not What Faux Said

Or MSGOP either...


IAEA: Iran Has No Nuke Program

Heathlander at Eurotrib, Professor Farideh Farhi at Juan Cole's blog and Jim Herring at Col. Pat Lang's place explain the content of the recent IAEA report (pdf at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/files/IranIAEAreportNov15.pdf)
(for some reason Blogspot will not allow that link- interesting, no?) on Iran's nuclear energy program.

They conclude that the characterizing of that report in the 'western' mainstream media was severely distorting and did not reflect the central findings of the IAEA report.

These are:

* IAEA inspections and information requests are continuing and Iran is cooperating and answering to such as it is obliged to do.
* The inspections and investigations, done intrusively over years, have not unearthed any piece of evidence that the legitimate nuclear program Iran persues has any military aspect.
* Iran is within its full contractual international legal obligations in persuing civil Uranium enrichment. It does do so and the process is under full IAEA control.

Still the above authors and the IAEA miss to highlight one aspect I find important.

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the eminent legal and religious authority of the country, in 2005 released a binding ruling (Fatwa) that pursuing any nuclear weapon program would be against the law and religious doctrine of Iran. The president of Iran has recently again confirmed this position.

These are serious declarations by state leaders which can not be simply withdrawn within the system they are operating in. There would have to be revolutionary events to make these statements obsolete. Such events are unlikely.

Again, this is not what CNN- or, doubtless, the Cheneyburton Corporation would have you believe.

Nice to see the disinformation machine still wants to git its War On.

Damn the torpedoes and the $200 a barrel oil too, baby. What's good for Exxon is good for 'Merika, too.

Black Budget Items

Noah Shachtman picks up on another one:

More than $20 billion in U.S. government contracts for work in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone unidentified "foreign companies whose identities — at least so far — are impossible to determine," according to a new study from the Center for Public Integrity.

That's even more than the $16 billion earned by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Private security firm DynCorp came behind KBR, raking in $1.8 billion between 2004 and 2006. By comparison, Blackwater USA -- whose guards were just subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, BTW -- nabbed a mere $485 million...

Bandar Bu$h strikes again, one supposes.

It must be nice to hold the lien on L'il Boots, or profitable anyway...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why L'il Boots Loves His Waterboard

Larisa Alexandrovna and Alan Dershowitz are having it out over the use of torture, that staple of the culture of cruelty.

As in staple in your head.

Another thing about torture: aside from its immorality and its ineffectiveness at producing reliable information, there is one thing it is very good at doing.

Torture is very good at forcing people to say what you want them to say.

If your aim is to fix your intelligence around a predetermined policy, torture is your oyster.

That's why the Cheneyburton Corporation and L'il Boots love it so much.

You Can Not Make This Stoopid Up

So apparently the dynamic and Very Serious NeoLiberal duo of Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon are suggesting in The New York Pravda

...we'd better get ready to deploy "a sizable combat force" to Pakistan for a mission that "would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership."

The comments thread to Yglesias's post says it all.

Never Look an Elder God in the Face

War being one of the oldest gods terrorizing the human race.

Only in the Australian news, from a French news agency:

The US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an investigation by US television network CBS.

At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17 a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population.

While the suicide rate among the general population was 8.9 per 100,000, the level among veterans was between 18.7 and 20.8 per 100,000.

That figure rose to 22.9 to 31.9 suicides per 100,000 among veterans aged 20 to 24 - almost four times the non-veteran average for the age group.

"Those numbers clearly show an epidemic of mental health problems,'' CBS quoted veterans' rights advocate Paul Sullivan as saying.

CBS quoted the father of a 23-year-old soldier who shot himself in 2005 as saying the military did not want the true scale of the problem to be known.

"Nobody wants to tally it up in the form of a government total,'' Mike Bowman said.

"They don't want the true numbers of casualties to really be known.''

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bad Idea

More idiocy from venture capitalists. Even the morons at Pfizer walked away from this dog. You do not inhale insulin.

Aside from its ridiculously short half life, insulin has profound effects on respiratory tissue, which is only specialized for the exchange of O2 and CO2.

Many of these effect lead to hyperplasia of respiratory and smooth muscle cells in the lung.

Can you say "a lead-in to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease"?

I thought you could.

Dust Up

...In the early evening scene, a satellite seems to streak through the branches, while bright, round, fuzzy Comet Holmes appears to lie just beyond them, near the stars of the constellation Perseus. Mirfak, alpha star of Perseus, is the brightest star above the comet and to the right. Next Monday (November 19), Holmes will be close enough to Mirfak to view the star through the remarkable comet's expanding coma. Recent measurements place the dusty coma's diameter at about 1.4 million kilometers, even larger than the Sun.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just Askin'

Whatcha gonna do if it doesn't rain?

Oh yes, Lou Dobbs sez the issue is illegal immigrants, so get all pissed about the Messicans.

No, no, no, the issue is Social Securty. No, no, no, the issue is the Wahr on Drugs. No, no, no, the issue is the Terra'ists.

And the TV weatherman sez don't pay attention to that global warming scaremongering.

But that water bit... it's a problem everywhere.

It's just some places are little further along than others...

And all those other issues, they reflect like facets off of the change, and the harder people sweat to keep things the way they've always been, the faster the world changes into something it's never been.

As long as the changes that need to be made are unthinkable, we'll be running to into change without the least bit of thought.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Condi's Girl and the Clinton Collection Agency

It's the Opposition vs. Big Time Dick's boy.

It's kabuki with nukies, courtesy of different factions of the Company.

As Greg Palast points out, the Cheneyburton Company didn't just pull Musharraf out of their hat, as much as they've cozied right up to him.

Trojan Horse Candidate

Just go read what Orcinus has to say today, and watch the vids.

...What does this all mean? Does it mean Ron Paul is fronting for fascists? Does it mean he's a racist? Or is it something more complex, but equally disturbing?

Every presidential candidate attracts cranks, racists, kooks, conspiracy theorists, radicals of various stripes, and assorted fringe actors to their campaigns -- some more than others. Generally speaking, it's not worth paying a lot of attention to, because their numbers typically are quite small, and most of those involved are idiosyncratic -- that is, they only coincidentally reflect on the candidate themselves, if at all. They're irrelevant.

But people who track the activities of the far right -- the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Patriots/militiamen, "Freemen"/"constitutionalists", and anti-abortion, anti-tax, and anti-gay radicals -- do pay attention to how they vote: where their money and support goes, and why. It's important to track this because it's about watching who they empower, and who's empowering them, and to what extent this is occurring.

In the 1980s and early '90s, they tended to divide their votes among a menu of various fringe candidates (David Duke, Bo Gritz), mostly under the banner of the Populist Party, and "mainstream" third-party candidates like Ross Perot and Patrick Buchanan. A lot of them, however, abandoned third parties altogether after the 2000 election, when Buchanan betrayed them by choosing a black woman as his running mate -- and many of them simply began voting Republican...

...the far right has always been fond of tapping into threads of national discontent -- it's how they've survived all these years, really -- which is why they have made a living the past generation whipping up anti-government sentiment, exploiting the farm crisis, gun control, abortion, education, and a whole menu of other issues along the way. More recently, immigration has been their chief entree to the mainstream, and now they have jumped on the anti-Iraq war bandwagon.

Ron Paul's presidential candidacy has been the focal point for this, and it has been striking, not to mention disturbing, to observe the unanimity with which the far right has been coalescing behind Paul's candidacy. And the support (unlike that for either Buchanan or Perot) has not been merely avid, it's perfervid.

Virtually every far-right entity -- neo-Nazis, white supremacists, militias, constitutionalists, Minutemen, nativists, you name it -- that I've been monitoring for the past decade or more is lining up behind Paul. I've checked with other human-rights observers, and they're seeing the same thing. Ron Paul, rather quietly and under the radar, has managed to unite nearly the entire radical right behind him.

And it's not likely, even, that this is so much by design as by nature. It's a natural outgrowth of who Ron Paul is. Yet the scope of this coalescence of the far right is unprecedented. Certainly no other presidential candidate in my memory -- except perhaps the early George Wallace -- has energized and drawn the ardent support from the far right the way Ron Paui has...

So when I encounter progressives that tell me all walleyed that Ron Paul has the potential to really change things, I agree.

Work camps for all you immigrants and terra'ists, because the security industrial complex can be just nationalistic as hell, oligarchs running everything, and total destruction of the ability to project non-corporate American power anywhere in the world.

Oh yeah, and Blackwater/ DynCorp running the Pentagon and breaking the back of that commie New World Order United Nations.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Like Kool-Aid in the Desert of the Real

Greenwald seems to be taking offense at Left Blogistan, and particlarly Orcinus, for impugning the reputation of that most maverick Ron Paul. Seems like Salon Glenn thinks Paul's record shows what a great guy he is, a liberal progressive dream of a candidate.

I'll believe that Glenn, when and if there's ever a Fitzmas present for Dick Cheney.

Orcinus has pointed to 161 pieces of Paul-sponsored legistlation, and linked to each, that belie Ron Paul and his Amazing Technicolor Campaign.

Ron Paul, closet Dominionist, serves some pretty bad-ass Kool-Aid that Glenn Greenwald should know better than to drink.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Business As Usual

So when does the D.o'D. get involved in narcotics?

A Defense Department contract involving antidrug training missions may test the durability of the political controversy over Blackwater Worldwide's security work in Iraq.

The Moyock, N.C., company, which was involved in a September shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead, is one of five military contractors competing for as much as $15 billion over five years to help fight a narcotics trade that the government says finances terrorist groups.

Also competing for contracts from the Pentagon's Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office are military-industry giants Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as well as Arinc Inc., a smaller aerospace and technology contractor.

The contracts are expected to be awarded as the need arises, so the Pentagon's level of concern about employing Blackwater will likely be measured over time and by whether the company wins leading roles or is shut out.

Companies competing for the work might be called on to develop detection or surveillance technology; train U.S. and foreign forces; or provide logistics, communications and information-technology systems, among other areas...

Instead of giving all of the business to a single firm, the Pentagon plans to award the antidrug work on a task-by-task basis, requiring Blackwater and its rivals to compete constantly.

In August, the Defense Department gave each of the five companies a $25,000 contract to look at intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in Saharan Africa. Four more contracts have since been awarded, but the government has classified the details.

For bigger companies such as Lockheed and Northrop, the value of the antidrug contracts are miniscule when compared with building fighter jets and naval ships. Yet, work such as this is increasingly important as they seek to expand into new markets that could grow over time.

For Blackwater, which started in 1997 as a small company that trained law-enforcement officers and others at its compound in North Carolina, such contracts are crucial to growth. Since 2001, Blackwater's roster of military veterans and former law enforcement officers has swelled to more than 40,000, and it has built a fleet of airplanes and helicopters larger than those of some of the countries where it does business. Blackwater hopes to sell its own surveillance airship and a custom-built armored vehicle for dangerous missions.

Under the Defense Department contract, Blackwater might end up as a subcontractor to a rival. Lockheed lists Blackwater as one of 37 companies it might use to supply nonsecurity services such as training personnel. Blackwater received $44 million in contracts from Lockheed between 2005 and 2007 for work as a subcontractor on antidrug training and border-related work in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.

Richard Douglas, deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics, counterproliferation and global threats, said Blackwater's training of Afghan antidrug forces has made them more effective. "We've been very happy with the results of our association with them in Afghanistan," he said.

Well, nothing succeeds like success.

Speaking of success, Scott Horton at Harper's got an update on Cheneyburton's drive to git his Iran On, and the political realities that aren't rallying the NeoCons behind him beyond the usual suspects. Let's hope Scott's right.

Unintentional Tell

Kindasleezy Rice on Pakistan:

...“we’ve been in close contact, as you might imagine, through our embassy, through our ambassador there, with all parties in Pakistan,” she was signaling that the United States was hedging its bets in Pakistan by reaching out to civilian institutions and nongovernmental organizations, administration officials said. “This is not a personal matter about President Musharraf,” Ms. Rice said. “This is about the Pakistani people. And the United States has been dedicated to helping the Pakistani people come to a more democratic path.”

Right, democracy. She keeps using that word. Somehow I do not think that word means what she says it means.

This is classic behavior from the same folks that have given us the Iraq debacle. Support a strongman, and his opposition. Likely we advised Musharraf to go all martial law, and at the same time told Bhutto to go back and chat with her supporters.

Kind of like Poppy's people telling Saddam it was okay for him to gas his Kurds, then to take what he wanted from Kuwait, and then breaking him for it.

It's a move right out of the Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton NeoCon playbook.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"A vote for Paul is basically a vote for dissolution of the Republic."

What Dr. Sardonicus says.

What, you think that's an extremist sort of statement? Orcinus has compiled a list of the legistlation Ron Paul has introduced and supported. Can you say "Stormfront Candidate"?

I thought you could, and would.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Water for the Desert

Larisa Alexandrovna notes that Israel, like the United States, has entered the desert of the real.

Welcome to the desert of the real in which a Jewish man can cite Nazis in defense of torture tactics. I was raised on the Holocaust. I went to a highly religious school where many of my teachers and guest lecturers were Holocaust survivors.

My family talked about the Holocaust at every opportunity, remembering those who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, including members of my family. I lived under the Soviet regime, which also tortured and murdered. I have never met or spoken with any Jew who has ever defended torture, no matter who the "scapegoat" is.

Apparently, there are some Jews who are more than willing to become the very monsters they abhor. This mentality I do not understand and never will...

Even if in some instances Nazi tactics worked, why would anyone endorse them for any reason, especially a Jewish man? Dershowitz, and others like him - Joe Lieberman, et al - do not speak for Jews, nor do they speak for Israel. In fact, the far right regime that has co-opted Israel and the US both is not representative of Judaism or Christianity for that matter. Whatever or whomever it is they represent, it is not the Israeli people or the American people. It is as though a multi-national organized crime syndicate has taken over both countries and is using the cover of religion as a shield against criticism...

Correct. Chaos is the plan.

The people of Israel are held hostage to the same kind of zealots and fanatics that have taken over the American government.

Both governments appeal to the same sort of cowardice to justify the march to fascism.

Note: I am not suggesting Israel has taken over America. The tail does not wag the dog.

I'm Afraid of Americans

Johnnys in america,
low-techs at the Wheel
No-one needs anyone, they don't even just pretend
Johnnys in america

Johnny wants a brain,
johnny wants to suck on a coke
Johnny wants a woman,
Johnny wants to think of a joke
Johnnys in america...

Johnnys in america,
Johnny looks up at
The stars
Johnny combs his hair,
and Johnny
Wants pussy and cars
Johnnys in america...

God is an american
I'm afraid of americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't...
Johnnys in america

Learn to Love and Trust Big Brother

WASHINGTON - A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people's private communications and financial information...

Because government and businesses would never abuse your confidence.

...The original law required a court order for any surveillance conducted on U.S. soil, to protect Americans' privacy. The White House argued that the law was obstructing intelligence gathering.

The most contentious issue in the new legislation is whether to shield telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits for allegedly giving the government access to people's private e-mails and phone calls without a court order between 2001 and 2007.

Some lawmakers, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appear reluctant to grant immunity. Suits might be the only way to determine how far the government has burrowed into people's privacy without court permission.

The committee is expected to decide this week whether its version of the bill will protect telecommunications companies.

The central witness in a California lawsuit against AT&T says the government is vacuuming up billions of e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T switching station in San Francisco.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, helped connect a device in 2003 that he says diverted and copied onto a government supercomputer every call, e-mail, and Internet site access on AT&T lines.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ponzi Scheme Sanction with Extreme Prejudice

hell's handmaiden points to an excellent financial analysis by Market Ticker:

...The Bulls on The Street subscribe to this thing called "magical thinking", in that they believe that people can commit fraud and get away with it by shoving off the cost on someone else, attaching a very short "warranty period" which will expire before the bomb goes off.

The Law says that it doesn't work that way.

Fraud voids all contracts and what's worse, the Statute of Limitations doesn't start to run until the fraud is "outed"!

It took six months for the media to figure this out?

Or is the truth that the media simply doesn't want to talk about reality? "The Street" doesn't want to talk about it either, never mind that they have plenty of $1,000 per hour lawyers who do understand it.

Why not?

Because once this is clearly out in the public eye and in their mind, this entire house of cards comes crashing down as all these bad loans are put back as far up the line as there remains money!

This will sink originating banks and mortgage companies. It will sink securitizers (which are the big Wall Street "boyz") and raises all sorts of interesting SarBox issues.

It will also wipe out every broker and real estate agent who participated in these schemes.

The second order effect is even worse - it will precipitate a full-on consumer confidence collapse; a collapse that no longer can be avoided...

And just before Christmas, at that. Somewhere, the Grinch smiles.

...the fraud has become embedded in all elements of the housing bubble:

* "Grade inflation" in the claimed credit quality of securitized mortgages.
* Appraisal fraud - if the recent suit proves up, this was systematic, and if you ask Real Estate agents (and can find an honest one) they will tell you that appraisers were frequently given the "sale price" - a clear violation of their intended neutrality and, in some states, a violation of the law. The number of appraisers who found themselves "blacklisted" for failing to hit desired target prices is the stuff of legends as well.
* Mortgage fraud - an example related to me on the phone over the weekend was of a hairdresser at CostCutters who claimed $8,000 a month in income. How does this get through underwriting - say much less past the broker who is given that information? It doesn't, unless its being done completely by computer and no human looks at it - or they just don't care.

In short, the entire "Real Estate boom" that "powered our economy" over the last five years is one giant ball of fraud.

A ball of fraud that turns out to have a nuclear core, and it is now starting to "rapidly disassemble."

If you're a "Bull" in the market today you have to be willfully ignoring this.

Is that smart?

How well does magical thinking work in general?

...The "recovery" from the 2003 lows has not been driven by "solid earnings", "a solid economy" and "a solid consumer."

It has been driven by organized fraud in the housing market, from appraisals to "subprime" mortgages to pumping "interest only" and "negative amortization" loans (which brokers knew where unaffordable once they reset or recast) to outright false claims of phantom income by borrowers.

All of this produced phantom economic activity which fueled the export business - China's making things we consume but our consumption is unsustainable!

By best estimates, 6.5 trillion dollars worth has been withdrawn from their "household ATM" by US consumers in the last four years and spent.

To put perspective on this the US GDP last year was about $13 trillion dollars.

Let's presume that 20% house price appreciation over the last four years is "about right" given 3-4% real wage growth. So the rest - 80% - is the product, direct and indirect, of fraud.

That makes roughly $5 trillion over four years of phantom money that wasn't real wealth created by real economic activity.

That's 9.6%, roughly, of our GDP on an annualized basis!

But for this fraud we would have been in a deep and long recession for the last FOUR YEARS.

Now this has to be unwound. To the tune of five trillion dollars.

People talk about how the "subprime problem" is "contained" and then they put a number on it - $100 billion, $50 billion, even $200 billion.

That too is a Chimera.

The real issue is the $5 trillion in so-called "wealth" that was spent but unearned, and as a consequence was been replaced by DEBT on consumer balance sheets.

That debt now requires service and will for years if not decades to come, unless it is written-down en-masse!

Obviously, to try to unwind this "all at once" would crash our economy instantly.

50% losses in the stock market? Try 75% and an almost-certain deflationary depression.

Of course that's unrealistic.

We're not going to take the medicine in "one gulp" any more than we got the benefit from the fraud in "one gulp".

But it is beyond question that we will take the pain and cost of unwinding this mess.

It cannot be avoided.

To the extent that "The Media" refuses to address this they are complicit. To the extent that "analysts" keep spouting "buy buy buy" they are complicit in robbing your wealth. To the extent that investment banks and others on "The Street" continue to hold so-called "Level 3" assets which they claim whatever mark they can get a computer to spit out, they too are complicit.

The entire premise of this "expansion" over the last four years has been fraudulent.

There was no actual expansion. No real wealth created. No real economic activity advance.

Instead, the truth is that our "price/earnings" ratios in the market have been propped up by consumer spending that was wholly built upon a fraudulent foundation. It has been a Chimera; the idea that you can create something from nothing.

I'm tired of it. You should be tired of it. You should not tolerate this from the media, from the regulators and from the politicians.

Politicians will pander to their donors and try to pander to you, yet those donors are why we are here.

But for the "cooking" of financial instruments there was no market for these securities as there was no profit to be made!

But look, over there! Isn't that Brittney? Or Jennifer Anniston?

Market Tickler links to a site for a petition to Congress to expose this and do something, anything, about the fraud.

The problem I have is that I'm not real sure anything can be done about it, nor do I understand the situation well enough to suggest intelligent solutions. Other than to buy gold and guns, and sit on top of the gold with your guns.

Until the Feds send the Blackwater goons to confiscate it, your house, and your internal organs too.

Financial Incentive

How to profit from a 'police state'

If 25% of workers really are involved in supporting the police state, how can the rest of us change things without being sent to the slammer by the people who have the guns and want to use them?

Not Simple Denial, Simple Manipulation

Bob Herbert, on the curious reluctance to admit it is a Category 5 hurricane:

...With all due respect to the chairman, he would see the recession that so many others are feeling if he would only open his eyes. While Mr. Bernanke and others are waiting for the official diagnosis (a decline in the gross domestic product for two successive quarters), the disease is spreading and has been spreading for some time.

The evidence is all around us. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told Mr. Bernanke that many members of Congress are holding forums in their districts “to help people who are coming to our doors, literally with tears in their eyes, and trying to figure out how they’re going to manage a foreclosure that’s right around the corner.”

The housing meltdown is getting the attention, but there’s so much more. Bankruptcies and homelessness are on the rise. The job market has been weak for years. The auto industry is in trouble. The cost of food, gasoline and home heating oil are soaring at a time when millions of Americans are managing to make it from one month to another solely by the grace of their credit cards.

The country has been in denial for years about the economic reality facing American families. That grim reality has been masked by the flimflammery of official statistics (job growth good, inflation low) and the muscular magic of the American way of debt: mortgages on top of mortgages, pyramiding student loans and an opiatelike addiction to credit cards at rates that used to get people locked up for loan-sharking.

The big story out of Mr. Bernanke’s appearance before the Joint Economic Committee was his prediction that the economy was likely to worsen. Only the people still trapped in denial could have believed otherwise.

This is what Representative Maurice Hinchey of upstate New York told the chairman:

“This economy is not doing well. And the example of the mortgage closures on 2 million people — and maybe a lot more than that as time goes on — is really not the cause of the economic problem we’re facing, but it’s just a factor of it. It’s a factor of the weakness of this economy.”

In an interview after the hearing, Representative Hinchey discussed the disconnect between official government reports and the reality facing working families. He noted that the unemployment rate does not include workers who have become so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for a job.

And the most popular measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, does not include the cost of energy or food, “the two most significant aspects of the increased cost of living for the American people.”

The elite honchos in Washington and their courtiers in the news media are all but completely out of touch with the daily struggle of working families. Thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty and close to 60 million others are just a notch above the official poverty line.

An illness, an auto accident, the loss of a job — almost anything can knock them off their rickety economic perch.

We hear over and over that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the gross domestic product, but we seldom hear about the frightening number of Americans who are trying desperately to maintain a working-class or middle-class style of life while descending into a sinkhole of debt.

“We have an economy that is based on increased debt,” said Mr. Hinchey. “The national debt is now slightly above $9 trillion, and ordinary working people are finding that they have to borrow more and more to maintain their standard of living."

“The average now is that people are spending close to 10 percent more than they earn every month. Obviously, that can’t be sustained.”

The chickens of our denial are coming home to roost with a vengeance. Meanwhile, the elites are scouring the landscape for signs of a recession.

The problem lies in the elite lies. They have a distinct financial incentive to keep things the way they are. Their discomfiture is more with the rubes who are beginning to realize they've been scammed by a system that exists principally for plunder.