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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Old Gods of Eternity

Don't you hate it when the memes of ancient gods try to intrude into our space-time?

Hiroshima, 1945, August 6, sixteen minutes past 8 AM.

Who really gave that order?

Answer: Control. The Ugly American, the instrument of Control.

Question: If Control’s control is absolute, why does Control need to control?

Answer: Control… needs time.

Question: Is Control controlled by its need to control?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Why does Control need humans, as you call them?

Answer: Wait… wait! Time, a landing field. Death needs time like a junkie needs junk.

Question: And what does Death need time for?

Answer: The answer is sooo simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in...

We have a new type of rule now.

Not one man rule, or rule of aristocracy, or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision.

They are representatives of abstract forces who’ve reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers.

The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.

The thing about the ancient god-meme of Dominion is that it's a dragon eating itself. Avedon yesterday, on Corruption:

...Fundamental to the freedoms of our society is the idea that we try to prevent corruption throughout the system. Although we have never perfected that, we have managed to maintain at least the ideal that we prosecute officials who are involved in bribery, extortion, or other abuses of the system for personal or partisan gain.

The parts of the world we have always regarded as barbarous have been those where bribes and cronyism were more the standard than the exception. It is taken for granted there that prosecutions are matters of political favor, that people are tortured, that bribery and extortion are how the government runs.

And those things are illegal in the United States, and it used to be illegal for any American official or company to be involved in bribery in dealings abroad. Is it still? Who can tell? For the last six years, we've seen it happen even on the Senate floor.

But at rock bottom, a system of law that applies equally to all, and a judicial system that, at least when it works, works to root out corruption in high places, is the assumption that makes our system possible. Without it, we can't even make a start at saying America is "a free country".

We never helped create a judicial system in Iraq.

As they have done in our own country, the administration has helped "elect" leaders in Iraq that are chosen not for their ability to administrate a troubled country, but to satisfy their political (and business) needs. The result for Iraq has been, obviously, a catastrophe. And Katrina was the flash that exposed this same philosophy for the American public - another catastrophe.

But an even larger disaster is waiting for us down the road if we do not stop them in their tracks. We cannot come to any conclusion in Iraq, we cannot restore our economy, we cannot begin to rebuild all that we've lost over the last six years, let alone what we lost from the beginning of the Reagan administration, if we don't first make a definitive statement that this is not what America is about and we will not put up with it - and that the price will be high for anyone who has been involved with it, or who tries it on us again...

Beyond any short term financial perks for the perpetrators of the Bush crime syndicate, this is the real goal of the group of aristocrat wanna-bees who would rule us: far more than hating liberalism per se, they want absolute control.

And so we come to the question: how to put an old demonic meme, the Worm Ouroboros of human nature, with genuine belief that "...better a hundred such [commoners] should die than one great man's hand be hampered," to rest?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bu$hie Wacking

From the Editorial page of The New York Pravda:

In his Senate testimony yesterday, Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, tried to be a “loyal Bushie,” a term Mr. Sampson used in his infamous e-mail message to describe what he was looking for in United States attorneys. But if Mr. Sampson was trying to fall on his sword, he had horrible aim. In testimony that got so embarrassing for the White House that the Republicans tried to cut it off, Mr. Sampson simply ended up making it clearer than ever that the eight prosecutors were fired for political reasons.

He provided more evidence, also, that the attorney general and other top Justice Department officials were dishonest in their initial statements about the firings.

Mr. Sampson flatly contradicted the attorney general’s claim that he did not participate in the selection of the prosecutors to be fired and never had a conversation about “where things stood.” Mr. Sampson testified that Mr. Gonzales was “aware of this process from the beginning,” and that the two men regularly discussed where things stood. Mr. Sampson also confirmed that Mr. Gonzales was at the Nov. 27 meeting where the selected prosecutors’ fates were sealed.

The hearing brought out evidence that Mr. Sampson also may have made false statements. A Feb. 23 letter to Congress based on information from Mr. Sampson stated that Karl Rove was not involved in replacing the United States attorney in Arkansas with Timothy Griffin, Mr. Rove’s former aide. Mr. Sampson could not convincingly explain why he wrote that, when he had said in an e-mail message two months earlier that getting Mr. Griffin appointed was “important” to Mr. Rove. He finally acknowledged that he had discussed the appointment with Mr. Rove’s two top aides.

The senators questioning Mr. Sampson pointed to a troubling pattern: many of the fired prosecutors were investigating high-ranking Republicans. He was asked if he was aware that the fired United States attorney in Nevada was investigating a Republican governor, that the fired prosecutor in Arkansas was investigating the Republican governor of Missouri, or that the prosecutor in Arizona was investigating two Republican members of Congress.

Mr. Sampson’s claim that he had only casual knowledge of these highly sensitive investigations was implausible, unless we are to believe that Mr. Gonzales runs a department in which the chief of staff is merely a political hack who has no hand in its substantive work. He added to the suspicions that partisan politics were involved when he made the alarming admission that in the middle of the Scooter Libby investigation, he suggested firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago who was the special prosecutor in the case.

The administration insists that purge was not about partisan politics. But Mr. Sampson’s alternative explanation was not very credible — that the decision about which of these distinguished prosecutors should be fired was left in the hands of someone as young and inept as Mr. Sampson. If this were an aboveboard, professional process, it strains credulity that virtually no documents were produced when decisions were made, and that none of his recommendations to Mr. Gonzales were in writing.

It is no wonder that the White House is trying to stop Congress from questioning Mr. Rove, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials in public, under oath and with a transcript. The more the administration tries to spin the prosecutor purge, the worse it looks.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

You can lead a NeoCon to knowledge, but you can't make him think.


HOUSTON - A Texas-sized area of Antarctica is thinning and could cause the world's oceans to rise significantly in the long-term, polar ice experts said in wrapping up a three-day conference.

"Surprisingly rapid changes" are occurring in Antarctica's Amundsen Sea Embayment, an ice drainage system that faces the southern Pacific Ocean, the experts said in a statement, adding that more study was needed to determine how fast it was melting and how much it could cause sea levels to rise.

The warning came Wednesday at the end of a conference of U.S. and European polar ice experts at the University of Texas in Austin...
[thanks for the tip, Woody]


HOBART, Australia - The impact of global warming on the vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica is starting to pose a threat to ocean currents that distribute heat around the world, Australian scientists say, citing new deep-water data.

Melting ice-sheets and glaciers in Antarctica are releasing fresh water, interfering with the formation of dense "bottom water," which sinks 2-3 miles to the ocean floor and helps drive the world's ocean circulation system.

A slowdown in the system known as "overturning circulation" would affect the way the ocean, which absorbs 85 percent of atmospheric heat, carries heat around the globe...

"If the water gets fresh enough ... then it won't matter how much ice we form, we won't be able to make this water cold and salty enough to sink," said Steve Rintoul, a senior scientist at CSIRO, Australia's national science agency...

Water dense enough to sink to the ocean floor is formed in polar regions by surface water freezing, which concentrates salt in very cold water beneath the ice. The dense water then sinks.

Only a few places around Antarctica and in the northern Atlantic create water dense enough to sink to the ocean floor, making Antarctic "bottom water" crucial to global ocean currents.

But the freshening of Antarctic deep water was a sign that the "overturning circulation" system in the world's oceans might be slowing down, Rintoul said, and similar trends are occurring in the North Atlantic...

Rintoul, who has led teams tracking water density around the Antarctic through decades of readings, said his findings add to concerns about a "strangling" of the Southern Ocean by greenhouse gases and global warming.

Australian scientists warned last month that waters surrounding Antarctica were also becoming more acidic as they absorbed more carbon dioxide produced by nations burning fossil fuels.

Acidification of the ocean is affecting the ability of plankton — microscopic marine plants, animals and bacteria — to absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the ocean's ability to sink greenhouse gases to the bottom of the sea.

Rintoul said that global warming was also changing wind patterns in the Antarctic region, drawing them south away from the Australian mainland and causing declining rainfall in western and possibly eastern coastal areas.

This was contributing to drought in Australia, one of the world's top agricultural producers, he said.

And from behind Teh New York Pravda's Select firewall:

A House committee released documents Monday that showed hundreds of instances in which a White House official who was previously an oil industry lobbyist edited government climate reports to play up uncertainty of a human role in global warming or play down evidence of such a role.

In a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the official, Philip A. Cooney, who left government in 2005, defended the changes he had made in government reports over several years. Mr. Cooney said the editing was part of the normal White House review process and reflected findings in a climate report written for President Bush by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001.

They were the first public statements on the issue by Mr. Cooney, the former chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before joining the White House, he was the ''climate team leader'' for the American Petroleum Institute, the main industry lobby.

He was hired by Exxon Mobil after resigning in 2005 following reports on the editing in The New York Times. The White House said his resignation was not related to the disclosures...

And so it goes. How much ice melted in Antartica this winter? The data are there, even if they're not being released.

...Just a few years ago, the world's climate scientists predicted that Greenland wouldn't have much impact at all on sea level in the coming decades. But recent measurements show that Greenland's ice cap is melting much faster than expected.

These new data come from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace). Launched in March 2002, the twin Grace satellites circle the globe using gravity to map changes in Earth's mass 500 kilometers (310 miles) below. They are providing a unique way to monitor and understand Earth's great ice sheets and glaciers.

Grace measurements have revealed that in just four years, from 2002 to 2006, Greenland lost between 150 and 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year. One cubic kilometer is equal to about 264 billion gallons of water. That's enough melting ice to account for an increase in global sea level of as much as 0.5 millimeters (0.019 inches) per year, according to Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr of the University of Colorado, Boulder. They published their results in the scientific journal Nature last fall. Since global sea level has risen an average of three millimeters (0.1 inch) per year since 1993, Greenland's rapidly increasing contribution can't be overlooked.

"Before Grace, the change of Greenland's ice sheet was inferred by a combination of more regional radar and altimeter studies pieced together over many years, but Grace can measure changes in the weight of the ice directly and cover the entire ice sheet of Greenland every month," says Michael Watkins, Grace project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. However, as anyone who has ever been concerned about his or her weight knows, a number on a scale is just the beginning. In the five years that Grace has been flying, scientists have found ways to make the most of this new set of observations.

"Grace has a big footprint," says Watkins. "We can locate regions of greatest loss, but we can't see individual glaciers." However, Grace's spatial resolution is continually improving. In the most recent studies, he says, Grace has observed large ice losses in the southeast of Greenland, while other areas, such as the west coast, have shown losses as well...

As Grace celebrates its fifth birthday and begins its extended mission, "we're getting the picture into better focus," says Watkins, "and we're going to have a new wave of discoveries. Improving the post-glacial rebound model is going to help, especially in Antarctica, where post-glacial rebound has a big effect on the gravity signal. We're also going to be able to pinpoint areas of loss and better understand how the losses change from one particular year to the next. This will tell us more about the types and mechanisms of ice mass loss so we can make better predictions in the future."

While Grace provides a new and independent way to study Earth's ice sheets, it will take a combination of different tools, including laser altimeters, radar, and field studies, to sort out more clearly what's happening. "All technologies have different strengths and weaknesses," says Watkins. "Grace is the new piece. It shows us the big picture, while other measurements look at a smaller scale. We need to use them all together."

"We have to pay attention," Velicogna adds. "These ice sheets are changing much faster than we were expecting. Observations are the most powerful tool we have to know what is going on, especially when the changes - and what's causing them - are not obvious."

Well, they would be obvious, if the NOAA scientists could speak without a Commissar listening for Party purity and trying to axe the jobs of those stepping outside the Party line.

Ignorance as the Bane of the Republic

The old South had its propagation of slavery as its distinguishing disfigurement.

I think the War was more about the Northern aristocracy wanting what the Southern aristocracy had than anything else. And vice versa. But you can not talk people into dying for anything less than a high and noble cause. Google "9/11" and "Iraq" and "Bush" if you contest this point. So slavery it became.

After the Civil War the Union robber barons moved in and took control. And hearts and minds. And with time even the Cause of the Confederacy. A whole new version of slavery developed without the nasty label but for the Almighty Dollar, good credit, and the American Dream.

Don't blame Southerners alone for the Empire. Admittedly, there is a historically high concentration of ignorant and scared wage slaves there, but believe it, they're everywhere. Outside of Detroit and Ann Arbor, the Confederate flag is as common in Michigan as Alabama. It seems every American to some extent has been brainwashed to support the aristocrats in their quest for Dominion.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cyber Mercenaries Fightin' Terra by Controlling Your Information

Your tax dollars (damned sure not Bu$hie's Ba$e) Privately Contracting Out the War on Terra:

Opportunity Information:
Title: Information Warfare: Offensive and Defensive Counterinformation
Solicitation #: BAA-06-12-IFKA
Post Date: 2/8/2006
Response Date:
Document Type: Presolicitation Notice
NAICS Code: 541710 -- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences

ANNOUNCEMENT TYPE: Initial announcement.
CFDA Number: 12.800

DATES: It is recommended white papers be received by the following dates to maximize the possibility of award: FY 06 by 10 Mar 06; FY 07 by 1 May 06; FY 08 by 1 May 07 and, FY 09 by 1 May 08. White papers will be accepted until 2:00 p.m. Eastern time on 31 December 2009, but it is less likely that funding will be available in each respective fiscal year after the dates cited. FORMAL PROPOSALS ARE NOT BEING REQUESTED AT THIS TIME. See Section IV of this announcement for further details.


AFRL/IF is soliciting white papers to identify and develop technologies to enable a distributed information infrastructure that provides all the mechanisms and services required to allow the warfighters to craft their C4I information environments, including ability to establish distributed virtual staffs, to share a common consistent perception of the battlespace, and construct distributed task teams among sensors, shooters, movers, and command posts. These technologies will be applied across the full spectrum of cyber operations, in support of Air Force mission requirements. Specific technologies include, but are not limited to: network protocols, information adaptation, network management, routing technologies, adaptive interfaces, distributed information environments, multimedia services, adaptive security services, global resource management, architectures, computer and network risk assessment/management, vulnerability assessment, assurance techniques, detection of intrusions and misuse, network security, wireless information assurance, assessment of information damage, cyber forensics, recovery of information systems and computer networks to operational levels, and a full spectrum of active response and computer network attack techniques.

Information superiority is an integral part of air and space superiority, an Air Force doctrine. This gives the commander freedom from attack, the freedom to maneuver and the freedom to attack. Information superiority is that degree of information advantage of one force over another that permits the conduct of operations at a given time and place without prohibitive opposition. Information operations are not focused exclusively on information superiority and information operations alone is not sufficient to achieve information superiority. AFRL/IF has developed a responsive R&D technology program to help the US achieve information superiority. The technology research in this BAA will be focused in the following areas of information operations: influence operations, network warfare operations and electronic warfare operations.

Influence Operations: Focused on affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations. Influence operations employ capabilities to affect behaviors, protect operations, communicate commander's intent and project accurate information to achieve desired effects across the cognitive domain. These effects should result in differing objectives. The military capabilities of influence operations are psychological operations, military deception, operations security, counterintelligence operations, counterpropoganda operations and public affairs operations.

Network Warfare Operations: The integrated planning, employment, and assessment of military capabilities to achieve desired effects across the interconnected analog and digital network portion of the battle space. Network warfare operations are conducted in the information domain through the combination of hardware, software, data and human interaction. The operational activities of network warfare operations are network attack, network defense and network warfare support...

[thanks Noah, who's the Man when it comes to this stuff]

I particularly like the idea of "Influence Operations: Focused on affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Motivations and Incentives

Noah Shachtman points to this:

Defying a veto threat, the Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly signaled support Tuesday for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by next March.

Noah asks:

Is John McCain right, that even "a second-year cadet at West Point will tell you if you announce to the enemy that you’re leaving, it’s a recipe for defeat?"

McCain knows better. You can not win a war without objectives. Over 600,000 Iraqi civilians are dead from this war. We can win every battle and still not win the good will of the Iraqi people.

The real motivation behind this war is the oil. Not as much as to sell it on the market, but to keep it in the ground, to be sold at a higher price on a later day. This is not a war worthy of the United States military.

This is a war that is draining the blood and the will from the best of us.

It seems that is an objective of this war, although it is not an objective of our forces.

There are people who don't like what America stands for.

People do attack us. But instead of declaring war- the opposition of one nation against the other- there are better ways to deal with such people.

Because these people attacking us are a not a nation. Armies and war are not the way to fight them. Their tactics beat our tactics even though we win every battle.

Why? Because the terrorists don't play the same game the military does. A blind crusading endless war plays exactly into the hands of the enemies of America. When our nation throws away its principles for an Empire, the terrorists win and our nation loses.

You can have a Democracy, or you can have an Empire, but you can not have both for long.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Unauthorized Biography

Dick Cheney by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, 2004.

Conspiracy Theory

Think Progress:

By a 329-78 vote, the House today followed the Senate in passing legislation that repeals a Patriot Act provision “that grants the Attorney General the authority to make indefinite interim appointments of U.S. Attorneys, who can then serve indefinitely without Senate confirmation.” The Gavel has details and video from the floor debate.

Gonzo's minions are pleading the 5th.

And this excellent comment by Abby strikes me:

There are conspiracy theories and then there are conspiracy theories

How about this one:

The Patriot Act, a massive piece of complicated legislation was signed into law, in it’s final form, within 45 days of 9/11. That feat is impossible to achieve even in the best of circumstances, let alone at a time when every boss you need to consult is unavailable because the country just suffered the biggest attack on it’s home soil.

So when was it really written and why?

And by whom? As Spudge_Boy later says, the authors of the PNAC documents?

I agree with Jeff Wells about this. Why spend all of our time digging up six year old forensic evidence about 9/11, when the arrogance of the perpetrators is in print for all to see? These aren't superspy criminals we're after, they're corporate aristocrats, lazy, indolent, and clumsy. They like to gloat about their crimes, and all the evidence needs is a little sunlight to grow into an airtight case against them.

From the Department of Justice, With Love

The Ministry of Truth has nothing on these boys and girls. Laura Rozen:

John Doe in the Post: My National Security Letter Gag Order:

"Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled."

Read the whole thing. Kafkaesque and un-American. As John Doe writes:

"I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing.

"There've been 140,000 such gag orders in this country with almost no terrorism prosecutions to show for the abuses, and no probable cause established. That is just over one for every 30,000 Americans, man woman and child. Is the gag order so the FBI can avoid accountability? So the public is not the wiser for the abuses taking place? Where are the folks with honor inside the FBI raising concerns about the abuses? Is Congress going to mandate DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine to establish whether such abuses were committed intentionally or not in the next round?"

Update: It's against the law for the FBI to misuse NSLs and exigent circumstance letters as the DOJ IG has established it has, but a law to date violated by the law enforcers and therefore with no enforcement. What would be the result for "John Doe" to violate his seemingly unlawful gag order and appear say on 60 Minutes and blow this out of the water? For the ACLU to line up all of the recipients of NSLs it has been asked to represent? What would that be? A dozen? Twenty? A hundred? Five hundred? Or perhaps, that a TV news investigation program show them anonymously, in accordance with their gag orders, as various tools (voice disguise, etc.) would allow? Officials would be resigning and fired faster than you can say "Walter Reed," one can imagine. And let's just imagine that at some point in the next two years, not just the recipients of the unlawful NLSs, e.g. the Internet service providers, banks and telephone companies, but the targets of the illegal information requests, are identified? What will be their recourse to hold their government accountable? Most of all, how much of this will be determined to have been about issues unrelated to terrorism at all? How much of this was an excuse to spy on lots of people for whom it couldn't get warrants? 140,000 NSLs is a lot; is every one in 30,000 Americans really a legitimate subject in a terrorism investigation? That's kind of hard to believe.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Der Plan

Shadow Government and Proxy Servers

Tom over at Correntewire picked up on a post by Citizen 92 revealing the White House use of RNC email proxies to avoid official detection.

Lambert and Xan seem to be running with the ball in the comments. The practice is to say the least widespread. And unsurprising.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Can you call it a Democracy Without Votes?

Or a Republic without Representation?

Bill Moyers, to Occidental College in Los Angeles:

...Our political system is melting down, right here where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New American Foundation - summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the January 28th San Francisco Chronicle - found that for the first time in modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, "There is a widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote." Here we are getting to the heart of the crisis today - the great divide that has opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12 million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, "Considering that California often has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation - in some elections only a little more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate - a small group of frequent voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors, form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot measures pass." The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes: "Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn't look much life California overall."

We should not be surprised by the consequences: "Two Californias have emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the political leaders who divide up the pie."

You've got a big problem here. But don't feel alone. Across the country our 18th political system is failing to deal with basic realities. Despite Thomas Jefferson's counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure - practically deified for 225 years - has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: "We've gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power."

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: "It's hard to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is." Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?" He goes on: "But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I'm at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it."

Our political system is promiscuous as well as primitive. The first modern fundraiser in American politics - Mark Hanna, who shook down the corporations to make William McKinley President of the United States in 1896 - once said there are two important things in politics. "One is money, and I can't remember the other one." Because our system feeds on campaign contributions, the powerful and the privileged shape it to their will. Only 12% of American households had incomes over $100,000 in 2000, but they made up 95% of the substantial donors to campaigns and have been the big winners in Washington ever since...

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether "We, the People" is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality - one nation, indivisible - or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

We seem to be holding our breath today, trying to decide what kind of country we want to be. But in this state of suspension, powerful interests are making off with the booty. They remind me of the card shark in Texas who said to his competitor in the poker game: "Now play the cards fairly Reuben. I know what I dealt you."

For years now a small fraction of American households have been garnering a larger and larger concentration of wealth and income, while large corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented power over who wins and who loses. Inequality in America is greater than it's been in 50 years. In 1960 the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was 30 fold. Today it's more than 75 fold.

Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefiting proportionally. But that is not the case. Throughout our industrial history incomes grew at 30% to 50% or more every quarter, and in the quarter century after WWII, gains reached more than 100% for all income categories. Since the late 1970s, only the top 1% of households increased their income by 100%.

Once upon a time, according to Isabel Sawhill and Sara McLanahan in The Future of Children, the American ideal of classless society was 'one in which all children have roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they were born. That's changing fast. The Economist Jeffrey Madrick writes that just a couple of decades ago, only 20% of one's future income was determined by the income of one's father. New research suggests that today 60% of a son's income is determined by the level of his father's income. In other words, children no longer have a roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they are born. Their chances of success are greatly improved if they are born on third base and their father has been tipping the umpire.

As all of you know, a college education today is practically a necessity if you are to hold your own, much less climb the next rung. More than 40% of all new jobs now require a college degree. There are real world consequences to this, and Madrick drives them home. Since the 1970s, median wages of men with college degrees have risen about 14%. But median wages for high school graduates have fallen about 15%. Not surprisingly, nearly 24% of American workers with only a high school diploma have no health insurance, compared with less than 10% of those with college degrees.

Such statistics can bring glaze to the eyes, but Oscar Wilde once said that it is the mark of truly educated people to be deeply moved by statistics. All of you are educated, and I know you can envision the stress these economic realities are putting on working people and on family life. As incomes have stagnated, higher education, health care, public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen faster in price than typical family incomes, so that life, says Jeffrey Madrick, "has grown neither calm nor secure for most Americans, by any means..."

..."Things have reached such a state of affairs," the journalist George Orwell once wrote, "that the first duty of every intelligent person is to pay attention to the obvious." The editors of The Economist have done just that. The pro-business magazine considered by many to be the most influential defender of capitalism on the newsstand, produced a sobering analysis of what is happening to the old notion that any American child can get to the top. A growing body of evidence - some of it I have already cited - led the editors to conclude that with "income inequality growing to levels not seen since the Gilded Age and social mobility falling behind, the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society." The editors point to an "education system increasingly stratified by social class" in which poor children "attend schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries" and great universities that are "increasingly reinforcing rather than reducing these educational inequalities." They conclude that America's great companies have made it harder than ever "for people to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchies by dint of hard work and self-improvement."

It is eerie to read assessments like that and then read the anthropologist Jared Diamond's book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail He describes an America society in which elites cocoon themselves "in gated communities, guarded by private security guards, and filled with people who drink bottled water, depend on private pensions, and send their children to private schools." Gradually, they lose the motivation "to support the police force, the municipal water supply, Social Security, and public schools." Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure, warns Jared Diamond, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their own actions.

So it is that in a study of its own, The American Political Science Association found that "increasing inequalities threaten the American ideal of equal citizenship and that progress toward real democracy may have stalled in this country and even reversed..."

Beginning a quarter of a century ago a movement of corporate, political, and religious fundamentalists gained ascendancy over politics and made inequality their goal. They launched a crusade to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have held private power. And they had the money to back up their ambition.

Let me read you something:

When powerful interests shower Washington with millions in campaign contributions, they often get what they want. But it is ordinary citizens and firms that pay the price and most of them never see it coming. This is what happens if you don't contribute to their campaigns or spend generously on lobbying. You pick up a disproportionate share of America's tax bill. You pay higher prices for a broad range of products from peanuts to prescriptions. You pay taxes that others in a similar situation have been excused from paying. You're compelled to abide by laws while others are granted immunity from them. You must pay debts that you incur while others do not. You're barred from writing off on your tax returns some of the money spent on necessities while others deduct the cost of their entertainment. You must run your business by one set of rules, while the government creates another set for your competitors. In contrast, the fortunate few who contribute to the right politicians and hire the right lobbyists enjoy all the benefits of their special status. Make a bad business deal; the government bails them out. If they want to hire workers at below market wages, the government provides the means to do so. If they want more time to pay their debts, the government gives them an extension. If they want immunity from certain laws, the government gives it. If they want to ignore rules their competition must comply with, the government gives its approval. If they want to kill legislation that is intended for the public, it gets killed.

I'm not quoting from Karl Marx's Das Kapital or Mao's Little Red Book. I'm quoting Time Magazine. From the heart of America's media establishment comes the judgment that America now has "government for the few at the expense of the many..."

The Message of the Circle of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet
And, blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love

Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life...

[Spring, 2001]

Poppy: Look, Dubya. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Dubya: Wow.

{The camera revolves around them, during
Poppy's speech, from a reverse view to a frontal shot.}

Poppy: A king's time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Dubya, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.
Dubya: And this will all be mine?

Poppy: Everything.
Dubya: Everything the light touches. {Dubya looks all around. He sees a map in Poppy's daily intellgence briefing in his golf bag, picks it out an examines it while Poppy eyes his next shot.} What about that shadowy place?

Poppy: That's beyond our borders. You must never go there, Dubya.
Dubya: But I thought a king can do whatever he wants.

Poppy: Oh, there's more to being king than... getting your way all the time.

{Poppy starts back down the golf course}

Dubya: {Awed} There's more?

Poppy: {Chuckles} Dubya...

{Camera switch. Poppy and Dubya are out walking on the green.}

Poppy: Everything you see exists together, in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance, and respect all the creatures-- from the crawling factory worker to the leaping limousine liberal.
Dubya: But, Dad, don't we eat the DINOcrat?

Poppy: Yes, Dubya, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass. And the Democrats buy the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life. It's okay to be prey, it's good to be the king, but the best lives belong to those who help us in the hunt.

Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

A place for every human, and every human in their place. And it's okay to be prey. This is the message of the circle of life to the compassionate conservative, who has his own.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Better PR Than the Merchant Alliance

From The Spy Who Billed Me:

...DynCorp is still fretting over its bad press from the January Special Inspector General Report for Iraqi Reconstruction alleged DynCorp had improperly spent funds on 20 VIP trailers and an Olympic-size pool as well as over $36 million for body armor, armored vehicles and weapons it couldn't account. It's response: hire Qorvis, PR firm to the Saudi government...

Subvert the Republic for Empire, spread Fear in your misguided quest for Order throughout the Galaxy, some would respect you for that. But pastels?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One Stop Gonzogate Digest

Like cd points out, the attempted firing of the U.S. Prosecutors isn't just political, it's a sound business decision from the Company point of view.

It saved the tobacco industry $120 billion!

Corrente has had a lot to say about Gonzogate today.

Not Again, WaPo, More Covering Up For the White House?, Bush: revealing my crimes hurts the victims, cd's piece above, What's at stake in the USA firings [the Anonymous answer: "Complete politicization of the Justice Department empowers the administration to immunize criminals and to criminalize innocents"], Menu Foods Knew They Were Killing Your Dog ["No Gonzogate here"? What happens when corporations know they won't be prosecuted? You and your pooch go to the dogs], Rove: Still Safe from Congress?, Froomkin cranks knobs up to 11, brings the shrill, and No compromise on USA firings!

Let's hope not.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Ex-Agents Speak to the Company

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tries to communicate with the Dem Senate the same way it tried to tell the 'Thuglicans and the Preznit that Colin Powell (among others) was blowing gas at them about Iraq's WMD. But the Flatulence-in-Chief knew that all along. It was his gas, after all.

It's current talking points?

* The vast majority of the violence in Iraq is sectarian in nature and involves a multifaceted civil war mostly pitting Sunnis against Shias. However, the violence also entails secular Sunnis fighting Sunni extremists linked to al-Qaeda and secular Shias battling Shia extremists. The civil war aspect includes (as the January NIE put it) "the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements": in other words, a rabid dog fight with our troops in between. The only thing the various factions share is unflinching opposition to US occupation. But the notion that there is a monolithic group of "insurgents" or "enemy" falls far wide of the mark.

* Strategy in Iraq is based on the false assumptions that the "people" and the "insurgents" in Iraq are two distinct and opposing groups, and that US and Iraqi forces will be able to "clear" the insurgents and "hold" the people. In fact, the resistance will be suppressed in one area, only to re-emerge somewhere else (the attempt to suppress is appropriately called "Operation Whack-a-Mole"). It goes against virtually all historical precedent to suppose that an unwelcome invader with 150,000 troops - and Iraqi security forces that the NIE judged to be "persistently weak" - can occupy and subdue a large country with a population of 26 million and long-porous borders.

* The United States does not have enough military forces on the ground in Iraq to provide effective control of the cities and key regions to prevent violence and destroy insurgent infrastructure. Moreover, the US lacks sufficient soldiers and Marines in its current globally deployed force to provide sustained reinforcements. And absent is the political will to bring back the draft to obtain the number of troops required to get better control of the situation on the ground in Iraq. Even with a draft, the United States would require two years at a minimum to train and organize the new units for any mission in Iraq. Given these facts, there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

* A surge in US troops in specific areas, specifically Baghdad, may bring more than a momentary lessening in the violence, but it will not end the fighting. In fact, this concentrated surge will enable insurgent forces in other areas of the country to expand their operations and control. A de facto partitioning of Iraq is under way. Since the surge started, we have already seen an increase in violence in the Kurdish-controlled north.

* At current casualty rates, twelve more months will mean at least 1,000 additional US troops killed and 18 more months will bring at least 1,500 - not to mention Iraqis killed, and thousands upon thousands seriously wounded. The various Iraqi insurgent groups will probably fade into the woodwork for a while, but at a time and place of their choosing they will surely be back, in force. In the end, aside from the deaths, nothing lasting will have been achieved.

* Senior US civilian and military officials still don't get it. "They can't beat us in a stand-up fight," bragged our vice president just two months ago, echoing recent words of a US Army colonel in Iraq. This completely misses the point, and calls to mind the sad month of April 1975, when Col. Harry Summers was sent to negotiate with a North Vietnamese colonel the terms of American withdrawal from Vietnam. Summers reported the following exchange: "'You know, you never beat us on the battlefield,' I said to Colonel Tu, my North Vietnamese counterpart. 'That may be so,' he said, 'but it is also irrelevant.'"

* The critical parts of Iraq - Baghdad and southern Iraq - will be under the control of the Shia. Iran in turn will try to expand its aid and influence among both the Shia populace and the secular Sunnis.

* The US occupation continues to be a windfall for terrorist recruiters. An NIE of April 2006 on terrorism noted that the war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, whose numbers, it said, may be increasing faster than the US can reduce the threat. There is wide consensus among experienced observers that the war in Iraq makes it immensely more difficult to deal with the real threat of international terrorism.

* Violence in Iraq, at least for the midterm, will continue regardless of the presence. Once a departure is under way, there is an increased likelihood that the Sunnis and Shias will move toward a political accommodation of some sort, since at that point neither can count on the United States to fight on their side. The only thing in doubt is the timing of the US departure, and whether it can be accomplished without the massacres the British experienced trying to extricate themselves from earlier expeditions into Iraq. The lack of a substantial military presence in Iraq will have the counterintuitive effect of increasing the likelihood that neighboring countries will be more willing to take steps to help reduce the violence in Iraq.

Not that the Company cares, but it's nice to know somebody does.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The New Phantom Menace

Jeff Wells doesn't go for the "KSM did it all" and the "Forget Al-Qaeda, we've got bigger problems!" meme. He thinks we've got bigger problems alright, but forgeting Al-Qaeda is not just a bug, it's a feature of the worm.

[By the way, what do you think happened to his kids? I'd confess to pimping for Bill Clinton too, if it'd keep my kids from getting raped in Abu Gitmo...]

It's a recent trend of the 9-11 conspiracy chic to forget about Osama, whether propagated by internet flamethrowers or the White House. For example see the disinformational "Loose Change", where Osama is asserted as the fall guy if not written out of the plot altogether. Remember, the slickest way to lie is to tell part of the truth.

Coincidently, it's also the tack the Cheneyburton administration has been taking for awhile now. KSM was da man, Osama's a bit player, they say, really the danger is Iran, we've got the real perps, and pay no attention to the Saudis behind the curtain. Or the wealthy western oilmen, either. Or the people on the ground in Iraq.

Jeff Wells reminds us of the 2004 9/11 Citizens' Commission:

...watch anti-fascist researcher John Judge deconstruct the official Commission report, beginning with the simple question, "Who wrote it?" Authorship is unascribed, but it's written in a "lucid, almost novelistic" fashion, with a single voice. Judge mentions the Warren Commission Report also had a single, anonymous author, brought over from the Pentagon's Army Historical Division. Otto Winnacker's previous employer had been Adolph Hitler, as one of 26 official historians of Nazi Germany.

Watch Michael Springmann, former State Department diplomat, testify that the CIA were running the Jeddah consulate, instructing officials to issue visas to terrorists for reasons of "national security." Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers received their visas through Jeddah.

Watch Indira Singh describe her discovery of PTech's deep black links to both US security infrastructure and global narco-terror ("When I ran into the drugs I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me," says Singh), the sheltering of al qaeda financier Yassin al-Qadi (he "talked very highly of his relationship" with Dick Cheney, claims PTech's CEO Oussama Ziade), and the two years PTech spent with Mitre in the "FAA's basement" prior to 911.

Watch Paul Thompson rattle off ignored intelligence, the Randy Glass story (which some may find of particular interest since Glass claims he was told by Pakistani intelligence prior to 9/11 that "those towers are coming down"), and the triangulation of the ISI, the CIA and al Qaeda. Then there are the wargames, the reconstruction of Cheney's command and control, Sibel Edmonds.....

Any wagers on how often controlled demolition is mentioned?

It's a bit wistful and over the shoulder, viewing these now: this Truth Movement moment seems much longer ago than a mere three years. Is this the same 9/11 I hear about today? Because I hear none of these things anymore. Is this the same "Truth Movement"? Because today's sounds nothing like this. Is this even the same truth?

...Some of the most damning evidence presented by Classic Truth is that which ties state power to supra-state terror and criminality. Peter Dale Scott's definition of Deep Politics is "the constant, everyday interaction between the constitutionally elected government and forces of violence, forces of crime, which appear to be the enemies of that government." Al Qaeda, a creature of intelligence agencies, is one such node of contemporary deep politics. As recently as the mid-90s its Mujahadeen were NATO's unambiguous partner in Bosnia, helping to secure and profit by the Balkan trade route of Afghan heroin into Europe. The CIA were demanding visas for al Qaeda operatives in the consulate of bin Laden's hometown, and an al Qaeda financier was also hardwired into Washington's security apparatus. 9/11 cells were hosted by FBI informants and their flight schools were up to their altimeters in Iran-Contra-like narco-dollars. Al Qaeda's structure was penetrated up to the senior operational level, possibly including assets of ambiguous loyalty who helped plan and fund the attacks. (For instance Fort Bragg instructor and FBI informant Ali Mohammed, who trained those involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, oversaw al Qaeda's relocation to Afghanistan and taught hijackers how to smuggle box cutters onto aircraft.)

New Truth hamstrings itself - and perhaps on the part of some, that's the entire point of New Truth - by clearing the table of everything pertaining to al Qaeda and defining "inside job" as merely "inside the Beltway." Because it is by their parapolitical linkages to, and patronage of, the very forces of violence which appear to be their enemy, that governments most condemn themselves.

Doing away with all that does away with much of the High Crime, which a few might think a good thing. Watch the 2004 videos. How does the health and rigor and scope of New Truth compare? Which do you think the High Criminals prefer?

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Centurion's Lament

Chris Floyd has two interesting and informative pieces up today.

First, the Centurions need more denari and probably a slave army or two might help.

Rarely has the imperial hubris that lies at the basis of U.S. foreign policy – the unspoken, unquestioned assumption of America's right to global domination by force – been so nakedly revealed than in the recent Washington Post story decrying the degraded state of the Pentagon's military preparedness. ("Military is Ill-Prepared for Other Conflicts.") What makes the story so remarkable, and so valuable as a diagnostic tool for the health of the Republic (which could perhaps be most accurately described as "the sickness unto death") is that none of the generals or politicians quoted in the story – nor the writer herself – betray the slightest awareness of the moral obscenity upon which all their earnest concerns and diligent fact-finding are based.

On its surface, at the level of meaning it intends to convey to readers, the story is disturbing enough. The upshot is that Bush's reckless and stupid war of aggression in Iraq has plunged American military stocks and manpower reserves into a "death spiral" of depletion that will take years – and untold billions of dollars – to replenish. This in turn has put the United States in a horribly exposed strategic position, with the Pentagon incapable of responding "quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises," as the Post puts it. For example, the Army no longer has even a single brigade "ready to deploy within hours to an overseas hot spot," we're told. The highest brass – Joint Chief Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, and his vice chief, Gen. Richard Cody – attest, under oath, to the woeful state of unreadiness. Anonymous "senior officers" interviewed by the reporter then make clear the implications of their bosses' plaintive but coded warnings: the Iraq War is bleeding us dry.

On the second level of meaning – which the reporter may or may not have consciously intended to put across – we find something equally disturbing. Note well what the nation's top military officer, General Pace, has to say about this state of unreadiness:

In earlier House testimony, Pace said the military, using the Navy, Air Force and reserves, could handle one of three major contingencies, involving North Korea or -- although he did not name them -- Iran or China. But, he said, "It will not be as precise as we would like, nor will it be on the timelines that we would prefer, because we would then, while engaged in one fight, have to reallocate resources and remobilize the Guard and reserves."

The true import here is not so much the casualness with which these Beltway players – the generals, the legislators and the reporters – regard the prospect of war with North Korea, Iran and China as an unavoidable natural fact, something that is bound to happen sooner or later, and for which we must be massively steeled. This attitude is troubling, of course, but it's hardly news. No, what gives cause for the greatest immediate concern in Pace's remarks is his observation that in a coming "major contingency" – such as the all-but-inevitable attack on Iran – the Pentagon's campaign "will not be as precise as we would like." What is this but a tacit admission that when push comes to shove with Tehran, the United States will have to go in with a sledgehammer, lashing out left and right – no "surgical strike" against alleged nuclear facilities, but a blunderbuss assault, with the attendant "collateral damage" and destruction of civilian infrastructure that we have seen in Iraq (twice), Kosovo, Panama, Vietnam and other "contingencies."

Again, all of this is bad enough in itself. But it is the third level of meaning – never expressed either directly or indirectly but embodied by the story as a whole -- that is the most profoundly disturbing. The present state of affairs leaves the nation at grave risk, we are told. Why? Because it leaves the United States somewhat hobbled in its ability to impose its will military on any nation or region it so chooses. Again, attend to General Pace as he tells Congress that he is "not comfortable" with the Army's readiness:

"You take a lap around the globe -- you could start any place: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Colombia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea, back around to Pakistan, and I probably missed a few. There's no dearth of challenges out there for our armed forces," Pace warned in his testimony.

This is not the statement of a military officer serving in the armed forces of a democratic republic devoted to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of its citizens. This is the action list of a Roman general seeking more funds so that he might fulfill Caesar's commands for further conquests and punitive raids beyond the frontiers of the Empire...

But why go abroad when you can serve your Caesar at home? There seem to be lots of wanna-bee Centurions- brave as long as they're backed by someone else's real muscle.

This weekend someone tried to create a situation that could precipitate an invocation of martial law:

Winter Patriot has an important post up at his place, with eyewitness accounts of the treatment doled out to anti-war protestors in Washington on Saturday by bellicose"counter-protestors," who were sometimes backed by the authorities on the scene in their attacks and attempts to block legitimate, patriotic dissent.

Of course, it's not surprising that a group of pro-war marchers came out in opposition to the anti-war rally. That's a good thing; it represents freedom of speech, politics in action, etc. What is disturbing, however, is that many of counter-demonstrators were spurred to action -- and anger -- by patently false reports disseminated by the right-wing propaganda network: ludicrous charges that the anti-war protestors planned to deface the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. As one of WP's correspondents put it:

Somehow they felt a bunch of peace activists were going to damage the national monument which bears the names of over 55,000 dead soldiers who gave their lives in the illegal, immoral war for profit of 40 years ago...To me, it was nothing less than astonishing to see that a number of people have been so brainwashed to believe that we are anti-troop, don’t know the value of freedom and are “anti-democracy”. What was more astonishing were those that were completely ignorant of the Bill of Rights, that they challenged and acted physically aggressive to the peace activists, minding their own business, trying to get to the march.

The baseless call to "defend" the Memorial was almost certainly a deliberate "psy-ops" action designed to foment rage and disrupt the protest. No doubt its designers hoped that the anti-war protestors would react with violence to the often extreme provocations they faced from the stirred-up pro-war packs. They failed in this aim, but the response they drew from the false and virulent propaganda could well serve as a template for further, larger actions along the same lines.

Whether this plan emerged directly from the clotted bowels of the Bush Administration itself or sprang from one of the many private right-wing hate factories makes little difference; the official and non-official wings of the extremist Right have long since merged...

Sadly, No gives us "The Anatomy of a Con Job," detailing just how the Malkinite toadies hyped the imaginary "threat" to the Memorial -- and how they are now busily constructing an alternate reality trumpeting the success of their "Eagles" in preventing an imaginary threat by showing up in imaginary numbers. (The wingnut wire universally claims that 30,000 pro-war whoopers came out on the march, offering non-existent estimates by government agencies as "proof" of their fantasizing...)

A psychological operation apparently designed by non-professionals and implemented upon the ignorant.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Long Doublethink on Terra

What more can I add to Frank Rich's The Ides of March 2003?

...March 6, 2003

President Bush holds his last prewar news conference. The New York Observer writes that he interchanged Iraq with the attacks of 9/11 eight times, “and eight times he was unchallenged.” The ABC News White House correspondent, Terry Moran, says the Washington press corps was left “looking like zombies.”

March 7, 2003

Appearing before the United Nations Security Council on the same day that the United States and three allies (Britain, Spain and Bulgaria) put forth their resolution demanding that Iraq disarm by March 17, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, reports there is “no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.”. He adds that documents “which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” None of the three broadcast networks’ evening newscasts mention his findings.

[In 2005 ElBaradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.]

March 10, 2003

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks tells an audience in England, “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Boycotts, death threats and anti-Dixie Chicks demonstrations follow.

[In 2007, the Dixie Chicks won five Grammy Awards, including best song for “Not Ready to Make Nice.”]

March 12, 2003

A senior military planner tells The Daily News “an attack on Iraq could last as few as seven days.”

“Isn’t it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?”

— John McCain, writing for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

“The Pentagon still has not given a name to the Iraqi war. Somehow ‘Operation Re-elect Bush’ doesn’t seem to be popular.”

— Jay Leno, “The Tonight Show.”

March 14, 2003

Senator John D. Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, asks the F.B.I. to investigate the forged documents cited a week earlier by El Baradei and alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium transaction: “There is a possibility that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq.”

March 16, 2003

On “Meet the Press,” Dick Cheney says that American troops will be “greeted as liberators,” that Saddam “has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda organization,” and that it is an “overstatement” to suggest that several hundred thousand troops will be needed in Iraq after it is liberated. Asked by Tim Russert about ElBaradei’s statement that Iraq does not have a nuclear program, the vice president says, “I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.”

“There will be new recruits, new recruits probably because of the war that’s about to happen. So we haven’t seen the last of Al Qaeda.”

— Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism czar, on ABC’s “This Week.”

[From the recently declassified “key judgments” of the National Intelligence Estimate of April 2006: “The Iraq conflict has become the cause célèbre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”]

“Despite the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to give Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or where they are hidden, according to administration officials and members of Congress. Senior intelligence analysts say they feel caught between the demands from White House, Pentagon and other government policy makers for intelligence that would make the administration’s case ‘and what they say is a lack of hard facts,’ one official said.”

— “U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms,” by Walter Pincus (with additional reporting by Bob Woodward), The Washington Post, Page A17.

March 17, 2003

Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, who voted for the Iraq war resolution, writes the president to ask why the administration has repeatedly used W.M.D. evidence that has turned out to be “a hoax” — “correspondence that indicates that Iraq sought to obtain nuclear weapons from an African country, Niger.”

[Still waiting for “an adequate explanation” of the bogus Niger claim four years later, Waxman, now chairman of the chief oversight committee in the House, wrote Condoleezza Rice on March 12, 2007, seeking a response “to multiple letters I sent you about this matter.”]

In a prime-time address, President Bush tells Saddam to leave Iraq within 48 hours: “Every measure has been made to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.” After the speech, NBC rushes through its analysis to join a hit show in progress, “Fear Factor,” where men and women walk with bare feet over broken glass to win $50,000.

March 18, 2003

Barbara Bush tells Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she will not watch televised coverage of the war: “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

[Visiting the homeless victims of another cataclysm, Hurricane Katrina, at the Houston Astrodome in 2005, Mrs. Bush said, “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this — this is working very well for them.”]

In one of its editorials strongly endorsing the war, The Wall Street Journal writes, “There is plenty of evidence that Iraq has harbored Al Qaeda members.”

[In a Feb. 12, 2007, editorial defending the White House’s use of prewar intelligence, The Journal wrote, “Any links between Al Qaeda and Iraq is a separate issue that was barely mentioned in the run-up to war.”]

In an article headlined “Post-war ‘Occupation’ of Iraq Could Result in Chaos,” Mark McDonald of Knight Ridder Newspapers quotes a “senior leader of one of Iraq’s closest Arab neighbors,” who says, “We’re worried that the outcome will be civil war.”

A questioner at a White House news briefing asserts that “every other war has been accompanied by fiscal austerity of some sort, often including tax increases” and asks, “What’s different about this war?” Ari Fleischer responds, “The most important thing, war or no war, is for the economy to grow,” adding that in the president’s judgment, “the best way to help the economy to grow is to stimulate the economy by providing tax relief.”

After consulting with the homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, the N.C.A.A. announces that the men’s basketball tournament will tip off this week as scheduled. The N.C.A.A. president, Myles Brand, says, “We were not going to let a tyrant determine how we were going to lead our lives.”

March 19, 2003

“I’d guess that if it goes beyond three weeks, Bush will be in real trouble.”

— Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel teaching at Boston University, quoted in The Washington Post.

[“Many parts of Iraq are stable. But of course what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.”

— Laura Bush, “Larry King Live,” Feb. 26, 2007.]

[The March 2007 installment of the Congressionally mandated Pentagon assessment “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” reported (.pdf) that from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9, 2007, there were more than 1,000 weekly attacks, up from about 400 in spring 2004.]

Robert McIlvaine, whose 26-year-old son was killed at the World Trade Center 18 months earlier, is arrested at a peace demonstration at the Capitol in Washington. He tells The Washington Post: “It’s very insulting to hear President Bush say this is for Sept. 11.”

“I don’t think it is reasonable to close the door on inspections after three and a half months,” when Iraq’s government is providing more cooperation than it has in more than a decade.

— Hans Blix, chief weapons inspector for the United Nations.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 71 percent of Americans support going to war in Iraq, up from 59 percent before the president’s March 17 speech.

“When the president talks about sacrifice, I think the American people clearly understand what the president is talking about.”

— Ari Fleischer

[Asked in January 2007 how Americans have sacrificed, President Bush answered: “I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.”]

Pentagon units will “locate and survey at least 130 and as many as 1,400 possible weapons sites.”

— “Disarming Saddam Hussein; Teams of Experts to Hunt Iraq Arms” by Judith Miller, The Times, Page A1.

President Bush declares war from the Oval Office in a national address: “Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure.”

Price of a share of Halliburton stock: $20.50

[Value of that Halliburton share on March 16, 2007, adjusted for a split in 2006: $64.12.]

March 20, 2003

“The pictures you’re seeing are absolutely phenomenal. These are live pictures of the Seventh Cavalry racing across the deserts in southern Iraq. They will — it will be days before they get to Baghdad, but you’ve never seen battlefield pictures like these before.”

— Walter Rodgers, an embedded CNN correspondent...

“Coalition forces suffered their first casualties in a helicopter crash that left 12 Britons and 4 Americans dead.”

— The Associated Press...

March 21, 2003

“I don’t mean to be glib about this, or make it sound trite, but it really is a symphony that has to be orchestrated by a conductor.”

— Retired Maj. Gen. Donald Shepperd, CNN military analyst, speaking to Wolf Blitzer of the bombardment of Baghdad during Shock and Awe...

“The president may occasionally turn on the TV, but that’s not how he gets his news or his information. ... He is the president, he’s made his decisions and the American people are watching him.”

— Ari Fleischer.

[The former press secretary received immunity from prosecution in the Valerie Wilson leak case and testified in the perjury trial of Scooter Libby in 2007.]

“Peter, I may be going out on a limb, but I’m not sure that the first stage of this Shock and Awe campaign is really going to frighten the Iraqi people. In fact, it may have just the opposite effect. If they feel that they’ve survived the most that the United States can throw at them and they’re still standing, and they’re still able to go about their lives, well, then they might be rather emboldened. They might feel that, well, look, we can stand a lot more than this.”

— Richard Engel, a Baghdad correspondent speaking to Peter Jennings on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

Perhaps a recap of the War on Terra at the Ides of March 2007, by David Michael Green:

...Has there ever been an American administration which wrapped itself so tightly in the flag? Have we ever had a government which hid its policies so carefully behind their supposed interest in the welfare of the troops? If you didn’t know any better (which was precisely the idea) you’d have thought these people were tough American war veterans themselves, tempered in the crucible of battle, and now just empathetically looking out for the welfare of today’s kids in situations similar to those in which they had once found themselves.

Never mind that none of them bothered to make their way over to Nam and pitch-in during their day. Except, of course, the only one who opposed the war (privately, that is, while he was selling it publicly at the United Nations). The same one they dumped right after the next election. But Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice – somehow none of these hyperpatriots ever managed to translate their jingoistic enthusiasm into actually putting themselves into harm’s way.

And yet any American – even (or is it especially?) a real combat veteran – who dares doubt the wisdom of the president’s breathtakingly transparent folly in Iraq has his or her patriotism publicly called into suspicion, always in the name of supporting the troops. To speak the truth is to risk accusations of treason.

Somehow, to call for our soldiers to be removed from a chaotic civil war which was sold on lies from the beginning, and cannot be won but only prolonged until this gang is safely out of office, is failing to support the troops. But sacrificing these soldiers – over three thousand now, with tens of thousands if not as many as a hundred thousand of them gravely injured – for these lies, and to protect this president’s pride, is supporting the troops.

Somehow, calling for these troops to come home safely is undermining them. But sending them on a mission invading an ancient civilization, when the fool who sent them there had only learned of the distinction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims months after he had decided to go to war, is supporting the troops.

Somehow, criticizing the war is an unpatriotic act that disrespects the troops, but sending them to Iraq in insufficient numbers to possibly succeed in order to test the pet theory of a now-fired Secretary of Defense is supporting them.

Somehow, criticizing a commander-in-chief who can’t be bothered to attend a single military funeral is undermining our war effort. But his failing to equip our soldiers with proper armor – to this day, four years into the war – such that their home communities have literally held bake sales to properly outfit them with life-saving protection, that is supporting the troops.

Somehow, it is unpatriotic blasphemy to complain that Americans are being kept, for the first time ever, from seeing the caskets of their fallen soldiers returning to American soil at Dover Air Force Base. But leaving the injured ones to rot in squalid conditions at Walter Reed and elsewhere (haven’t they given enough yet, Mr. Bush?) is supporting the troops.

Somehow, it’s okay for the president to run around the world talking about the importance of freedom, as if he had the faintest clue. While at home his administration has been intimidating and silencing these very same injured soldiers, threatening them if they talk to the press. All in the name of supporting them, of course.

Somehow, the administration can question the patriotism of Congress when it contemplates conditioning war appropriations with requirements that the troops be adequately trained, equipped and rested. But the same administration ‘supports’ those troops by denying and delaying disability benefits to injured veterans in order to help maintain the public lie about the fiscal costs of the war.

Somehow, believing that the burdens of national security – not to mention the momentous policy of invading and occupying another country – ought to be shared by all Americans through a military draft is some kind of socialist plot. But sending Guard and Reserve troops who were never intended for this sort of deployment into three, four and five rotations, not relieving them with regular military draftees, and sticking them alongside highly paid no-bid contractor mercenaries who comprise nearly half the forces on site, that is supporting the troops.

Somehow, criticizing the administration for torturing, humiliating and murdering POWS in hell-holes like Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo, while trashing the Geneva Conventions as “obsolete” and “quaint”, is being soft on terrorism. But the president was supporting the troops when he said of five Americans captured early in the war, “We expect them to be treated humanely, just like we'll treat any prisoners of theirs that we capture humanely”. God help American soldiers if they are treated the way we’ve treated theirs.

Somehow, caring for the wounded returning from Iraq represents some sort of vaguely liberal anti-American project that ‘compassionate conservatives’ (the oxymoron of the century) find all too suspect. But returning them to the battlefield, as this administration is now doing, even before they’ve recovered from their wounds is a fine case of supporting the troops.

And somehow, arguing that the Iraq war was a ridiculous and tragic diversion from the campaign against al Qaeda only betrays the naiveté of the fools – including former high officials in the Reagan, Bush and even Bush Junior administrations – dumb enough to make such comments. (We either fight them over there or we fight them here, you know.) But creating international chaos, global antipathy toward the United States and legions of angry new terrorists today, whom our soldiers can expect to have to face in battle tomorrow, is supporting the troops...

The Big Lie is still alive and well, and the big liars are doing quite nicely still.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre

Bill Maher on sacrifice:

Maher: And finally, new rule: liberals must stop saying President Bush hasn't asked Americans to sacrifice for the War on Terror. On the contrary, he's asked us to sacrifice something enormous: Our civil rights.

Now, when I heard George Bush was reading my e-mails, I probably had the same reaction you did–George Bush can read?! (Laughter.) Yes he can, and this administration has read your phone records, credit card statements, mail, internet logs… I can't tell if their fighting the War on Terror or producing the next season of Cheater. (Laughter.) I mail myself a copy of the Consitution every morning, just on the hope they'll open it and see what it says! (Laughter and applause).

So when it comes to sacrifice, don't kid yourself–you *have* given up a lot! You've given up faith in your government's honesty, the good will of people overseas, and 6/10 of the Bill of Rights. Here's what you've sacrificed: search and seizure, warrents, self incrimination, trial by jury, cruel and unusual punishment. Here's what you have left: handguns, religion, and they can't make you quarter a British soldier. If Prince Harry invades the inland empire, he has to bring a tent. (Laughter).

You know, in previous wars, Americans on the homefront made a very different kind of sacrifice. During World War II, we endured rationing, payed higher taxes, bought war bonds, and in the interest of national unity, people even pretended Bob Hope was funny. (Laughter.) Right–like you laughed at him!

Women donated their silk undergarments so they could be sewn into parachutes. Can you imagine nowadays a Britney Spears or a Lindsay Lohan going without underwear? (Laughter.) Bad example, but look, George Bush has never been too bright about understanding "furriners", but he does know Americans. He asked *this* generation to sacrifice the things he knew we would not miss–our privacy and our morality. He let us keep the money. But he made a cynical bet, that we wouldn't much care if we became a Big Brother country that has now tortured a lot of random people.

And yet no one asks the tough questions, like "Is torture necessary?", "Who will watch the watchers?" and "When does Jack Bauer go to the bathroom?" (Laughter.) I mean, it's been five years–is he wearing one of those astronaut diapers?

In conclusion, after September 11, President Bush told us Osama bin Laden "could run but he can't hide". But he ran and hid. (Laughter.) So Bush went to Plan B: pissing on the Constitution and torturing random people. Conservatives always say the great thing Reagan did was make us feel good about America again. Well, do you feel good about America now?

I'll give you my answer. And to get it out of me, you don't even need to hold my head under water and have a snarling guard dog rip my nuts off. (Laughter). No, I don't feel very good about that. They say evil happens when good men do nothing. Well, the Democrats proved it also happens when mediocre people do nothing.

Reality Calls for RICO

No theory, it's a fact.

What digby says"

Ron Brownstein and Matt Cooper were on Hardball today (a refreshingly excellent show when it's hosted by David Gregory instead of you-know-who) discussing the Plame hearing. Brownstein is a good reporter who usually gets it right, but today he betrayed a little bit of that beltway reflexive dismissiveness of anything "the left" finds important. He said that Waxman needed to pick his battles better because playing to the liberal blogosphere with hearings like this will create the same problems for Democrats that Republicans found themselves in when they went after Clinton. Setting aside the fact that the Republicans' "problems" resulted in them holding all three branches of government for six years, this sounds to me like one of those tired GOP talking points that reporters love to parrot because it distances them from the hippies.

It's especially ironic since we've just seen the mainstream press sporting dripping oozing egg yolk all over their faces over the US Attorney scandal, which they also dismissed as a figment of hippy conspiracy mongerer's imaginations. This knee jerk loathing of the left tends to lead them astray and they should check themselves before they do it.

Matt Cooper and David Gregory ably argued that the Democrats can hardly be called overly zealous since this is only the second hearing the congress ever held on the issue and Cooper pointed out that this is hardly a settled issue what with the possible pardon and all. Furthermore, the underlying "crime" that Waxman is getting at isn't the covert agent act which the lying Gorgon Toensing insists on arguing every five minutes. The crime was lying and misleading the United States of America into war, something that the congress damned well should be investigating. Valerie Plame's outing is a window into that crime and the Democrats are wise to explore her story to show just how far the administration was willing to go to cover their tracks. What a prosecutor cannot do --- prosecute a political crime --- the congress surely can.

There is a huge need for the Democrats to develop the record on this administration's many crimes. It's important for our future and it's important for history. What they have done should never, ever be repeated. You had the highest reaches of the white house casually revealing what was clearly "need to know" classified information (which they had no "need to know" in the first place) to reporters, for purely political purposes. The same people who did this later turned around and said that reporters for the Washington Post and NY Times should be investigated by the Justice Department for revealing classified information that was not released purely to punish a political enemy, but rather in true whistleblower fashion, to tell the nation what its government was illegally doing.

We now know that in the case of the NSA spying stories, the Attorney General personally intervened to stop an internal investigation of the program when it came too close to him, but allowed those who were investigating that alleged treason of the NY Times to carry on.

This is all part of a very large mosaic of government secrecy, political backstabbing and abuse of power. Those of us who were screaming about this until we are hoarse were dismissed out of hand when we argued that no administration should be allowed to seize such unchecked power and the assumption among the establishment was that it was just more of our "unhinged" hysteria.

It wasn't. This stuff happened and it's likely only the tip of the iceberg. If the press can get past their loathing of the dirty hippies for five minutes they will see that not only have we been right, we have been flogging some amazingly good stories for the past six years that had they bothered to report them would have been journalistic coups. We really aren't that nuts --- and the Bush administration really is that bad.