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

Friday, February 29, 2008

There's nothing like consistency

...in the 9-11 Report. Larisa Alexandrovna notes the Committee got it wrong all over the place, and provides links to the FBI reports to prove it, posted at the former Center for Co-operative research site, History Commons.

It's no surprise the net effect of most of their lies disinformation mistakes was the protection of the Saudi government ties the hijackers had.

A Mouth of Sauron Dies, Another Game is Begun

Chris Floyd pretty much sums up what I think:

... I've read William Buckley's scribblings for almost 40 years. And the idea that he could be considered an "intellectual" in any sense of the word just shows how thoroughly degraded our public discourse has become. Unless, of course, by "intellectual" you actually mean "guy who uses big words and urges on other people to take base and evil actions while he sits back in well-wadded comfort." Then yes, in that sense -- and in that sense only -- Buckley was indeed an "intellectual."

But if you are talking about quality of mind, scholarly depth and scope of understanding, only a fool would apply such a term to a moral cretin like William Buckley.

There are lots of fools, all over the spectrum.

February was very, very good for Barack, and despite the cartoon Hillary isn't hurting either. In fact, she has more cash in hand as of this moment than Obama. But she rates only slightly better with donors from the banking industry, the hedge fund/ private equity crowd, or the securities/ investment crowd.

All together, the candidates have already raised more than a half a billion dollars.

Perhaps Obama's rise is related to this popular response.

But it's not likely the exclusive reason. Chris Floyd again:

... by the choices he has made in picking advisers to help him shape his policies, he has given every indication that while his presidency might represent a better management and presentation of the current system, it will in no way overturn or even seriously challenge it on any essential point. In other words – and bearing in mind the type of not-insubstantial mitigations noted above – he will keep doing what Bush has been doing, only more competently, less radically, with a greater care for the long-term viability of the power structure. And what is that structure that Obama seeks to refine and extend? It is an imperial system based on militarism and the exaltation of elitist profit and privilege above all other concerns.

...We know that one of Obama's principal foreign policy advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, an incorrigible Great Gamester and one of the unsung architects of the modern world. It was Brzezinski who, as Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, devised the strategy of arming and funding violent Islamic extremists in order to destabilize Afghanistan and bait the Soviets into a military intervention to bolster their client regime in Kabul. Brzezinski can thus lay claim to being one of the fathers of the global jihad that has spawned – and been used to justify -- so much death and suffering….and so much profitable permanent war. We know that Obama has called for the American military to be even larger and more powerful, more ready to strike anywhere in the world with overwhelming force whenever the nation's "interests" – defined solely by the elite – are "threatened." We know that his plan for "withdrawing" from Iraq involves leaving an undetermined number of troops in the conquered land, carrying out the same "missions" which they are supposedly conducting now: training Iraqi security forces, fighting terrorism, protecting American assets and personnel, bringing "stability to the region," etc. And as Jeremy Scahill points out, Obama's plans could also lead to an increase in the number of private contractors – mercenaries – in Iraq. Obama has refused to support legislation banning the use of these volatile hired guns in war zones.

In all of this we can see that Obama is a "safe pair of hands" for the militarism that underpins the never-ending quest for America's "full spectrum dominance" over world affairs. The "hope" for genuine change in this regard is a tragic illusion, a hope projected onto, not embodied by Obama.

At least in the case of militarism, there is not a great deal of hypocrisy involved on Obama's part. His allegiance to the imperial project is fairly open. The domestic front, however, is a different matter. Here too Obama has become a blank screen onto which the hopes of millions for some kind of rectification of the ever-worsening economic and social injustices in American society are being projected. And again, while an Obama presidency would not be as openly radical and predatory as the Bush Regime in the pursuit of elitist profits, his choice of advisers gives every indication that his actual policies would differ largely in management and presentation, not in essence. Yet unlike the case with Obama's unabashedly militarist statements on foreign policy, the dichotomy between his progressive rhetoric on socioeconomic justice and the agenda of some of his top advisers and backers means he cannot escape the charge of hypocrisy.

A new report from Consortiumnews.com puts this in stark relief. It tells the back-story of the Finance Chair of Obama's campaign: a woman who was instrumental in devising and pushing the same kind of sub-prime loans and predatory lending practices that he now routinely denounces in public...

Obama has now put one of these "predators" in charge of his campaign finances; doubtless she – or someone else of that ilk – will be placed in charge of the nation's finances if he makes it to the White House. Thus once again, it appears that any hopes that an Obama presidency will produce genuine structural change in a system designed to perpetuate harsh injustices on behalf of a privileged elite will also prove to be a tragic and painful illusion.

And so the question returns to the individual conscience: do you choose to support the chance – the hope – for some mitigation of the system's evils? Or do you reject the system altogether? Again, this is a balance that each person must strike for themselves. But it should be done with eyes wide open – and no illusions.

There are no illusions here about Hillary either: but that pretty much goes without saying, because their Congressional voting records are pretty indistinguishable. On the other hand, Obama hasn't tried to disenfranchise and then steal the delegates to Michigan, Florida, and Texas. Yet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Denial of Service

Via Sharon Weinberger at Danger Room:

...Blackwater could have saved slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. In fact, Bhutto wanted to be saved by Blackwater, reports my new favorite magazine Serviam (the modern merc's Soldier of Fortune)...

They're mercenaries private security contractors for goodness sake; they'll save whoever the heck pays them. That's the point.

No, that's not right either, they'll save whoever pays them, as long as the State Department lets them, and the State Department wouldn't let them save Bhutto, the magazine reports:

"Serviam has learned that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, while campaigning for president in 2007, had asked for Blackwater to protect her from feared assassination. Highly placed sources tell Serviam that State Department officials, concerned about all the negative publicity from the Waxman hearings and the lawsuit, thought the company had become too controversial and vetoed the request."

I'm not discounting this version of events, but earlier reports from the Washington Times And the London Daily Telegraph indicated that Bhutto was looking at several security firms, including -- but not limited to -- Blackwater. Those articles, moreover, state that it was the Pakistani government, not the U.S. State Department, that cut the deal short (though I could imagine State Department balking at the deal as well)...

"Balking" is probably an understatement. They probably already had hired help ready to stand very close to Ms. Bhutto in her final moment of passion. In fact, they probably had insurance to make sure that moment came to be. Too many cooks might have actually saved the broth by mistake.

Speaking of passion plays, it looks like the Straight Talker has just won the endorsement of a big End-Timer.

It's always nice to think the man who wants to own the briefcase that could end the world has the support of the people ready and willing to see it end.

That's one service I'd like to pass on.

Lots of 500-lb Gorillas in the Room to Ignore

Maybe if we don't talk about them they'll go away.

Famine According to the United Nations, there is a global food shortage approaching quickly, egged on by the rising cost of fertilizer, the declining availability of water, the erosion and urbanization of cropland, and the substitution of ethanol-producing crops -- primarily corn -- for food crops. By next year at this time, we could start to see starvation in Asia and Africa on an unprecedented scale, with no stocks of grain in reserve to relieve the crisis.

The collapse of the U.S. dollar. With the world's reserve currency plunging in value to record lows, and the U.S. trade deficit soaring out of control, leaving the Federal Reserve with no ability to stem the fall, it's only a matter of time before the U.S. becomes a broken economy, unable to fund its deficits any longer. Already, shop owners in New York are accepting Euros and Canadian dollars for goods, seeing those bills as a better store of value than the Greenback. The OPEC nations, for sure, will not be far behind. Iran has already set in motion plans to accept only payment in Euros for its oil.

The loss of the Arctic ice sheet. It is increasingly looking like it is only a matter of years before the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer. Greenland is losing its huge cap of ice too at an accelerating rate, way past the outer limit imagined by UN scientists only last year. We could be looking at sea rises measured in meters in a matter of years, not decades, if this keeps up. There is growing evidence too that the Western Antarctic Ice Shelf too is melting at an increasing rate, adding to the risk.

An end to commercial fishing. Fish stocks in most of the world's key fisheries -- a primary source of protein for much of the world -- are nearing collapse, and the habitats, thanks to the scouring of sea bottoms by industrial fishing fleets -- are being destroyed forever. Add to that the acidification of the oceans thanks to airborne and river-borne pollutants, a process that is destroying the plankton at the bottom of the oceanic food chain, and we have another major food crisis on our hands, not to mention the loss of the world's primary carbon sink.

Climate disruptions. The oceans are warming, with a concomitant risk of ever worse El Nino phenomena in the Pacific, and the slowing and shrinking of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents critical to the global weather patterns upon which the world's current population centers have depended. This doesn't just mean more severe storms along America's coasts. It means, most likely, growing drought across the nation's midsection, a loss of snowpack in the Rockies, critical to irrigation in the western U.S., and catastrophic droughts in Africa, Asia, South Asia, and South America, and possibly even Spain and southern Europe.

Mass extinctions. It's not just the polar bears and black rhinos. Everything from songbirds to whales, sea otters to penguins, from the whole class of amphibians to even cottontail rabbits, are facing extinction. In fact, there are predictions from knowledgeable and cool-headed ecologists that in short order, we could see the mass extinction of perhaps half the species on the planet -- a tragic and dangerous event only seen several times in the half billion years of life on Earth.

Resource wars and mass migrations. The U.S., obsessed with controlling events in the world through its use of military power, has been run into a corner. The American military is now stymied in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and is at this point incapable of responding to yet another military crisis. Yet the world, for all the above reasons, is heading full-speed towards an era of global resource wars, as overcrowded countries full of starving people begin to press outward to claim lands with needed water, soil, and other resources. Desperate migrants will also predictably flee to safer havens, the U.S. included. No mere fence is going to stop this inexorable flow of desperate humanity.

See? There are all kinds of interesting issues the General Dynamics News can avoid talking about for the Pentagon. Maybe Britney's getting out of rehab soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chosing Sides

As if there was any doubt:

...President Bush sided with banks and mortgage lenders on Tuesday, threatening to veto a bill being offered by Senate Democrats that would give more bargaining power to homeowners who face foreclosure.

Opening what is likely to be an intense political battle in the deepening mortgage crisis, the White House said it strongly opposed the bill, which would let bankruptcy court judges modify the terms of a mortgage as part of the restructuring of a debt in a bankruptcy filing.

Supporters of the legislation say it could prevent as many as 600,000 home foreclosures affecting people who took out tickler or other complicated mortgages and now face steep increases in interest rates and monthly payments.

Consumer and civil rights groups argue that the change in bankruptcy law would provide the surest way of helping families renegotiate mortgages that have been bundled into complex securities and sold to investors.

But mortgage lenders, and the Wall Street firms that purchased the loans, have mounted a campaign against the bill, saying it would send a chilling message to investors and lead to higher borrowing costs in the future...

Unlike most other kinds of debt, including loans for vacation homes and rental properties, mortgages on a primary residence are outside the power of federal bankruptcy judges to change...

The Bush administration has started a program it calls Hope Now, which encourages mortgage lenders to modify loans and sometimes freeze interest rates for people who face big increases in their monthly payments.

But that program is voluntary, and the guidelines for providing relief are so narrow that it is expected to help only a tiny fraction of the 1.8 million subprime mortgage borrowers facing increases in these initial rates. Nor would the program provide help to people whose homes have declined in value and can no longer be sold for enough to pay off the mortgage.

Supporters argue that the bill could prevent more than 600,000 foreclosures, which are often more costly to lenders than reductions in monthly payments, and would prevent a chain reaction of declines in home prices in neighborhoods surrounding the foreclosed homes.

“Avoiding foreclosure can’t be just a part of the proposal, it is the heart of the proposal,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and sponsor of the Senate measure...

Meaning of course, the government would have to be getting real about the rescue, which is something Dear Leader would never allow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pogroms by Any Other Name

Unless you were looking you might have missed the fact that last weekend Turkey launched a large-scale invasion of Northern Iraq.

Kurds being a long time irritant to the last vestige of the Ottoman Empire, and Dear Leader being through with any present use for them.

Cloned Poster's rationale over at the Moon of Alabama for why we allowed this sounds accurate:

* Turkey sending an operational brigade of soldiers to Afghanistan.
* Turkey opening up the way for US soldiers to transfer out of Iraq using Turkish soil.
* The setting up of a missile system in Turkey.

What's not to like?

Besides, if things heat up fast enough, he might be able to cancel this silly election thing altogether.

Interesting Times

There are a lot of people noticing the gathering acrimony in the progressive blogsphere about the Democratic candidacy.

What has happened? Welcome to Information Warfare.

Whenever you read something that greatly inflames you written by one you would regard as a sister or brother, bank the fire.

We live in a time not only of Total Information Awareness, we live in a time of Information Warfare.

It’s not just the D.o’D. doing it. It’s all their contractors, and their subcontractors, and their allies and operatives. It’s all their moles and proxies. The handpuppets themselves have puppets, and their masters move on strings even they can not see.

It’s time to be a grown up. It’s time to understand your own motivations and priorities. It’s a time to test your humanity and values like no other, because you can trust only what you know, and you must know the database is corrupted.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lone Gunman Revisited

Would they lie to you?

The official record states that senator Robert F Kennedy, like his brother before him, was killed by a crazed lone gunman. But the assassination of a man who seemed to embody so much hope for a bitterly divided country embroiled in an unpopular war still troubles this nation.

Little about the official explanation of the events at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5 1968 makes sense. Now a new forensic analysis of the only audio recording of the fatal shots has given new weight to a controversial theory that there were in fact two shooters, and that the man convicted of Kennedy's killing — Sirhan Sirhan - did not fire the fatal shots.

Following his victory speech to supporters after clinching a tight democratic primary victory in California, Kennedy left the podium in the Embassy ballroom to address a press conference.

But the shortcut he and his entourage took through the hotel's pantry quickly descended into bloody mayhem. As Kennedy turned from shaking hands with two of the kitchen staff, a gunman stepped forward and began firing. Kennedy was hit by four shots including one which lodged in the vertebrae in his neck and another which entered his brain from below his right ear. He died in hospital the following day. Five other people were injured but survived.

Sirhan - a Palestinian refugee who said he wanted to "sacrifice" Kennedy "for the cause of the poor exploited people" - was quickly apprehended. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

"Sirhan was apprehended at the scene with literally a smoking gun," said acoustic forensic expert Philip Van Praag of PVP Designs, who has carried out the new analysis. "At the beginning many people looked upon this as an open-and-shut case. It was one man, Sirhan Sirhan, who was observed by a number of people, who aimed and fired a gun in the direction of Kennedy's entourage."

But the lone gunman explanation has always looked shaky. The autopsy of Kennedy's body suggested that all four shots that hit him came from behind, and powder marks on his skin showed they must have been from close range.

But Sirhan was in front of Kennedy when he fired, and after shooting two shots was overcome by hotel staff, who pinned him to a table. Also, Sirhan fired eight shots in total, yet 14 were found lodged around the room and in the victims.

"There is no doubt in our minds that no fewer than 14 shots were fired in the pantry on that evening and that Sirhan did not in fact kill Senator Kennedy," said Robert Joling, a forensic scientist who has been involved with the Kennedy case for nearly 40 years. He and Van Praag have published a book on the killing this week entitled "An Open and Shut Case".

The inconsistencies in the case have bred numerous conspiracy theories, including the involvement of the CIA and the idea that Sirhan - who claims not to remember the shooting and pleaded insanity at his trial - was a "Manchurian Candidate" assassin who was hypnotically programmed to kill the senator.

Now Van Praag has added new weight to the 'two shooters' theory. He reanalysed the only audio recording of the shooting, which was made by an independent journalist, Stanislaw Pruszynski. "At the time Pruszynski was not even aware that his recorder was still on," said Van Praag.

The recording quality is poor, but it is possible to make out 13 shots over the course of just over 5 seconds, before what Van Praag describes as "blood-curdling screams" obscure the sound. That is more than the eight rounds that Sirhan's cheap Iver Johnson Cadet 55 revolver carried.

Also, there are two pairs of double shots that occurred so close together it is inconceivable that Sirhan could have fired them all. The third and fourth shots and the seventh and eighth were separated by 122 and 149 milliseconds respectively. In tests, a trained firearms expert firing under ideal conditions could only manage 366 milliseconds between shots using the same weapon. And he was not being pinned to a table at the time.

Lastly, five of the shots - 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 in the sequence - were found to have odd acoustic characteristics when specific frequencies were analysed separately. Van Praag thinks this is because they came from a different gun pointing away from Pruszynski's microphone.

To recreate this he recorded the sounds made by firing the Iver Johnson and another revolver, a Harrison and Richardson 922. At least one member of Kennedy's entourage was carrying this weapon when the killing happened. In the acoustic tests it produced the same frequency anomalies Van Praag had seen in the original recording but only when fired away from the microphone.

He presented his results on Thursday at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Washington DC.

Paul Schrade, a close associate of Kennedy's who was director of the United Auto Workers union, was at the senator's side in the pantry and was shot in the head. He told the meeting that America lost an outstanding leader and potentially great president that day.

"I think we were in a position of really changing this country," he said. "What we lost was a real hope and possibility of having a better country and having better relations around the world."

He wants to see the case reopened and properly investigated. "We're going to go ahead and do our best to find out who the second gunman was and that's going to take a lot of work," he said.

Van Praag also wants the case reexamined. "We would hope that the evidence that we have uncovered ... would make a strong enough case to get serious consideration once again by the authorities," he said.

Only if said authorities could blame it on Iran instead.

There are days when I wonder if John Titor was right

... in some bubble of the multiverse after all.

By the way, did I ever tell anyone I thought Geraldine Ferraro was a real Superdelegate of the Ass Party? 'Cause she's really not a Democrat. Democracy is the dead last thing she wants.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?"

Chris Floyd nails it again:

...while the feathers fly and the fan dancers trot across the electoral stage, the deadly, democracy-killing business of empire-building grinds on behind the gaudy scenes. And not a single one of the top troika are taking a stand against it; indeed, all of them have made their commitment to American military dominance of the planet – and their proud refusal to take any option "off the table" in world affairs – crystal clear. What we are seeing now – and what we will see when the race narrows down to just a pair of geeks chomping at the chicken – is simply a debate over the best way to keep the empire in fighting trim while gussying up some of the ham-handed excesses of the past few years.

A few days ago came the news – ignored or buried by almost every venue of that non-stop multi-platform media echo chamber – that the United States has made a very significant, and very permanent, addition its empire of bases: one that American officials freely admit will allow them to project "full spectrum" military dominance over 27 sovereign nations. And of course, what is most noteworthy about the development, reported in full in the Pentagon's own Stars and Stripes newspaper, is that this astonishing declaration of imperial aggression and hubris is regarded as something completely normal – indeed laudatory...

...this permanent, force-projecting base is of course just the icing on the imperial cake in the region; the U.S. military already has its boots in the ground all over the area, as the newspaper notes:

'Col. Michael A. Carroll, USARCENT’s chief of staff, said the command has a footprint in 22 of the area’s 27 countries, where it conducts theater security engagements, peacekeeping and exercises with other militaries. [Not to mention a couple of good ole shootin' wars.]

'…Lovelace said the war on terror and a need to be more operationally focused compelled the Army to alter its approach. “You don’t have the element of time on your side anymore, like we did in the Cold War. We’ve got to be ready tonight," he said. "That’s why now you have that broader commitment." '

Strange how the "element of time" has narrowed so drastically; I remember being told back in those Cold War days that we were always, forever just six minutes away from nuclear annihilation: that's how long it would take a Soviet first strike to reach the heartland of the Homeland. But of course, as we all know, the few thousand actual Islamic terrorists out there – most of them in the pay of our allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, when they're not actually drawing checks from the CIA and the Pentagon – pose a far greater threat to the existence of the nation than the vast, globe-spanning nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union ever did. Thus the need for planting new gargantuan, permanent military bases in the world's most volatile regions is more urgent and important than ever.

And that's why the new "full spectrum" Army base in Kuwait is just one of the force-projecting fortresses going up all over the world. As William Arkin reports in the Washington Post (not in the actual paper, mind you, but on the Post's blog):

'The Air Force and Navy, meanwhile, have set up additional permanent bases in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. By permanent I mean large and continuing American headquarters and presences, most of which are maintained through a combination of coalition activities, long-standing bilateral agreements and official secrecy. Tens of billions have been plowed into the American infrastructure. Admiral William J. Fallon, the overall commander of the region, was just in Oman this week after a trip to Iraq to secure continuing American military bases in that country.'

This new base-building, Arkin says, astutely, has a two-fold purpose. First, it is part of the necessary infrastructure for continuing the war in Iraq on a permanent basis. Second, it is creating "facts on the ground" – like Ariel Sharon's illegal settlements all over Palestinian land – that any future president will find hard to undo…assuming that anyone who was not already committed heart-and-soul to imperial expansion would ever be allowed to get near the White House in the first place. As Arkin puts it:

'When a war with Iran loomed and World War III seemed to be gaining traction in the Bush administration, this entire base structure was seen as the "build-up" for the next war. The build-up of course began decades ago, but since 9/11, the focus has been almost exclusively "supporting" U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is there, but to interpret the planting of the American flags and the moving of chess pieces as being focused on Tehran is to miss what is really going on.

'Regardless of who is elected, in the coming year U.S. combat forces in Iraq will undoubtedly continue to contract to a fewer number of combat brigades and special operations forces focused on counter-terrorism and the mission of continuing to train and mentor the Iraqi Army and police forces. Much of the "war" that is already being fought is being supported from Kuwait and other locations, and the ongoing shifts seem to point to an intent to increasingly pull additional functions and people out of harm's way.

'Of course they will not be out of harm's way at all, because a permanent American military presence in the region brings with it its own dangers and provocations. But most important what it brings for the next president is a fait accompli: a pause that facilitates a drawdown that begins to look a lot like a continuation of the same military and strategic policy, even at a time when there is broad questioning as to whether this is the most effective way to fight "terrorism." '

Arkin is of course being over-polite in his conclusion: it has long been clear that the Bush Administration's policies – repeatedly ratified by the bipartisan foreign policy establishment – have nothing to do with fighting "terrorism," effectively or otherwise. It is a demonstrable fact – attested to by the Administration's own intelligence services – that these policies are actually exacerbating, empowering and emboldening terrorism all over the world. It is also obvious – albeit far less openly acknowledged – that these policies are themselves a form of terrorism: state terrorism, on a massive scale, which has already killed at least a million people in Iraq alone.

But Arkin is right on the money in noting that these developments – which have drawn not a peep of protest or the slightest questioning from the great "progressives" seeking the Democratic nomination (much less the bilious bagman cruising to the GOP nod) – are indeed "a continuation of the same military and strategic policy" that is driving the imperial war-state on to more "full spectrum operations" all over the world, for decades to come. And much as I might wish it to be otherwise, I have seen nothing to make me believe that any of the chicken-chompers bound for the White House will make any actual, substantial changes in this policy, much less begin the task of rolling back the empire...

Chris has a really good idea exactly what it is. It's a pity that more people don't.

Paper Trails

Senator McCain keeps on forgetting some people have longer memories than the main$tream:

WASHINGTON — In late 1998, Senator John McCain sent an unusually blunt letter to the head of the Federal Communications Commission, warning that he would try to overhaul the agency if it closed a broadcast ownership loophole.

The letter, and two later ones signed by Mr. McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, urged the commission to abandon plans to close a loophole vitally important to Glencairn Ltd., a client of Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist. The provision enabled one of the nation’s largest broadcasting companies, Sinclair, to use a marketing agreement with Glencairn, a far smaller broadcaster, to get around a restriction barring single ownership of two television stations in the same city.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. McCain denounced an article in The New York Times that described concerns by top advisers a decade ago about his ties to Ms. Iseman, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay. He said he never had any discussions with his advisers about Ms. Iseman and never did any favors for any lobbyist...

I'm sure he never discussed it with his advisers before he signed his name on that letter.

Meanwhile, other less sexy but more serious troubles for the Straight Talker. John Aravosis:

...When John McCain's campaign was strapped for cash John McCain opted into the campaign financing system by requesting certification that he was eligible to collect federal money. As the New Hampshire primary approached and John McCain was broke he took material advantage of the system by using the promise of matching funds to borrow money to keep his campaign afloat. And he took advantage of a rule that gives candidates who take public financing automatic ballot access on ballots in several states. (Governor Dean estimated that he spent 3 million dollars in 2004 getting on ballots in states because he had opted out of the public financing system. )

Once John McCain had taken advantage of the system by gaining ballot access and securing a campaign saving loan, he won the New Hampshire primary and became the apparent nominee of the Republican Party. He then sent a letter saying that he was opting out of the primary process and claiming that the FEC is now impotent to stop him.

If John McCain is forced to stay in the matching system he will only be allowed to spend $56 million dollars before the Republican convention in September. As of the end of January John McCain had already spent $49 million dollars meaning that today he's either close to the cap or over the amount of money he can spend during the primary.

What does it mean for John McCain? It's yet another issue where John McCain tries to legislate one way and do something completely different. In this case it has to do with campaign finance issues. As Brad Smith, the former Republican FEC commissioner noted, if McCain drops out of the system the FEC will subpoena McCain, and his staff during and their records to determine whether they violated the law. If they're found to be in violation of the law they can be fined up to $25,000 and they can be jailed for up to five years...

Not before he wins the nomination and sends Huckabee home for the duration, one hopes.

Damage Uncontrolled

How much damage will the Clintonista and the Oborg do before November?

It's a really good question. The thugs are already praising the Straight Talker for his creative use of funding Viagra and choice of hot lobbyists. Their lackey Ralph Nader just threw his hat in the ring for any of his weak-minded supporters that haven't become Bantha fodder yet.

Many of the Democratic Faithful are praising their own favorite flavor of Kool-Aid, and giving the Right ammunition for the fall.

Kucinich, Dodd, and Edwards are out. Clinton, the one who was supposed to be Party First, is out unless she torpedoes the chances of her Party in November. Get Real, and start to work together, people.

Or hang separately. It could happen here, you know.

"It's a nice little country you have here,"

the telcoms say, "...it would be a shame if something happened to it.

"Let us have our way or else."

After all, they have friends who might not be happy if we diss them.

Scandalous Yellow Journalism

The very idea of priapulid improprieties on the Viagra Express.

On the other hand, the case they presented for the Straight Talker taking big bucks from the telcoms for favors is pretty $traightforward.

Now who's the whore?

Consume Mass Quantities

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Future Shock

Glen Greenwald notes Dear Leader's position: "Give the Ba$e immunity or else".

...Republicans... are so eager for a Terrorist attack to happen that you can almost hear them drooling in anticipation over the political gain they imagine they'll be able to squeeze from it.

What happens if a crisis is precipitated as a propaganda push against an overwhelmingly popular democratic candidate?

Coup d'état by National Emergency by William H. White

... What is certain, should a coup d'état by national emergency take place, is it will be denied even as it unfolds, and this is likely to be followed by assurances it will be temporary, lasting "not one day more than it needs to", followed by complaints about disappointing levels of cooperation (never mentioning any acts of resistance) being responsible for prolonging the state of emergency, threats of severe punishment and asset seizure for those harboring fugitives wanted by the authorities, and finally appeals to turn in others if you want your own relatives released from detention or your property/assets returned.

To sustain a permanent state of national emergency, Bush will likely take every opportunity to claim it is temporary. One can imagine him insisting he did it to protect the nation and to restore order, even as he attacks the nation's most vital institutions, arrests law abiding citizens, and causes increasing chaos. And an even more disciplined corporate media will ignore these blatant deviations from reality, except to repeat them again and again...

I recommend you read it all.

But that's not socialism

Not when the Republicans do it.

...as losses from bad mortgages and mortgage-backed securities climb past $200 billion, talk among banking executives for an epic government rescue plan is suddenly coming into fashion.

A confidential proposal that Bank of America circulated to members of Congress this month provides a stunning glimpse of how quickly the industry has reversed its laissez-faire disdain for second-guessing by the government — now that it is in trouble.

The proposal warns that up to $739 billion in mortgages are at “moderate to high risk” of defaulting over the next five years and that millions of families could lose their homes.

To prevent that, Bank of America suggested creating a Federal Homeowner Preservation Corporation that would buy up billions of dollars in troubled mortgages at a deep discount, forgive debt above the current market value of the homes and use federal loan guarantees to refinance the borrowers at lower rates.

“We believe that any intervention by the federal government will be acceptable only if it is not perceived as a bailout of the bond market,” the financial institution noted...

"Bailout" might imply that in one fell swoop Bank of America takes home more money than has been spent on all the welfare queens for many, many years.

Unfortunately it's not an economic fix either.

A real economic fix would involve stringently regulating the Ba$e, the banks, the hedge funds, the bond market, and the stock market.

A real economic fix would create enough government jobs to completely take the wind out of the recession and fix the crumbling infrastructure of this country.

A real economic fix would involve shutting down expeditionary wars that are black holes in the Treasury and eat uncountable human lives to profit only the Ba$e.

A real economic fix would generate science and engineering funds to work out economically feasible alternatives to unsustainable fossil fuels that only serve as an exponentially increasing drag force on the economy and cash flow into the coffers of the Ba$e.

But any solution that leaves the predators to run loose to blow another bubble spinning Ponzi schemes to entrap the rest of society is just what the Ba$e is looking for.

If the corporate thugs pull this one off, look for a Republican appointed government agency to administer it that makes the Internal Revenue Service pale by comparison.

Look for draconian penalties that rank as Federal crimes, and debtor's prisons to spring up everywhere.

Run by the private sector, of course.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Time-tested Bu$ine$$ Model

Xenophon makes note of a Dallas stand-down of Obama's Secret Service. And on the same day, in the motorcade of Hillary Clinton, an officer dies. Texas is one weird place.

As I've said before, to do the dirty deed, the Company doesn't need to carry out its' hits. It just needs to stand aside at the right time. Obama reminds one of Kennedy in more ways than one, and many have noted the kind of shock an incident might produce. Of course, any kind of event could excite Darth Cheney into declaring martial law.

But something in the comments to that post I have to address:

...we didn’t, I don’t think, have huge corporations whose business model is waiting for (or creating) huge shocks and then profiting from them.

How about Ford?


Or Dow Chemical/ Monsanto?

Or General Dynamics?

Or Raymond International, Morrison-Knudsen, Brown & Root, and J.A. Jones Construction, better known these days as Halliburton?

Alas, this has been going on a long time. And again, alas, this is exactly the kind of shock the Company loves to exploit. Handled with cold-blooding media exploitation, this has the potential of setting back race relations 20 years. Given an Iranian Oswald, it could be effective in setting off a war all the NeoCons have the hots for.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lucrative Business as Usual

But some people can't even handle their own slush funds.

[tip of the tinfoil to bluegal]

McCain has some problems. He can't- or won't- remember who owns him. Not to mention his other lienholders. Or his older lienholders.

Then there's the other problem...

The one that smells like an attempted Huckabee style Swiftboat smear.

A dedicated pagan like me could care less what two consenting grownups do to give each other grins.

Unless, of course, there's a real crime involved, like illegal breaks for the telcom industry.

Not that anyone in Washington ever does anything like that.

Baby, you ain't seen nothin' yet...

Glen Greenwald:

...Up until now, Obama has received relatively sympathetic treatment from the two-headed right-wing/media monster because he's been the anti-Hillary, and hatred for her resulted in affection (or at least restraint) towards him. Once he's no longer the anti-Hillary, but instead becomes the only thing standing between John McCain/GOP power and the White House, he's going to be the target of all of that bile and much, much more. As the Right begins to believe that he very well might be the enemy this Fall, and they thus pressure the media to begin its attacks, this week one got a small glimpse -- a tiny fraction -- of what is to come. So the question can't be whether the Right and the media will behave differently. They can't and won't.

The real question is whether Obama, as he did this week, will be able to render these attacks impotent, even cause them to backfire, because they and their propagators will appear to be so ugly and small and irrelevant in light of the type of candidate he is, the rhetoric he produces, the vision to which he aspires. I have no idea whether Obama's transcendent charisma or the historically demonstrated efficacy of low-life right-wing attacks will be more potent -- I think it's a much more difficult challenge than many Obama supporters (by virtue of understandable desire, rather than objective assessment) have convinced themselves it will be -- but there probably aren't very many priorities more important than cleansing our political process of this type of dirt and petty distraction...

Unity isn't possible with those who would rule instead of govern unless you're slaving for them.

This is the principal problem with Obama's philosphy. He wants to leave all the issues of the 20th Century behind us, when a big chunk of America won't abandon the issues of the 19th. That doesn't even include the wealthiest and most powerful 0.1% of America, which has been successful in rolling the economy back to the Hoover era before the New Deal.

But then, Obama's campaign, like Hillary's, is designed to fail. That's why he was allowed to get where he is today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The only things you can be sure of

...aside from taxes for those of us not part of the Ba$e and kangaroo kourt death sentences for the 9/11 scapegoats?

Arthur Silber nails it:

Any individual who rises to the national political level is, of necessity and by definition, committed to the authoritarian-corporatist state. The current system will not allow anyone to be elected from either of the two major parties who is determined to dismantle even one part of that system.

But Silber falls right into the Naderite folly. If they're not clean, he won't vote for 'em. DINOcrat or Rethuglican, and he encourages you not to either.

Me, I happen to think if we let the Rethuglicans have their electoral way, there might be a few hundred million people that might die. The Apocalypse being what it is.

On the other hand, if the DINOcrats win, the Empire accepts limits. On the surface anyway. You know, like "No First Nukes". Like "Torture is a Bad thing". Like "let's make jobs". Like "let's feed the poor kids". Like that.

Yes, it's still the Carlyle Group running things. Yes, the war machine will still be cranking out technological terrors. Yes, we will still have shit to deal with.

But there's all the difference in the world, and likely there will still be a world we can make a difference in, with a Democrat in office. With a 72-year old McCain as a figurehead, it will be Endless War, the Homeland will become just another front, and Halliburton will get a chance to hire some more private security staff for some of that camp space after all.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Movement in motion

After a week of dealing with self-proclaimed muslim terrorist hackers (riiigghtt) who tried (unsuccessfully) to shut down Empire Burlesque, it turns out in a different infowar front Wikileaks has had to leave the country to go to Belgium. But it's still out there, baby.

Let's turn the old freek adage to a weird n-dimensional angle in the multiverse of cyberspace... You can't run or hide from the Man, but you can damn sure virally propagate your meme clone on a server somewhere.

Blogspot has its drawbacks. Like they're really cozy with the NSA. Ann Arbor, one of the Google hubs, is an old home not only to the geeky minds of Google, but to the DARPA effort that created the World Wide web, its D.o'D. cyberwar network, and the NSA spy machine that tells Dear Leader all he knows.

Since General Dynamics bought out Veridian, especially.

But seriously, you think it's only rooms in San Francisco? Hell, we have entire buildings on and off the University of Michigan campus for that sort of thing.

The Halliburton heavies haven't put us on ice (yet). No profit in it (yet). Somebody's got to run the hardware, after all.

Designed to Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory


...The seating of delegates at Democratic Party conventions has often been a source of conflict. In 1964, Fanny Lou Hamer led a sit-in on the convention floor. The Mississippi Freedom Democrats wanted nothing more than a few convention seats-seats to which they were entitled by open, fair elections in their home state. Walter Mondale, who was to become the architect of the current superdelgate system, refused to seat the elected delegates of color in 1964. Wait until 1968, Mondale insisted, as the representative of the Credentials Committee.

The non-violent mass movements of the ’60s, the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the rise of the feminist movement, the change in voting age, the anti-nuclear campaigns- all generated a groundswell of new voters in Democratic party politics. However, far from welcoming the newly enfranchised activists, party leaders were filled with fear-class and race fear. They never accepted the democratic reforms enacted in the 1970s, when youth and people of color participated for the first time in establishment politics.

The superdelegate system, as we know it, came from the backlash of the 1980s. In January 1982, supported by Mondale, the Hunt Commission and Democratic National Committee reversed grassroots reforms. They rewrote the rules, not to make elections open and fair, but to make sure that centrist (right-wing) candidates maintained hegemony over nominees and party affairs. It was out of fear of new uncontrollable voters that the Commission created a block of uncommitted delegates drawn from a primarily white, male establishment. Mondale, the same insider who prevented elected Mississipppians from taking their seats in 1964, played the pivotal role in creating hundreds of unelected delegates in 1984. Superdelegates comprised 14 percent of the convention in 1984, and eighty-five percent of the superdelegates picked Mondale. Not long after superdelegates picked “the sure winner,” Mondale was trounced in the presidential election. Nevertheless, the superdelgate number passed the 600 mark by 1988. The Jesse Jackson campaign, especially the massive victory over Dukkakis on Super Tuesday, electrified the party and the country. Jackson won 7 million primary votes in 1988, more than Mondale won as the nominee in 1984. Many party regulars were gripped with panic, and some superdelegates organized a stop-Jackson movement within the party. Jackson protested the role of superdelegates, but his challenge went unheeded. Party leaders continued to look for ways to blunt the growing power of grassroots movements. While they could not stop voters from voting, they could dilute the impact of the reform movements by manufacturing added voters as a countervailing force.

Mondale was quite open about the undemocratic aims of the superdelegate system. In a number of talks, he acknowledged that superdelegates were created with the explicit aim of preventing voter insurgencies. He espoused his anti-democratic sentiments in the New York Times, February 2, 1992, where he called for expansion of superdelgate numbers:

“The election is the business of the people. But the nomination is more properly the business of the parties….The problem lies in the reforms that were supposed to open the nominating process….Party leaders have lost the power to screen candidates and select a nominee. The solution is to reduce the influence of the primaries and boost the influence of the party leaders….The superdelgate category established within the Democratic Party after 1984 allows some opportunity for this, but should be strengthened...”

There's nothing like a Democrat in the driver's seat, and in this $election, there's nothing like a real Democrat in the driver's seat.

Gold Kryptonite, anyone?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

no reason to be alarmed by bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Just use your duct tape to close any available window or door seals. It might also help if you taped your kids' mouths shut so they didn't eat the cafeteria food.

Umm... we might need to redraw that figure.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse, the subject of an animal-abuse investigation, that provided meat to school lunch programs...

...Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing ''downer'' animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino County prosecutor Michael Ramos said...

Interesting, it appears they waterboard cattle to convince them to go to slaughter. Who knew?

...No charges have been filed against Westland, but an investigation by federal authorities continues.

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

''We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action,'' said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety.

Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages. The USDA said it will work with distributors to determine how much meat remains...

In other words, a lot of people- mostly kids in public schools- have already eaten it.

Umm... we're probably going to have to redraw this figure too.

But maybe not. After all, you trust your government to tell you if anything's amiss, like global warming or economic problems, right? Surely there's no reason to be alarmed by bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Just pass me the duct tape, and come over here, kids.

Star Wars A-Go-Go

Like the War on Terra, it doesn't matter who wins the Oval Office, it's just an issue of who's the heaviest Hut:

...John McCain strongly favors the missile defense system. Hillary Clinton doesn’t directly address the issue on her Web site. It was her husband’s administration that made the decision to move forward more aggressively with the underlying research.

Barack Obama opposes weapons in outer space, but, according to the Polish press, his chief foreign policy adviser, Anthony Lake, told Polish Americans in Cleveland last month that the shield project should not be abandoned in light of Iran’s nuclear ambitions...

Meanwhile, nobody believes Dear Leader's public rationale, and once again a corporate website gives the lowdown on all you (or anyone else) wanted to know about the top-seekrit Star Wars missiles.

But you go right on ahead with your technological terrors.

Chances are we might need it.

Caveat Voter

Dear Leader doesn't own those dogs, and he damned sure didn't train them, either.

The DINOcrat party is slipping back to it's same old used-to-be as the battle to determine whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint continues:

...Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.

City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.

In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.

The history of New York elections has been punctuated by episodes of confusion, incompetence and even occasional corruption. And election officials and lawyers for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton agree that it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by weary inspectors rushing on election night to transcribe columns of numbers that are delivered first to the police and then to the news media.

That said, in a presidential campaign in which every vote at the Democratic National Convention may count, a swing of even a couple of hundred votes in New York might help Mr. Obama gain a few additional delegates.

City election officials said they were convinced that there was nothing sinister to account for the inaccurate initial counts, and The Times’s review found a handful of election districts in the city where Mrs. Clinton received zero votes in the initial results.

“It looked like a lot of the numbers were wrong, probably the result of human error,” said Marcus Cederqvist, who was named executive director of the Board of Elections last month. He said such discrepancies between the unofficial and final count rarely affected the raw vote outcome because “they’re not usually that big.”

On primary night, Mrs. Clinton was leading with 57 percent to Mr. Obama’s 40 percent in New York State, which meant she stood to win 139 delegates to Mr. Obama’s 93, with 49 others known as superdelegates going to the national convention unaffiliated.

Jerome A. Koenig, a former chief of staff to the State Assembly’s election law committee and a lawyer for the Obama campaign, suggested that some of the discrepancy resulted from the design of the ballot.

Candidates were listed from left to right in an order selected by drawing lots. Mrs. Clinton was first, followed by Gov. Bill Richardson and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., who in most election districts received zero votes, and by John Edwards, who got relatively few. Mr. Obama was fifth, just before Representative Dennis J. Kucinich.

Mr. Koenig said he seriously doubted that anything underhanded was at work because local politicians care more about elections that matter specifically to them.

“They steal votes for elections like Assembly District leader, where people have a personal stake,” he said.

A number of political leaders also scoffed at the possibility that local politicians, even if they considered it vital that Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton prevail in the primary, were capable of even trying to hijack such a contest.

Still, for those inclined to consider conspiracy theories, the figures provided plenty of grist.

The 94th Election District in Harlem, for instance, sits within the Congressional district represented by Charles B. Rangel, an original supporter of Mrs. Clinton.

Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, a Clinton supporter who represents the same area, said he was confident that there was an innocent explanation for the original count giving Mr. Obama zero votes.

“I’m sure it’s a clerical error of some sort,” Mr. Wright said. “Being around elections for the last 25 years, no candidate receives zero votes.”

But Gordon J. Davis, a former New York City parks commissioner and an Obama poll watcher in the district, remained skeptical, even after being informed of the corrected count.

“First it was reported at 141 to 0, now it’s 261 to 136 in an Assembly district that went 12,000 to 8,000 for Barack,” Mr. Davis said on Friday.

“I was watching like a hawk, but how did I know the machine had a mind of its own?” he added. “And I speak as one who grew up on the South Side of Chicago where we delivered the margin of victory for John F. Kennedy at 4 in the morning.”

At the sprawling Riverside Park Community apartments at Broadway and 135th Street, Alician D. Barksdale said she had voted for Mr. Obama and her daughter had, too, by absentee ballot.

“Everyone around here voted for him,” she said...

It's the ghost of Richard Daley in the machine.

Now how's this process done? The New York Pravda provides a helpful graphic.

Ah, it's the police that carry the talley and enter it into the computers. I feel so much better now. Surely it was simple human error, the police always have the best interests at heart.

Especially in a police state.

Foghorn Leghorn need not worry

Matt Tiabbi: The Chicken Doves

...The story of how the Democrats finally betrayed the voters who handed them both houses of Congress a year ago is a depressing preview of what's to come if they win the White House. And if we don't pay attention to this sorry tale now, while there's still time to change our minds about whom to nominate, we might be stuck with this same bunch of spineless creeps for four more years. With no one but ourselves to blame...

You know the story. Read it all. Tip o' the tinfoil to chicago dyke.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Protecting the Homeland

But the taser didn't do it.

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - American Samoa's delegate to the U.S. Congress is calling for an investigation into the death of a baby at Honolulu International Airport.

Delegate Eni Faleomavaega has asked the Department of Homeland Security to begin an investigation into death of 14-day-old Michael Tony Futi last Friday.

The baby had been flown to Honolulu for emergency heart surgery. He died while detained inside a customs' room at the Honolulu airport with his mother and a nurse.

A lawyer for the family announced plans to sue the federal government over the baby's death.

Faleomavaega called for the probe in a letter issued to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Waiting for the Northwoods to Drop

Any real terrorists can easily be monitored using the existing FISA courts. No warrant has ever been refused. The secret monitoring is purely political in nature.

Of course, you can bet once the telcoms are immune your information will be secretly sold to the best bidder(s).

It's really likely there may be as Dear Leader admonishes an attack on America that dwarfs 9/11 if the telcoms don't get their way. But it will not be from terrorists unaffiliated with fourth branch of government, and you can bet somewhere someone will justify it as for "our" own good.

Trade Seekrits

What happens when you openly talk to people about what your Company's doing without giving royalties to your Company?

Why, you can get slapped with espionage charges if Uncle Sugar's involved.

The Americans being charged work for The Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Now, these aren't engineers actively involved in systems design. They aren't scientists working on weapons of mass destruction for the Pentagram Pentagon.

According to Wikipedia the DSCA:

...provides financial and technical assistance, transfer of defense matériel, training and services to allies, and promotes military-to-military contacts.

...(FMS) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) are two key programs included within Security Cooperation. IMET is conducted solely on a grant basis. FMS can be conducted using cash or FMS Financing (FMF).

You can surf around my site and find all kinds of links to industry and even open .mil sites that describe in detail all kinds of space and weapons ware that I would judge should be classified. Any citizen or for that matter international denizen on the world wide web can access them. So what gives with the sudden noise and smoke about Chinese spies in the Homeland?

They were salesmen who didn't grease the right palms with a commission fee.

The D.o'D. and its Company friends are in desperate need of a new Cold War, or even a limited hot one, to get the blood boiling, and a war with China means we get to scapegoat and stiff their economy really hard.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Strategery of Tension

Torture has always been legal whenever the Preznit does it. It's part of the strategery.

Uncle $cam:

...over the last twenty years or so and in particularly the last seven years, we are seeing the direct results of The Rise and Normalization of Paramilitary Units erasing the lines between civil and military procedures, wherein the dehumanizing has become a 'culture of cruelty ' that has permeated into every level of law enforcement. Where are the public servant has such a disregard and contempt for the people they serve that it has now become the norm.

Further, I believe it is scientific, part and parcel of a prototype blueprint of domestic strategia della tensione. Indeed, characteristic of what sociologist Erving Goffman, coined as the 'Total Institution'. The goal of the total institution is to develop a tension between the home world and the institutional world. The goal is to maintain complete submission to authority by all means necessary, be it constant personal humiliation, a constant devising of new forms of psychological harassment along with physical control, a pattern of deliberately-planned severly abusive treatment. Conditioning.

They are conditioning us.

Somewhere someone has given to go ahead to ratchet up the fear and intimidation...

But they'll likely slack off- until the $election is over anyway.

Besides, Detroit is probably better than Toledo for that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, the War of Terra gets to flex some of its Star Wars muscles. Perhaps you heard of the 2.5 ton spy satellite that Computer Sciences Corporation/ DynCorp/ NASA just launched a couple of years ago for the NSA/ CIA/ DIA/ good ol' boys owning Lockheed-Martin and Boeing? The one they "lost all contact with" almost immediately and is expected to fall to earth in a couple of weeks?

Well imagine that. What a chance to test Star Wars antiballistic missiles. They couldn't have planned it better if they tried.

What can go wrong? And if it does, what's to lose?

...Strangelove: It would not be difficult mein Fuhrer! Nuclear reactors could, heh... I'm sorry. Mr. President. Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plantlife. Animals could be bred and slaughtered. A quick survey would have to be made of all the available mine sites in the country. But I would guess... that ah, dwelling space for several hundred thousands of our people could easily be provided.

Muffley: Well I... I would hate to have to decide.. who stays up and.. who goes down.

Strangelove: Well, that would not be necessary Mr. President. It could easily be accomplished with a computer. And a computer could be set and programmed to accept factors from youth, health, sexual fertility, intelligence, and a cross section of necessary skills. Of course it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military men be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and tradition. Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years.

Muffley: But look here doctor, wouldn't this nucleus of survivors be so grief stricken and anguished that they'd, well, envy the dead and not want to go on living?

Strangelove: No sir... Also when... when they go down into the mine everyone would still be alive. There would be no shocking memories, and the prevailing emotion will be one of nostalgia for those left behind, combined with a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead!

Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

DeSadeski: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

Strangelove: Thank you, sir...

The Leaders have it all planned, you need not worry, it will all be done by computers.

Controlled Demolition


...Under ordinary circumstances, this would be a blowout year for Democrats. The nation is tired of the war, tired of eight years of the Bush administration and worried sick about the economy. And Democratic voters, energized by the prospect of change, have been turning out in tremendous numbers.

But the Democrats, to their credit, have placed a woman and an African-American at the head of the line for the party’s nomination. It’s a step that augurs well for the country, but at the same time it’s unlikely that either of them will have an easy time winning in November.

There comes a point in a campaign that lasts too long when there are diminishing returns all around.

The big question for Democrats is whether Senators Clinton and Obama, whose camps don’t like each other, can conduct themselves in the long slog ahead in a way that does not undermine the party’s ability to win in November.

It’s not yet clear that they can.

I've posted before on the Oborg, and how many vow to go their own way if their Dear Leader doesn't win the Triple Crown this summer.

But it's not just the Unibama that's saying stupid things.

And look at this map.

Last time I heard, Michigan and Florida weren't counting, just because they didn't vote when the DNC told them to.

Unless, of course, you-know-who wins.

Now to quote a comment I read today on the wonderful job our Democratic-controlled $enate did with FISA:

...secret commitees, secret paramilitary units, secret data collection and storage facilities, secret surveillance programs, secret military projects….

“secret” shit has a way to 1) not really staying secret for very long b) developing budgets that “must” grow every year at the expense of literally everything else and iii) are really suseptible to corruption, infiltration, and shit like the bay of pigs. they almost never “make us safe/r.” they often make us less so...

We've also got a secret Democratic candidate $election process, too. Here's a great way to suck all the air out of the last gasp of the Democratic process, which this election may be. Choose a very limited pool of candidates, none of which will seriously address the political, economic, and military issues we're facing. Allow media time only to the ones who have a track record, over the last 4 years anyway, of voting only how their $ponsors dictate.

Make sure both of them want the job the way a 17 year old boy wants to get laid.

Why, by the end of their primary season, they could do everything a Rover might want to shoot their own party in the foot, and guarantee a solid Rethuglican theft of $election 2008.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Double Fault

Ron Klain notices:

The close and impassioned battle for the Democratic nomination is about many things — an insider versus an outsider, the boomer generation versus the millennial generation, a choice between two different “firsts” — but oddly enough, there is one thing that it is NOT about: policy.

I say “oddly” because Democrats love to fight about policy. Indeed, observers have bemoaned that Democrats are obsessed with policy wonkery: perhaps we bore voters to tears with our 10-point plans to our electoral disadvantage. As a policy wonk myself, I’ve never really bought this critique. But the basic point — that Democratic politics are usually very issue-oriented — seems right to me.

Except in this primary season. Yes, there has been some effort by Hillary Clinton and her supporters to sharpen the distinction with Barack Obama over the differences in the two candidates’ health care plans. And certainly many supporters of Senator Obama have pointed to his opposition to the Iraq war in 2002 as a key difference with Senator Clinton. But the first of these differences has gotten very little attention of late, and the latter is more often cited as a difference in judgment rather than a current policy difference: both candidates have similar positions about what to do in Iraq now.

Beyond a lack of specific policy differences, it’s almost impossible to draw a high-level ideological distinction between Senators Clinton and Obama: neither is running as an ideological alternative to the other, and if one looks at their respective voters, a clear left- right fault line between their supporters does not emerge...

There's nothing like a real progressive candidate, and as far as I can tell, neither of these two is anything like a real progressive candidate.

But both win out over the NeoCon stormtrooper or the Prophet of Jeebus the Barbarian.

If Ma Bell Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

So much for all the Dodd promises. Ma Bell gets to do what she wants. Even if you don't listen to your betters, you can be sure they're listening to you.

cd and Glenn Greenwald cover this in more detail.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All biofuels are not created equal

This, for example, is a bad idea for a biofuel.

Cutting down rainforests for palm oil plantations for renewable biofuels is [pardon] nuts.

This is inefficient and really stupid. You don't rip out your lungs when you need a breath of fresh air.

This on the other hand is a good idea that could be made to work, and one I suggested here about 3 years ago. Microorganisms can use garbage and the energy of the sun to make hydrocarbons and hydrogen. Craig Venter is smart enough and likely to do this if he sets his mind to it.

The only problem is he might decide to sell the whole process to the very people who will sit on it until they wring every last drop of oil out of the earth if they offer him enough up front.

Or make him an offer he can't refuse.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deep Politics and the World Headquarters of Halliburton

Something weird is going on in Dubai.

Ain't no one here but us Maverick$!

The New York Pravda informs us there is no more political Establishment in either party.

Barack Obama? Not an establishment type! Forget that after his speech in 2002 and initial vote against the War, he took Joe Lieberman as a mentor and voted pretty much as Harry Reid told him!

Hillary Clinton? Not an establishment type! Look at her credentials!

John McCain? Mr. Straight talking Maverick! Just ask him! He's Joe Lieberman's kind of guy. And John Bolton's and William Kristol's, too.

Mike Huckabee? Totally New Wave. Just what was so Dark about the Dark Ages! Never burned a book he didn't like burning!

Yes, it's nice to know once again we can drink the Kool-Aid and forget all about that reality-based stuff. There's absolutely no Establishment interests riding in this $election at all. It's why the results of the Democratic primary in Michigan don't count.

Endless Warmongering Isn't Good for the Market

Greenwald has it right today:

Conventional media wisdom is already solidifying that John McCain's greatest political asset is national security. This is a completely bizarre proposition given that there is no politician who has been more mindlessly supportive than McCain of endless war in Iraq, one of America's most unpopular wars in its history. Only in Media World could undying support for an extremely unpopular war be considered a political asset.

Beyond Iraq, McCain is as pure a warmonger as it gets in the American political mainstream. He is supported by the most extreme neoconservative ideologues, such as Bill Kristol, John Bolton and Joe Lieberman, precisely because they perceive, correctly, that he would be the candidate most likely to enable their paramount dreams of endless Middle East war. The virtual certainty that McCain will ensure the endless occupation of Iraq and, worse, will inevitably provoke more American wars, ought to be considered his greatest political liability, not his greatest asset.

Democrats should be eager -- not afraid -- to have the 2008 election turn on a referendum on whether Americans want to continue paying for the indefinite occupation of Iraq, and more so, whether we will start new Americans wars -- i.e., whether they want to have the same neoconservative extremists who got us into Iraq continue to dominate America's foreign policy, as they will under President McCain. McCain's supposed great strong suit is actually his greatest vulnerability, if Democrats are willing to make that case.

But what has characterized establishment Democrats for the last eight years, at least, is an unwillingness to challenge Republicans on national security. Ever since the 2002 AUMF vote, their "strategy" has been to cede national security to the Republicans by trying defensively to insist that there are few differences between the parties ("we're strong, too") -- all in the hope of shifting the political debate to issues they perceive are politically more advantageous, such as domestic and economic issues. That's why there has been so little contrast between the two parties on foreign policy and national security issues -- because most Democrats believe that the wisest course of action is to become replicas of Republicans on national security policy as a means of eliminating those issues from consideration. The "strategy" has been as ineffective as it has been craven.

Contrary to the media's narrative, John McCain is a huge, juicy target for making the case that Republican warmongering has been, and will continue to be, a complete disaster for the U.S. The central question, though, is whether the Democratic candidate will cede this ground by attempting to copy McCain and argue that they are "tough," too -- or whether they will draw a real contrast by arguing that McCain's insatiable craving for war is anything but "tough."

Top Clinton aide Terry McAuliffe was on MSNBC this week with Chris Matthews and was asked directly whether McCain was too much of a "hawk" on national security -- meaning: is McCain a dangerous warmonger? McAuliffe's answer is a textbook illustration of exactly the Democratic cowardice that has been so destructive both to the country and their own political interests over the last eight years (video is here)...

...If the Democrats want a blueprint for a sure losing strategy, they need look no further than McAuliffe's answer. He was asked expressly whether McCain is too much of a hawk -- whether his foreign policy views are dangerously war-loving -- and although he gave a long, rambling answer, McAuliffe never once dared to criticize McCain on national security -- not one word of criticism. Instead, he ignored the issue, immediately switched the topic to the economy, accepted the premise that McCain was "tough" and formidable on foreign policy, and then argued that Hillary was just as "tough" and would not, therefore, be vulnerable to attack. In other words: Hillary and McCain are the same on national security -- equally "tough" -- therefore that can be ignored and the focus should be on domestic issues.

That is the same failed strategy that Democrats have been pursuing with complete futility for the last eight years. In 2002, they became convinced by their vapid, craven "strategists" that if they voted for the war in Iraq, it would take national security off the table and enable the midterm elections to be decided by domestic issues. In 2004, they decided that they would reject a candidate who provided too much of a contrast on national security (Howard Dean) in favor of one who, having supported the war and with a record of combat, would neutralize national security as an election issue.

And ever since, they have continuously run away from any opportunity to create a clear contrast with the GOP on national security issues, most notably refusing to stop the war in Iraq, failing to impede radical measures such as the Military Commissions Act, and -- as the lead Editorial in the NYT this morning angrily points out -- they are now not only capitulating to, but actually leading (in the form of their Intelligence Committee Chair, Jay Rockefeller), the Bush/Cheney crusade to legalize warrantless eavesdropping and institutionalize lawlessness through telecom amnesty...

It's because they're bankrolled by the Soros faction of the Carlyle Group. But when it's a choice between NeoLiberalism and Apocalypse Now, what else can a voter do? Of course the game is rigged, but at least it's not Russian Roulette.

Digby and Julia point out that McCain's so-called moral position on torture is pretty much smoke and mirrors, too.

Lies, Damn Lies, and DoE Funded Studies

It was all over the matrix of cyberspace and the main$tream last week, too:

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

Pravda, doubtless, straight from the Nature Conservancy.

Well look who's pleased as punch about that.

And look who bankrolls the Nature Conservancy.

The idea that all biofuels depend on slash-and-burn of the Amazon rainforest seems a bit slanted. But it's doubtless Fair and Balanced.

Manga Action Jeebus

It was inevitable.

Not content with Jeebus the Barbarian, we have Jeebus the "samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette".

... In a blurb for the Manga Bible, which is published by Doubleday, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is quoted as saying, “It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.”

No doubt. In the Manga Bible, whose heroes look and sound like skateboarders in Bedouin gear, Noah gets tripped up counting the animals in the Ark: “That’s 11,344 animals? Arggh! I’ve lost count again. I’m going to have to start from scratch!”

Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader. The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it...

And thus not the Beautitudes, of course. The TheoCons consider all that mercy, peace, and kindness stuff off message, anyway.

How about Jeebus as the Man with No Name .

We already have Jeebus for A Few Dollars More .

Next up: Jeebus waswill be a Klingon.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

On the desirability of cynicism.

I'm cynical and proud of it.

People who aren’t cynical, especially the ones that are intentionally, studiously credulous, tend to be gullible.

In other words, stupid.

Cynicism makes for good science.

Hillary’s worse than the Prime Unit of the Oborg, and no, I have not been assimilated. There's this little Constitutional amendment limiting the term of a President to 8 years. Just think about what could happen if the Republicans stole another 8 years for Laura Bush, and then Babs the Elder and Younger, and then Jenna.

But let’s not go there. People, the constant bickering should come to a close soon. Say, this summer sometime.

It would be good for us to subdue our acrimony towards Democrats.

Democrats will be facing McCain this fall. Likely Huckabee will be part of his machine, if not the Vice President. Yes, the two men most likely to pour napalm on the fire in the Middle East, and South America too. And their neocon and theocon supporters.

One of them might toss red, white, and blue nukes. The other definitely wants to bring back the Dark Ages, rewrite the Constitution, and establish Dominionist sharia law. His nukes will doubtless have little prayers engraved on them. Both of them will likely attempt to steal this $election, because, you know, the ends justify the means.

Hillary or Obama. Certs is a candy mint or a breath mint. I’ll vote for either, just to get the Soros faction of the Carlyle Group back into the driver’s seat. Not that there’s anything good about that. It’s just not as bad as total destruction.

Let’s consider spending more bandwidth bringing down the people who will do the most damage to the Constitution, the world, and everything that lives in it.

Remember that over 80% of Obama supporters say they would support a Clinton ticket and vice-versa. Possibly the best way to reach the other 20% is to make them realize that things, bad as they are today, will get much worse with another Republican in the White House.

Especially these two.

If there isn’t an overwhelming majority voting Democratic this fall, and the Republicans steal it again, the changes in a McCain-Huckabee administration will make everyone long for the relatively sane days of Cheneyburton oligarchy.

Just sayin’.

Outsource Takeover

Digby points out that the debate on torture largely exists because the act is farmed out to private corporations that do the dirty deed.

Another reason for going the private route for torture and secret prisons is that's a way to make sure a percentage of the Homeland Security bucks come back home to the politicians that wrangled them in the first place.

The endless war on Terra being the entrepreneurial enterprise it is, no palm along the way is left empty.

Another thing: ever since the second world war intelligence agencies have been using private corporations as fronts, usually staffed with the so-called retired or ex-agents.

This is not a recent occurrence. What started happening with time is that these corporations got so big and pervasive they actually managed to take over both the government and private sector. Believe it, electing a Democrat won't change that. It'll only change the figurehead policies of the people in the spotlight of the camera.

Assuming, of course there is a transfer of titular power. Digby points to this observation by Charles Pierce at Media Matters:

...For the past couple of weeks, they've just gotten blatant about it. The administration of George W. Bush is bound by no law, bound by no precedent, bound not even by the forms of democratic self-government, let alone its actual substance, which is being used as a throw-rug in John Yoo's den these days. They will torture and the Congress can do nothing. Their powers to spy, to search, and to seize are unlimited and Congress is not remotely entitled to know even what those powers are. They can imprison without trial. They can force corporations -- and, indeed, individuals within the government -- to violate the law. They are not subject to treaties. They are not subject to oversight, nor even subpoenas. Read this swill from yesterday. Through his actions, and from the mouths of his minions, George Bush is now claiming fully the powers of a tyrant, by any reasonable definition of the term...

The bad thing about this is that it's not just Dear Leader. It is thousands- maybe hundreds of thousands and indirectly millions- of people that profit from the tyranny. It now permeates to everyone who carries a gun and supports the police state of the war on Terra.