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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Audacity of Diversion

What to make over all the saber rattling at Iran over the last week? Doubtless the Iranian people are suffering under their theocrats and their autocrats who steal elections from other theocrats. Yet doubtless the international trade sanctions and the Special Ops trying to infiltrate their borders from both sides cause some suffering too.

The whole timing of all the terrorist cells that got set up stung uncovered by the FBI last week was interesting too. Two of them were planned and baited by the Feds for foolish muslim kids with chips on their shoulders. The other was an arrest of an alledged sleeper who had visited Pakistan but somehow had no incriminating evidence of actually trying to build the bombs they accused him of having. Except the word of the Feds, of course.

Chris Floyd had a really good say about this:

...Iran was building a new nuclear enrichment facility, as it is allowed to do by international treaty. The United States and several other Western countries knew about the facility for years. The facility, which is still months away from completion, is not designed to enrich uranium to weapons grade. Iran is not required to inform the IAEA about any new enrichment plant until six months before the plant goes into operation. There is some quibbling about a codicil that was meant to require Iran to give extra early notice; but this was never ratified by the Iranian legislature, so Iran is in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty which it signed and ratified years ago. (As opposed to such already nuclear armed American allies as India and Israel.) The facility was not secret, it can't build bombs, it is not even finished, and it has no nuclear material in it.

Er, that's it. But upon this paper-thin foundation, a vast fortress of sinister bullshit has been erected by the "progressive" American president and his laughable lapdogs in London and Paris. The long-known presence of a unfinished, non-weaponized, treaty-compliant building is now being presented to the world as a burning reason to impose harsh new sanctions on Iran -- harsh to the point of outright acts of war, such as an embargo on shipments of gasoline and other fuel products to Iran. And of course, our coddled, padded, well-protected War Party hacks have seized upon this non-event to bay even louder for oceans of Persian blood to slake their thirsts -- or bolster their faltering manhoods, or do whatever it is that the thought of foreigners being slaughtered in great numbers far, far away does for pathetic little wretches like Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and the Whole Sick Crew...

...note what is likely to be a side issue, but an interesting one nonetheless -- the timing of these "revelations."

As we all know, Barack Obama and his Europuppies meant to make a big show of sword-waggling at the opening of the oh-so-momentous G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Iran beat them to the punch by formally notifying the IAEA of the new facility before the summit, but in any case, the "Iran crisis" served its purpose for the Masters of the West: it covered up the fact that they actually had nothing whatsoever to say about the ostensible theme of the summit -- solving the global economic collapse. If the "Iran crisis" had not sucked up all the media oxygen, these "leaders" might have had to explain why they have given trillions of public dollars to the perpetrators of the economic collapse, while letting millions upon millions of their citizens slide into jobless, homeless penury. They would have had to explain why they are taking nothing but the most ineffective, cosmetic measures to rein in the hyper-greed of the oligarchs. And they would have to admit that their only plan for addressing the crisis in the future is to do more of the same: giving the elite even more public money to use as they please.

But all the economic questions were blown away by the ever-sexy talk of war. And of course, all the hoo-rah about a new war also distracted from the White House dithering over the old, failing war in Afghanistan. It's the oldest con trick in the book: distracting the sucker while you pick his pocket.

So hold on to your wallets, rubes.

Stanley A. McChrystal has the ear of the One. And Stanley's backers own Barry's loans.

Apologist to the Dead

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is to all appearances a real Democrat in a Congress full of DINOcrats:

...Yesterday, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said the Republican health care plan is “don’t get sick,” and if you do get sick, “die quickly.” After offering those facetious and sadly accurate remarks, Grayson came under criticism from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who demanded that Grayson apologize on the House floor. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Grayson said, “Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek. I’m surprised I have to explain that, but that’s the way it goes these days.” He added that he’s “not taking any of it back” and will “stand by what I said.” When asked if he would apologize, Grayson offered this response:

“I would like to apologize,” he said. “I would like to apologize to the dead.”

Citing a statistic that 44,789 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance, Grayson said, “That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans who died on 9/11. …It happens every year.”

Grayson added in another apparent dig at the GOP, “We should care about people even after they are born.”

Grayson apologized one last time.

“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner,” he said.

Just make sure you have a public option or even a single payer plan for everyone and not a private insurance mandate, Mr. Grayson.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Future Combat No More

The Company has decided to bring its high tech toys home, because using them in combat might get someone accused of a war crime.

Better to use them on Amerikans:

...No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of “crowd control munitions,” including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week’s G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying “PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD”), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreacting…and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie you didn’t want to be in.

As intimidating as this massive show of armed force and technology was, the good burghers of Pittsburgh and their fellow citizens in the Land of the Brave and Home of the Free ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Tear gas and pepper spray are nothing to sniff at and, indeed, have proven fatal a surprising number of times, but they have now become the old standbys compared to the list below that’s already at or coming soon to a police station or National Guard headquarters near you. Proving that “what goes around, comes around,” some of the new Property Protection Devices were developed by a network of federally-funded, university-based research institutes like one in Pittsburgh itself, Penn State’s Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies.

· Raytheon Corp.'s Active Denial System, designed for crowd control in combat zones, uses an energy beam to induce an intolerable heating sensation, like a hot iron placed on the skin. It is effective beyond the range of small arms, in excess of 400 meters. Company officials have been advised they could expand the market by selling a smaller, tripod-mounted version for police forces.

· M5 Modular Crowd Control Munition, with a range of 30 meters "is similar in operation to a claymore mine, but it delivers...a strong, nonpenetrating blow to the body with multiple sub-munitions (600 rubber balls)."

· Long Range Acoustic Device or "The Scream," is a powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that can emit sound "50 times greater than the human threshold for pain" at close range, causing permanent hearing damage. The L.A. Times wrote U.S. Marines in Iraq used it in 2004. It can deliver recorded warnings in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing tone..."[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on their knees." CBS News reported in 2005 that the Israeli Army first used the device in the field to break up a protest against Israel's separation wall. "Protesters covered their ears and grabbed their heads, overcome by dizziness and nausea, after the vehicle-mounted device began sending out bursts of audible, but not loud, sound at intervals of about 10 seconds...A military official said the device emits a special frequency that targets the inner ear."

· In "Non-lethal Technologies: An Overview," Lewer and Davison describe a lengthy catalog of new weaponry including the "Directed Stick Radiator," a hand-held system based on the same technology as The Scream. "It fires high intensity ‘sonic bullets' or pulses of sound between 125-150db for a second or two. Such a weapon could, when fully developed, have the capacity to knock people off their feet."

· The Penn State facility is testing a "Distributed Sound and Light Array Debilitator" a.k.a. the "puke ray." The colors and rhythm of light are absorbed by the retina and disorient the brain, blinding the victim for several seconds. In conjunction with disturbing sounds it can make the person stumble or feel nauseated. Foreign Policy in Focus reports that the Department of Homeland Security, with $1 million invested for testing the device, hopes to see it "in the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents and National Guardsmen" by 2010.

· Spider silk is cited in the University of Bradford’s Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, Report #4 (pg. 20) as an up-and-comer. “A research collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center is looking into the use of spider silk as a non-lethal ‘entanglement’ material for disabling people. They have developed a method for producing recombinant spider silk protein using E. coli and are trying to develop methods to produce large quantities of these fibres.”

· New Scientist reports that the (I'm not making this up) Inertial Capacitive Incapacitator (ICI), developed by the Physical Optics Corporation of Torrance, California, uses a thin-film storage device charged during manufacture that only discharges when it strikes the target. It can be incorporated into a ring-shaped aerofoil and fired from a standard grenade launcher at low velocity, while still maintaining a flat trajectory for maximum accuracy.

· Aiming beyond Tasers, the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, (FY 2009 budget: $1B) the domestic equivalent of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), plans to develop wireless weapons effective over greater distances, such as in an auditorium or sports stadium, or on a city street. One such device, the Piezer, uses piezoelectric crystals that produce voltage when they are compressed. A 12-gauge shotgun fires the crystals, stunning the target with an electric shock on impact. Lynntech of College Station, Texas, is developing a projectile Taser that can be fired from a shotgun or 40-mm grenade launcher to increase greatly the weapon's current range of seven meters.

· "Off the Rocker and On the Floor: Continued Development of Biochemical Incapacitating Weapons," a report by the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre revealed that in 1992, the National Institute of Justice contracted with Lawrence Livermore National Lab to review clinical anesthetics for use by special ops military forces and police. LLNL concluded the best option was an opioid, like fentanyl, effective at very low doses compared to morphine. Combined with a patch soaked in DMSO (dimethylsufoxide, a solvent) and fired from an air rifle, fentanyl could be delivered to the skin even through light clothing. Another recommended application for the drug was mixed with fine powder and dispersed as smoke.

· After upgrades, the infamous "Puff the Magic Dragon" gunship from the Vietnam War is now the AC-130. "Non-Lethal Weaponry: Applications to AC-130 Gunships," observes that "With the increasing involvement of US military in operations other than war..." the AC-130 "would provide commanders a full range of non-lethal weaponry from an airborne platform which was not previously available to them." The paper concludes in part that "As the use of non-lethal weapons increases and it becomes valid and acceptable, more options will become available."

· Prozac and Zoloft are two of over 100 pharmaceuticals identified by the Penn State College of Medicine and the university's Applied Research Lab for further study as "non-lethal calmatives." These Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), noted the Penn State study, "...are found to be highly effective for numerous behavioral disturbances encountered in situations where a deployment of a non-lethal technique must be considered. This class of pharmaceutical agents also continues to be under intense development by the pharmaceutical industry...New compounds under development (WO 09500194) are being designed with a faster onset of action. Drug development is continuing at a rapid rate in this area due to the large market for the treatment of depression (15 million individuals in North America)...It is likely that an SSRI agent can be identified in the near future that will feature a rapid rate of onset..."

Please read the original for its links.

Don't be too surprised if there are some anomalous responses to that last one, Company boys.

But maybe that's planned, too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

When one looks long into the void

...you might find it looking right back.

Frank Rich:

...Analogies between Vietnam and Afghanistan are the rage these days. Some are wrong, inexact or speculative. We don’t know whether Afghanistan would be a quagmire, let alone that it could remotely bulk up to the war in Vietnam, which, at its peak, involved 535,000 American troops. But what happened after L.B.J. Americanized the war in 1965 is Vietnam’s apocalyptic climax. What’s most relevant to our moment is the war’s and Goldstein’s first chapter, set in 1961. That’s where we see the hawkish young President Kennedy wrestling with Vietnam during his first months in office.

The remarkable parallels to 2009 became clear last week, when the Obama administration’s internal conflicts about Afghanistan spilled onto the front page. On Monday The Washington Post published Bob Woodward’s account of a confidential assessment by the top United States and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, warning that there could be “mission failure” if more troops aren’t added in the next 12 months. In Wednesday’s Times White House officials implicitly pushed back against the leak of McChrystal’s report by saying that the president is “exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan.”

As Goldstein said to me last week, it’s “eerie” how closely even these political maneuvers track those of a half-century ago, when J.F.K. was weighing whether to send combat troops to Vietnam. Military leaders lobbied for their new mission by planting leaks in the press. Kennedy fired back by authorizing his own leaks, which, like Obama’s, indicated his reservations about whether American combat forces could turn a counterinsurgency strategy into a winnable war.

Within Kennedy’s administration, most supported the Joint Chiefs’ repeated call for combat troops, including the secretaries of defense (McNamara) and state (Dean Rusk) and Gen. Maxwell Taylor, the president’s special military adviser. The highest-ranking dissenter was George Ball, the undersecretary of state. Mindful of the French folly in Vietnam, he predicted that “within five years we’ll have 300,000 men in the paddies and jungles and never find them again.” In the current administration’s internal Afghanistan debate, Goldstein observes, Joe Biden uncannily echoes Ball’s dissenting role.

Though Kennedy was outnumbered in his own White House — and though he had once called Vietnam “the cornerstone of the free world in Southeast Asia” — he ultimately refused to authorize combat troops. He instead limited America’s military role to advisory missions. That policy, set in November 1961, would only be reversed, to tragic ends, after his death. As Bundy wrote in a memo that year, the new president had learned the hard way, from the Bay of Pigs disaster in April, that he “must second-guess even military plans.” Or, as Goldstein crystallizes the overall lesson of J.F.K.’s lonely call on Vietnam strategy: “Counselors advise but presidents decide.”

Obama finds himself at that same lonely decision point now. Though he came to the presidency declaring Afghanistan a “war of necessity,” circumstances have since changed. While the Taliban thrives there, Al Qaeda’s ground zero is next-door in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Last month’s blatantly corrupt, and arguably stolen, Afghanistan election ended any pretense that Hamid Karzai is a credible counter to the Taliban or a legitimate partner for America in a counterinsurgency project of enormous risk and cost. Indeed, Karzai, whose brother is a reputed narcotics trafficker, is a double for Ngo Dinh Diem, the corrupt South Vietnamese president whose brother also presided over a vast, government-sanctioned criminal enterprise in the early 1960s. And unlike Kennedy, whose C.I.A. helped take out the Diem brothers, Obama doesn’t have a coup in his toolbox.

Goldstein points out there are other indisputable then-and-now analogies as well. Much as Vietnam could not be secured over the centuries by China, France, Japan or the United States, so Afghanistan has been a notorious graveyard for the ambitions of Alexander the Great, the British and the Soviets. “Some states in world politics are simply not susceptible to intervention by the great powers,” Goldstein told me. He also notes that the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Vietnam share the same geographical advantage. As the porous border of neighboring North Vietnam provided sanctuary and facilitated support to our enemy then, so Pakistan serves our enemy today.

Most worrisome, in Goldstein’s view, is the notion that a recycling of America’s failed “clear and hold” strategy in Vietnam could work in Afghanistan. How can American forces protect the population, let alone help build a functioning nation, in a tribal narco-state consisting of some 40,000 mostly rural villages over an area larger than California and New York combined?

Even if we routed the Taliban in another decade or two, after countless casualties and billions of dollars, how would that stop Al Qaeda from coalescing in Somalia or some other criminal host state? How would a Taliban-free Afghanistan stop a jihadist trained in Pakistan’s Qaeda camps from mounting a terrorist plot in Denver and Queens...?

It's not supposed to. Without such plots- often planned and assembled for unwitting dupes to incriminate themselves- the Company rapidly looses all justification for its police state.

One sincerely hopes these analogies with Kennedy soon stop. One suspects they will as it becomes more apparent the One in the hands of McChrystal (i.e., the right hand of Petraeus Caesar) is more like LBJ in the hands of a Westmoreland with better media saavy.

"Zombies with iPhones"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea Partiers Advise G20 Protesters
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Kevin Flaherty gets it:

...Sign waving is not resistance. Sign waving is part of the problem in the same way that voting is part of the problem. How’s that Change working out for the Obama supporters? (Some of those bozos are already talking about how they’re going to get it right in 2012…)

In the few video clips of the G20 protests that I watched, I saw a bunch of zombies with iPhones, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as the Legion of Doom tested out its new sonic weapons and tear gas lobbing skills.

WTF is the matter with these people? Where does someone get the idea that the way to deal with Darth Vader is to wave a sign at him? Maybe a few, “Fuck the police” tweets will do the trick? Send out invites to join revolutionary sign waving groups on Facebook?!

While I vote regularly I am under no illusion it will resolve anything. While I blog regularly I don't see it resolving anything either.

...The U.S. is no longer a country. It’s a company town. If waving signs at the company’s goon squad just makes people look stupid, what does twitbooking about it amount to?

Here are some other ideas:

Eliminate your debt. Take your money off the table. Stop buying stuff that you don’t need. Live well on very little. Grow your own food. Participate in alternative and/or outlawed food economies for what you don’t produce yourself. Barter, or use cash. Support people who do good work. Finally, draw a line in the sand. Don’t tell anyone where that line is, or what the consequences will be if it’s crossed. Don’t wave a sign about it. Don’t twitbook about it. Let the fascists figure it out the hard way.

A nice trick if you can do it. You can say that effectively in the bush in New Zealand. Or until recently maybe in Montana. Nowhere else in the Empire can this apply. Other kinds of zombies go after you here.

Amerika is the diverse salad bowl of the zombie state.

One must be more resourceful to live in the belly of this beast.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"The information domain is a battlespace,"

-Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal

...As an initial step, McChrystal wants to change the goal of public relations efforts in Afghanistan from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence' " in themselves and their government. At the same time, he said, efforts should increase to "discredit and diminish insurgents and their extremist allies' capability to influence attitudes and behavior in Afghanistan."

One way to accomplish that, McChrystal wrote, is to target insurgent networks "to disrupt and degrade" their effectiveness. Another is to expose what he calls "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran" by the insurgents, including indiscriminate use of violence and terror and attacks on schools and development projects.

McChrystal's approach mirrors one that U.S. intelligence operatives are taking covertly, with some success, in the Middle East, where direct and indirect support is being given to Islamic leaders who speak out against terrorists. Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said last year that the goal is to show "that it is al-Qaeda, not the West, that is truly at war with Islam."

Try that once you have soldiers who can speak the languages.

In possibly one of the most heavily promoted "classified" documents to hit the main$tream in the Pentagon's Information Warfare campaign, McChrystal and the Surgettes push to extend the Long War as far into the future as anyone can see.

Tom Englehardt's right. It sure looks like Petraeus Caesar's behind the scene leak for the folks at home.

...It's one thing for the leaders of a country to say that war should be left to the generals when suddenly embroiled in conflict, quite another when that country is eternally in a state of war. In such a case, if you turn crucial war decisions over to the military, you functionally turn foreign policy over to them as well. All of this is made more complicated, because the cast of "civilians" theoretically pitted against the military right now includes Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general who is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Douglas Lute, a lieutenant general who is the president's special advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan (dubbed the "war czar" when he held the same position in the Bush administration), and James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, who is national security advisor, not to speak of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The question is: will an already heavily militarized foreign policy geared to endless global war be surrendered to the generals? Depending on what Obama does, the answer to that question may not be fully, or even largely, clarified this time around. He may quietly give way, or they may, or compromises may be reached behind the scenes. After all, careers and political futures are at stake.

But consider us warned. This is a question that is not likely to go away and that may determine what this country becomes.

We know what a MacArthur moment was; we may find out soon enough what a Petraeus moment is.

This explains why Biden and Gates are even hedging on this proposal. Biden's canny enough to realize this takes control of Amerikan foreign policy completely out of the hands of Washington. But Gates even sees the bigger problem for Poppy.

It takes Amerikan foreign policy completely out of the hands of the Company, and starts to put it- and the oil- under the velvet iron fist of Petraeus Caesar.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nothing to See Here

So says The New York Pravda concerning the G-20 summit:

Thousands Hold Peaceful March at G-20 Summit

Quite a difference from what was posted earlier on their website.

Peaceful marches, except for those that weren't- who get a dose of the new future combat toys the Company's been dying to use here. Of course, you'd have to live in Britain to know that, or read the fine print in Pravda.

Britain, or Pittsburgh [via].

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Financial Regulation Party

Party on banksters. The DINOcrats are on your side. Financial regulation, just like Bu$hie really wanted protect the environment:

WASHINGTON — In a step toward overhauling the nation’s financial regulation, a senior Democrat on Wednesday announced a plan that preserved the core of the White House’s proposal for a new consumer financial protection agency, while jettisoning a smaller though symbolically significant provision that had posed political obstacles...

What would this unreasonable "symbolic" provision be?

...An Obama proposal that Mr. Frank rejected would have required banks and other financial services companies to offer so-called plain vanilla products, like 30-year fixed mortgages and low-interest, low-fee credit cards.

That proposal set off criticism by Democrats and Republicans, some with close ties to the banking industry, that it was the first step toward having government bureaucrats approve and disapprove an array of products...

Yes indeed, the government has no business making banks act like banks instead of casinos and loan sharks. I can't imagine what got into the administration. It's good to see our Congresscritters are still hard at work keeping useful legistlation from being passed in a non-partisan way.

They Wrote Letters

August 17, 2009 [.pdf]

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

We write to you concerning your recent comments about the public option in health insurance reform.

We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is "not the essential element" of comprehensive reform. The opportunity to improve access to healthcare is a onetime opportunity. Americans deserve reform that is real-not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents. A robust public option is essential, if we are to ensure that all Americans can receive healthcare that is accessible, guaranteed and of high-quality.

To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.

We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their Position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option.


Raul Grijalva
Congressional Progressive Caucus

Lynn Woolsey
Congressional Progressive Caucus

Barbara Lee
Congressional Black Caucus

[via Jane Hamsher]

Talk is cheap. Let's see how it falls out.

Mission Accomplished

The Emmissaries of the Audacious One tell the G-20 the Recession is over.

Greg Palast:

...The 6-page letter from the White House, dated September 3, was sent to the 20 heads of state that will meet this Thursday in Pittsburgh. After some initial diplo-blather, our President's "sherpa" for the summit, Michael Froman, does a little victory dance, announcing that the recession has been defeated. "Global equity markets have risen 35 percent since the end of March," writes Froman. In other words, the stock market is up and all's well...

...And the French are furious. The White House letter to the G-20 leaders was a response to a confidential diplomatic missive from the chief of the European Union Fredrik Reinfeldt written a day earlier to "Monsieur le Président" Obama.

We have Reinfeldt's confidential note as well. In it, the EU president says, despite Bernanke's happy-talk, "la crise n'est pas terminée (the crisis is not over) and (continuing in translation) the labor market will continue to suffer the consequences of weak use of capacity and production in the coming months." This is diplomatic speak for, What the hell is Bernanke smoking?

May I remind you Monsieur le Président, that last month 216,000 Americans lost their jobs, bringing the total lost since your inauguration to about seven million? And rising.

The Wall Street Journal also has a copy of the White House letter, though they haven't released it. (I have: read it here, with the EU message and our translation.) The Journal spins the leak as the White House would want it: "Big Changes to Global Economic Policy" to produce "lasting growth." Obama takes charge! What's missing in the Journal report is that Obama's plan subtly but significantly throttles back European demands to tighten finance industry regulation and, most important, deflects the EU's concern about fighting unemployment.

Europe's leaders are scared witless that the Obama Administration will prematurely turn off the fiscal and monetary stimulus. Europe demands that the US continue pumping the economy under an internationally coordinated worldwide save-our-butts program.

As the EU's Reinfeldt's puts it in his plea to the White House, "It is essential that the Heads of State and Government, at this summit, continue to implement the economic policy measures they have adopted," and not act unilaterally. "Exit strategies [must] be implemented in a coordinated manner." Translating from the diplomatique: If you in the USA turn off fiscal and monetary stimulus now, on your own, Europe and the planet sinks, America with it.

Obama's ambassador says, Non! Instead, he writes that each nation should be allowed to "unwind" anti-recession efforts "at a pace appropriate to the circumstances of each economy." In other words, "Europe, you're on your own!" So much for Obama channeling FDR.

The technical policy conflict between the Obama and EU plans reflects a deep difference in the answer to a crucial question: Whose recession is it, anyway? To Obama and Bernanke, this is a bankers' recession and so, as "stresses in financial markets have abated significantly," to use the words of the White House epistle, then "Happy Days Are Here Again." But, if this recession is about workers the world over losing their jobs and life savings, the EU view, then it's still "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime."

If Bernanke and Obama were truly concerned about preserving jobs, they would have required banks loaded with taxpayer bail-out loot to lend these funds to consumers and business. China did so, ordering its banks to increase credit. And boy, did they, expanding credit by an eye-popping 30%, rocketing China's economy out of recession and into double-digit growth.

But the Obama Administration has gone the opposite way. The White House letter to the G-20 calls for slowly increasing bank reserves, and that can only cause a tight credit market to tighten further.

It's not that the White House completely ignores job losses. The US letter suggests, "The G-20 should commit to ... income support for the unemployed." You can imagine the Europeans, who already have generous unemployment benefits--most without time limits--turning purple over that one. America's stingy unemployment compensation extension under the Stimulus Plan is already beginning to expire with no live proposal to continue aid for the jobless victims of this recession...

But the cake! The little people- they can eat that, can't they? Anything else would be socialism.

But Medicare is Socialism

...and this, of course, is not:

...U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program...

That's Entrepreneurship!

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Cryptogon]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Now if they only understood what they were hearing...

The CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence "surge" that will make the agency's station there among the largest in CIA history, U.S. officials say...

The only problem is no one speaks the language- or the dozen different languages spoken in Afghanistan. And no red blooded McChrystal special op wants anyone who can around, either:

...United States Army doctrine describes interpreters as “vital,” which is fairly obvious given the bevy of languages spoken in Afghanistan: Dari, Pashto, Tajik, Uzbek and others. Yet the way the military uses translators is too often haphazard and sometimes dangerously negligent. Many units consider interpreters to be necessary evils, and even those who are Americans of Afghan descent are often scorned or mistreated for being too obviously “different.”

Mission Essential Personnel, the primary contractor providing interpreters in Afghanistan, has basic guidelines: interpreters need to be given a place to sleep, for example, and fed. But beyond that, how they are treated is often left up to the individual unit. Many times, they are treated the way they should be: as vital members of a team. Sometimes, however, they are shockingly disrespected.

Earlier this year, I traveled through central Afghanistan as a civilian member of an American Provincial Reconstruction Team. We had a translator — we called her Brooklyn — who had been born and raised in California. During the initial briefing before our convoy set out, however, the team’s commander, an Air Force colonel, demanded that Brooklyn leave the briefing area, referring to her as “that local woman.”

The briefing slides were marked “SECRET,” which caused the colonel understandable alarm. Brooklyn, however, had a security clearance allowing her to be present. Perhaps the real problem was that she wore a headscarf, as one would expect a pious Muslim woman to do...

The real problem is that a good number of the United States officers are now Christian Amerikan Taliban themselves.

... Brooklyn told me that the occasional grumpy officer wasn’t her only problem. She also complained about Mission Essential Personnel’s sloppy management, saying that the company tended to hire elderly interpreters, unsuited for rough travel in a war zone, just because they passed a language test. She said the contractor was unresponsive to complaints of sexual harassment and mistreatment.

There is also a growing number of stories of local interpreters who have been denied medical treatment. According to CorpWatch, a group that monitors military contractors, an interpreter named Basir Ahmed was fired for “failing to show up for work” last year when he was recuperating from shrapnel wounds to his leg received from a homemade bomb that exploded while he was on patrol with American forces near the Pakistani border.

In winning hearts and minds, how we treat Afghans as individuals matters more than how many Taliban we kill or how many roads we build. If we cannot treat our military interpreters with basic respect, why should Afghan civilians trust us to help them remake their nation?

Answer: they shouldn't because really that's not the real reason we're there.

They know it. Many Americans there know it too. The only people who don't realize it are the rubes here at home. We are there for petrochemicals and opium. That's all.

Lineage of Lies

...I think we are living in a world of lies: lies that don't even know they are lies, because they are the children and grandchildren of lies...

-Chris Floyd

In a truely amazing but totally predictable move, today The American Conservative has come out with the entire Sibel Edmonds story- some years after the fact and largely because she names a prominent DINOcrat.

The Brad Blog:

...It seems it may be difficult not to notice it, given that Edmonds finally names, on the record, for the first time, in a right-leaning periodical founded by Pat Buchanan, the identity of the currently-serving Democratic Congresswoman she has previously described as married with grown children and having been "hooked" into participating in a lesbian affair with a Turkish foreign agent, as she was secretly video-taped for blackmail purposes.

Edmonds has alluded to the Congresswoman, without naming her, in the past, most notably in her recent sworn and video-taped deposition in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case now pending before the Ohio Election Commission. In that testimony, she did manage to name the names of other Congress members she had previously identified publicly. At the time, we (and virtually no other media outlets) reported on her disclosures that Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), and Tom Lantos (D-CA, deceased), were all participants in blackmail and/or bribery schemes by and with agents of the Turkish government, as she became aware while translating wiretaps in the FBI's counterintelligence division after 9/11. Some of those crimes are said to have resulted in the theft and sale of nuclear weapons technology to allies and enemies alike...

...In addition to specific details on allegations of serious wrongdoing by the Congress members mentioned above, as well as State and Defense Department officials such as Marc Grossman, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle, Edmonds had offered details, during the deposition, about a Democratic Congresswoman who is "married with...grown children, but she is bisexual."

"So they have sent Turkish female agents," she testified, in her sometimes-broken English, according to the transcript [PDF]. "And that Turkish female agents work for Turkish government, and have sexual relationship with this Congresswoman in her townhouse actually in this area, and the entire episodes of their sexual conduct was being filmed because the entire house, this Congressional woman's house was bugged."

She went on to add that she hadn't used her name in the past because she left the FBI before knowing whether or not the information was actually used against the Congresswoman to blackmail her, or if the woman had even been made aware of it. "I don't know if she did anything illegal afterwards," Edmonds said.

In Giraldi's AmCon interview, Edmonds again repeats that she doesn't know if the Congresswoman "ever was actually blackmailed or did anything for the Turkish woman," but she does name her name this time...

The Congresswoman in question, according to Edmonds, is Illinois' 9th-district Rep. Jan Schakowsky...

The reason for attempting to get at Schakowsky, Edmonds believes, is so that they would be able to get both her "and her husband Robert Creamer to perform certain illegal operational facilitations for them in Illinois," along with Hastert, who was already on the payroll, and several other Chicago officials.

Edmonds has previously disclosed some of Hastert's dealings with shady Turkish operatives. Many of those charges were originally detailed in a 2005 Vanity Fair exposé by David Rose, which focused on the allegations of payoffs to Hastert by the Turks to the tune of some half a million dollars, or more.

Schakowsky's husband, lobbyist Robert Creamer, was indicted on 16 counts of bank fraud in 2004. In 2005 he pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to five months in prison and 11 months of house arrest. He was released from the federal penitentiary in 2006.

Since leaving Congress, Hastert, as Edmonds points out to American Conservative, and as previously reported, now works as a registered lobbyist for the Turkish government for some $35,000 a month.

Schakowsky is a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she is a member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management and the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation...

...Edmonds is more specific than even in her recent deposition, in explaining what she's been disallowed from talking about publicly for so long. She names very specific names, describes massive government infiltration and the theft of weapons technology and nuclear secrets beginning at the very top of government (the State Department and top White House officials and appointees), going through Congress (at least half a dozen current and former members) and defense contractors (RAND), through Ph.D. programs (MIT) and highly-classified nuclear facilities (Sandia, Los Alamos) and even, for good measure, through the media (New York Times) and beyond.

She discusses a well-organized foreign intelligence black market superstore, benefiting everyone from treasonous U.S. officials to operatives and governments in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, al-Qaeda, and beyond.

"No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds's revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files," Giraldi notes in the opening of his nearly-4,000 word article/interview. "As Sibel herself puts it," Giraldi writes, "'If this were written up as a novel, no one would believe it.'"

Bingo. And shy of investigation from other media and/or law enforcement, that could still remain the case, even after AmCon's exclusive.

Where any of her allegations may be untrue or inaccurate, given the exceptional gravity of them, it would be nice if the media investigated if only to disprove them. If they can. Or, otherwise, corroborate them with other sources.

Virtually all of the mainstream corporate media outlets that have bothered to investigate her story over the years --- largely before Edmonds was able to speak out herself --- such as CBS' 60 Minutes, Vanity Fair, Sunday Times of London (front-page series here, here and here), etc. --- have almost all been able to find corroboration from various sources, including within the FBI, for the allegations.

It remains both astounding and alarming that almost all of those same media have now stopped dead in their tracks from continuing to dig, investigate, and report...

Well, not so much really. After all, McChrystal wants to get his War On or Else. Afghanistan is the cash cow of the narco-state.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Recession, repression, man... It's all the same thing, man,"

-Cheech Marin

Cheech sees things a lot clearer than a lot of people.

Speaking of the fogbound, Kevin Flaherty speaks to the Afghan war scam at Cryptogon:

...Failure? Someone wound up with a whole lot of opium and heroin, and a bunch of corporations made a killing from a gusher of absurd and lucrative contracts.

That sounds more like just another day at the office than failure to me—considering the criminal organizations involved and their blood soaked gravy train.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s shakedown reminds me of a classic bit of black comedy from my IT days, when “consultants” would show up to my festering tumor workplace du jour bearing, “innovate solutions”...

I used to think, “How come these bozos are so happy when this big top is weeks—or even days—away from total failure?”

After watching well groomed people printing out “Standard Operating Procedures” and preparing PowerPoint presentations, it hit me: “I get it. The whole damn show is a scam. We’re all just pretending to be busy until the checks start to bounce. And then it will be time to do it all again somewhere else.”

So, after eight years of failure, McChrystal writes, “While the situation is serious, success is still achievable.”

By Christ on a stick, I damn near choked when I read that. It all came back to me. Doomed IT workers are told nonsense like that on an almost daily basis. Did McChrystal hand out matching branded stress relief balls, pens and mousepads? Were delicious bagels and fresh, hot coffee provided?

...You know what I’d tell bosses, after sitting though something like that, especially if the consulting firm sent a supermodel in a shortish skirt to deliver the pitch, with all the nerd-slobs in the room wondering, “Is her blouse unbuttoned like that on purpose?”

“Hold on to your wallet.”

Then there's the Serious approach.

President Obama continued his alternative media outlet blitz Monday, telling David Letterman that he will be “asking some very hard questions” before deciding whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan...

No kidding, Dave?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ruled by Vampires

A good clip from "Capitalism: A Love Story".

I wonder if the Rahmmer will let Barry O. see it?

Kill Bill

Barry O. continues to have problems dancing with those that brung him.

Matt Tiabbi:

...So Obama gets elected and swoops into Washington with a big mandate and now the question for him becomes, how do I make all of my various sponsors happy? If you look at the proposals carefully you can see that the whole policy debate is shaped by this dynamic. What is consistently present throughout the policies favored by the White House is an effort to use tax money to subsidize the existing employer-based private system instead of doing the logical thing and taking the bite — for a bite had to be taken out of someone — out of the pharma and insurance industries.

As an added bonus for all of us, the “reform” will include individual mandates designed to significantly increase the insurance and pharma industry’s customer base. So in the end, what we’re looking at is a pair of handouts to corporate donors: tax subsidies to ease the cost of insurance for employers, and mandates to push more business to the health care industry.

On the road to trying to pull this appalling snow job off, however, the Obama administration has stumbled on opposition from both sides. Obviously it will be an enormous victory if progressives can somehow get passed a bill with a real public option and reform of drug prices. But failing that, it would be a very important achievement just to kill the bill entirely. It seldom happens that the public is awake and focused enough to have this kind of OK Corral confrontation with the DC oligarchy, and it has to take advantage.

Of course, if the bill is killed entirely, the beckista will be crowing, and the main$tream will be gushing about how re-energized the Rethuglicans are.

Never mind. Remember that a public mandate without a public option is the worst kind of tax paid directly to the banksters without even the appearance of pausing in the U.S. Treasury. This must be stopped in its tracks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Audacity of the Incredulous

Apparently the One actually read his job description and seems to think that if the banksters don't care about it, he can actually be the Commander-In-Chief and make a few good decisions.

Putie approves, and complements:

...President Obama’s decision to cancel an antimissile defense system in Eastern Europe earned a strong welcome from Russian leaders on Friday...

...Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who had repeatedly assailed the antimissile system as a grave danger to Russia’s security, called Mr. Obama’s decision “correct and brave.” President Dmitri A. Medvedev hinted that Russia would respond favorably to the decision to replace former President George W. Bush’s plan with a missile shield seen as less threatening to Moscow...

What is this braveness Putin speaks of? The Company thinktanks came out swiftly today:

...“I hope our administration really thought this through and this was not about appeasing Russia, because I don’t think that justifies the decision,” said Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a nonpartisan group that receives financing from defense contractors as well as private individuals who support missile defense...

Nice to know those missilemakers are bankrolling such nonpartisan opinion. Of course, they don't mind hearing the more partisan kind too:

...Soon after President Obama announced that he would abandon President Bush’s plan to construct a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic (and replace it with a smarter, more effective one), the right wing predictably went into hysterics.

The typical cast of characters trotted out their predictable neoconservative lines. The Weekly Standard and the National Review led the cries of “appeasement,” “surrender,” and “weakness,” with the likes of super-hawk John Bolton calling Obama’s move “pre-emptive capitulation.”

Last night on Fox News, Charles Krauthammer joined in, complaining that Russia can now take over all of eastern Europe (despite the fact that didn’t happen the last time he predicted such an event). But later in the program, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes took demagoguery’s top prize:

BARNES: And it’s reminiscent of that famous meeting in 1961 of John F. Kennedy, a rookie president like Barack Obama, then with Nikita Khrushchev. And what did Khrushchev conclude from that meeting? That it was a weak president. And what happened? You had the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Berlin Wall built in Berlin, obviously. Worse could happen here.

Yup, it was that rookie weakness that precipitated that Cuban Missile Crisis.

Robert Kennedy told the story a little differently for the record about his meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin during the crisis:

...The Soviet Union had secretly established missile bases in Cuba while at the same time proclaiming privately and publicly that this would never be done. We had to have a commitment by tomorrow that those bases would be removed. I was not giving them an ultimatum but a statement of fact. He should understand that if they did not remove those bases, we would remove them. President Kennedy had great respect for the Ambassador's country and the courage of its people. Perhaps his country might feel it necessary to take retaliatory action; but before that was over, there would be not only dead Americans but dead Russians as well.

He asked me what offer the United States was making, and I told him of the letter that President Kennedy had just transmitted to Khrushchev. He raised the question of our removing the missiles from Turkey. I said that there could be no quid pro quo or any arrangement made under this kind of threat or pressure and that in the last analysis this was a decision that would have to be made by NATO. However, I said, President Kennedy had been anxious to remove those missiles from Italy and Turkey for a long period of time. He had ordered their removal some time ago, and it was our judgment that, within a short time after this crisis was over, those missiles would be gone.

I said President Kennedy wished to have peaceful relations between our two countries. He wished to resolve the problems that confronted us in Europe and Southeast Asia. He wished to move forward on the control of nuclear weapons...

Like the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy inherited a Company plan in Turkey: nuclear missiles aimed at Moscow. Like the Bay of Pigs, when Kennedy aborted the Company plan, he made a few enemies. That he avoided World War III won him the gratitude of both the Soviet and American people and the scorn of the Praetorians.

Those missiles, and their removal, was a Top Secret at the time.

One hears from Russian friends that Khrushchev felt admiration for Kennedy after this affair.

One suspects he felt Kennedy's decision was “correct and brave.”

Regarding another current Company venture, McClatchy reports:

...A majority of Americans think the country isn't winning the war in Afghanistan, and an even larger majority opposes sending more troops in an effort to turn things around, according to a new McClatchy/Ipsos poll...

I wonder where they got that idea, despite the best efforts to control the data flow?

As with Kennedy, the Generals and their sponsors grow increasingly angry that the current administration lacks the proper Imperial attitude. Unlike the Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton administration, there seems to be no special relationship or understanding of Company policy in these matters. One suspects if one described that special relationship to the One, he would suspect you of being a conspiracy theorist.

One hopes he does not learn of this relationship the hard way the Kennedys did.

Friday, September 18, 2009


असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर् मा अमृतं गमय

Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya

From delusion lead me to truth
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to immortality.

Letters from the Hon. Senator

I get the strangest things in the mail.

Surge the Afghan Army

Dear Friend,

I recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan, where I found the battle against the Taliban and al Qaeda to be at a crucial stage. The situation is serious. Security has deteriorated.

The Obama Administration's new strategy, focusing on securing the safety of the Afghan population and partnering with the Afghan army in that effort, is an important start at reversing these trends.

For this strategy to succeed, I believe there are urgent steps we should take to support the Afghan security forces in their efforts to become self-sufficient in providing security to their nation.

These steps include:

• increasing the size of the Afghan army and police much faster than presently planned;

• providing more trainers for the Afghan army and police than presently planned;

• providing them more equipment than presently planned;

• and working to separate local Taliban fighters from their leaders and attract them to the side of the government as we did in Iraq.

I also believe that we should take these steps before we consider whether to increase U.S. combat forces above the levels already planned for the next few months.

If we take the right steps, we can ensure that Afghanistan does not revert to a Taliban-friendly government that could once again provide a safe haven for al Qaeda to terrorize us and the world.

Providing the needed resources to strengthen and expedite the ability of the Afghan army and police to secure their country will avoid the creation of a larger U.S. footprint in Afghanistan; increase the chances of success in defeating the Taliban; and foster the establishment of a long-term relationship with a stable and democratic Afghanistan. And I believe this approach should be urgently implemented before considering a further increase in U.S. ground combat forces, beyond what is already planned to be deployed by the end of the year.

I thought you might like to read my remarks on the Senate floor last week outlining this proposal in greater detail. Click here to take a look.

Best wishes,
Carl Levin

My response?

The only way to ensure Afghanistan does not revert to a Taliban-friendly government that could once again provide a safe haven for al Qaeda to terrorize us and the world is to completely withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, shut down the narcotics trade by sealing its borders, and end our support for the corrupt Afghani government.

Yes, there would be chaos. But that has been made inevitable by years of CIA-run foreign policy there. Best to seal it up to all but humanitarian relief and clean up our own act.

Another thing that could be done: end all private contractor-supported efforts on behalf of the United States government. The mercenaries are running the underground show in the so-called war on terror, and they have no desire for the show to ever end. These companies infiltrate the entire defense and intelligence establishment.

Not that you can actually do anything about that, sir, but you should know millions of Americans understand what has gone on even if we're helpless to deal with it.

Oh well. Another letter for my Company file.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Not-Cheney


The True Believers are going to Disneyland...

Christopher Cooper on the n- dimesnional chess player-in-chief and his strategery:

...George W. Bush, President G. W. Bush, was and is an idiot. A shallow, stupid man of crude appetites when younger, his life would have been of no consequence had not the Republican party chosen him as the public face of the Cheney government. I doubt he has to this day any coherent idea of how he found himself in the White House or who made the decisions while he lived there. He was, in the words of Mr. Bob Dylan, "only a pawn in their game." You know it and I know it as we say here in the woods of Maine. And liberals and Democrats know it. Members of the print and broadcast press know it. Bloggers are well aware of this. Hell, Republicans even have an obvious degree of contempt for the sad little creature who was the putative president for two terms recently ended. They do still love and fear Dick Cheney though. And war. And greed.

Because Al Gore rolled over and played dead and did not misbehave or act out or fight for himself and his country, the Supreme Court short-circuited the system and gave us George Bush, his stupidity, his wars, his coddling of the rich and his courting of crazies in the far fringes of Christian American Medieval backwardness.

Then, because John Kerry was an inept fool who ran a campaign that largely ran away from everything honorable he had once done and believed in, we were blessed with a second term of Richard B. Cheney and his wooden-headed puppet.

Throughout those eight long, dark years, whenever I complained about what our poor nation had become and was doing, I was advised to vote Democratic, early and often, and to contribute money to that party and its candidates. Only a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president, I was told, could reverse the terrible damage.

It came then to pass that we received those tools. The Democratic president and Congress, and after some finagling even the sixty-seat majority in the Senate. I was advised to watch for the great change to come rolling over us like a flood; we would soon be awash in progressivism. Our boys would come home from foreign wars, we would close our illegal prison camps, abandon torture and rendition. The rich would again be taxed, environmental abuses rolled back, people put ahead of corporations. We would get universal health care. Some of this would happen immediately upon Barack Obama taking office. Much would be in place in a magical, marvelous "first hundred days." What great changes a year would bring.

I don't have to tell you there is great and crushing disappointment among those who most fervently supported candidate Obama and his campaign for Change We Can Believe In. "I don't want any more Clintons," one man told me often last year. (He did not need to tell me he wanted no more Reagans, no Romneys, no Giulianis.)

We are still wasting money and lives in Iraq. We are wasting money and lives in Afghanistan at the highest rate since we blundered into that misunderstood (and, yes, "misunderestimated) country eight years ago. We keep in wire cages and steel and stone cells persons we picked up years ago; we do not try them nor do we release them. Some we send still to places where men do to other men those things both Bush and Obama have said we do not do. Our wars are not ended, they are escalated.

This new government is generous to bankers. The worst sort of bankers. Crooks. Thieves. You've read the tales, each more lurid than the other, of the wild ride Wall Street has enjoyed at your expense. Your taxes go to clean up their mess. They continue to reward themselves with bonuses. Nobody goes to jail.

Where is our new energy policy? Foundered on the fantasy of "clean coal", I fear, with mountaintop removal accelerating the devastation in Appalachia and the mile-long coal trains still snaking out of Wyoming daily, hourly.

And here we are about to receive a piece of crap that will be called health care reform but will instead be a gift to the very insurance companies, their managers and their investors, who have given us the worst system in the modern world. You may well be required to buy their bad product (as Republican Mitt Romney required of Massachusetts) and fined or taxed for failure to do so. Perhaps you'll be allowed to join with your neighbors and form a happy group to buy a bad plan together. What you will not get is anything even vaguely similar to a progressive, fair, publicly-financed system such as the rest of the civilized nations enjoy.

What you can be sure you'll get is the assurance that we have "passed a plan" because that's all that this president formerly known as the candidate of change is now promising-we will get a plan this year. It will be satisfactory to the insurance companies. It will further enrich them. Thousands will continue to suffer and die because this Congress and this Democratic president have made deals with and taken millions of dollars from the corporations that have brought us to our wretched present sickness.

And so it goes. And every so often the triangulation and dealing and selling-out is concealed by the cloak of hope and promise and we are treated to another allegedly inspiring speech, often using the same inane chant we heard so often last fall: "I'm fired up! I'm ready to go! Fired up! Ready to go!" (Great and sustained applause follows.) We were desperate for a leader; we got a motivational speaker.

There is disappointment and there is disgust and there is anger. You can read well-reasoned, articulate essays every day that detail the hooks the war industry and the investment bankers and the coal and nuclear industries have so firmly set in the body of this administration, this Democratic majority administration. You can have, and I have certainly had, long conversations with intelligent, honest, decent persons who are as disturbed by the policy similarities between Bush and Obama as you are

But don't say it out loud. Don't predict that what we see is what we get. Don't look from man to pig and pig to man and pronounce them much the same. Or do it if you like, and think it if you do, but don't be bold and say that the Democrats are not much better for us than the Republicans.

Your betters will remind you that Dick Cheney was a worse human being than Joe Biden. They will tell you that Obama is smart. He is playing a careful game. He is more progressive than his actions. He's only able to get what the Senate will allow him. He means well. He would like to do the right thing. He's fired up and he's ready to go. He's inspiring. He's not George Bush.

When we elect a selectman who proves himself inadequate, unsuitable or ill-intentioned, we say so. We complain. We tell him he misled us. We make his year in office unpleasant. We do not make excuses for him. But in that case we see only the individual, the man or the woman. We are not bound into any notions that this or that party will take us in a different direction than another. We seem to hear and see and understand better when we are not encumbered by faith, by the religion of party.

So I am neither amused nor amazed that the candidate of hope and change is doing the same dirty deals with the same merchants of death and greed as his predecessor. They are both creations of the two-party system. Whether they are ignorant dupes or are happily complicit, Republican or Democrat, white or black, may not, when the bolts are tightened and the valves adjusted and the contributions tallied and the collusion concluded, make a great deal of difference in how thoroughly you and I and the uninsured and the unadvantaged and the troops in Taliban territory and the villagers in the several countries where our taxes are turned into terror from above are screwed...

Obviously, The Force has a strong influence on the weak minded.

And how are those the mind tricks don't work on dealt with?

At Home at Work

You can be sure the Company brooks no liberal activist judges.

...In 2005, Jamie Lee Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. In an apparent attempt to cover up the incident, the company then put her in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.” Even more insultingly, the DOJ resisted bringing any criminal charges in the matter...

The perps were obviously small fry at KBR- anyone with any Cheneyburton clout would have simply ordered a hole dug in the desert, dropped her box in it, and bulldozed any evidence away.

In Iraq they call that "Missing in Action".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Extenuating Circumstances

...because, you know, he worked well for Bu$hie.

Holder will not ever seriously investigate Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton. Oh, yes, he and his Boss will posture and pontificate first about Hope and Change and then about Moving On. There's Better Things to Do, you know, Bigger Issues to Deal With, we'll be told. We are being told.

Besides, the Company has said it plainly through their Rethuglican mouthpieces.

...the US could face a terrorist attack if the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA's use of torture against "war on terror" suspects.

..."We are deeply concerned by recent news reports that you are 'poised to appoint a special prosecutor' to investigate CIA officials who interrogated al Qaeda terrorists. Such an investigation could have a number of serious consequences, not just for the honorable members of the intelligence community, but also for the security of all Americans," the letter said.

Yes, because if the Praetorians step aside, at the right moment, why who knows what will happen? They wouldn't want anything to happen to Americans, you know.

In fact, they're so concerned with your well being, Barry O.'s team has decided to ask
the U.S. Congress to extend three surveillance techniques for intelligence agencies tracking suspected militants that expire this year...

...The Justice Department specifically asked that Congress reauthorize the use of roving wiretaps, permitting authorities to track multiple communications devices owned by an individual since people can switch devices frequently and quickly.

The administration also asked that one particularly controversial intelligence gathering method be reauthorized -- accessing personal records...

...The administration also asked to continue being able to track suspected foreign militants who may be working individually rather than as part of a larger group...

It's always nice to get permission. But if they don't- well, after all, it's the Patriot Act we're talking about here. They will take names and do what must be done regardless, won't they?

Besides, they aren't just renewing the Patriot Act. They're filling it with Hope and Change and making it better:

...Previously, the Bush Administration has argued that the U.S. possesses "sovereign immunity" from suit for conducting electronic surveillance that violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, FISA is only one of several laws that restrict the government's ability to wiretap. The Obama Administration goes two steps further than Bush did, and claims that the US PATRIOT Act also renders the U.S. immune from suit under the two remaining key federal surveillance laws: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act. Essentially, the Obama Adminstration has claimed that the government cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes...

Now that's a back door even Dick Cheney could appreciate.

Speaking of back doors, Barry O.'s doing his best to keep all his promises to you. Who needs Gitmo when you've got Bagram?

"There can be no real healthcare reform without giving Americans the choice of a public health insurance program."

-Howard Dean

Who's Afraid of the Company Men?

Barry O., you think?

It would certainly explain the Gitmo scam.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

WIth Friends Like These, Progressives Need No Enemies

[via BagNewsNotes]

It touches me, somewhere, somehow, when a main$tream rag that never saw a word of warmongering fascism and Company disinformation from Bu$hie it didn't suck up and vomit across Amerika takes up the Oborg mantle of reform and comes out with a Serious issue cover like this.

I'll say it once more, and slowly.

No real liberal progressive wants to deny people health care based on their age or health.

However, most private insurance companies do: and that's why no insurance mandate without a public option and strict corporate regulation should be allowed.

That isn't to say there aren't DINOcrat idiots, astroturfing ingenuous trolls, and Company plants Seriously spewing this nonsense.

It doesn't help either when Obama assures voters he'll back a public option the same day the White House staff and proxies tell the main$tream media it's not so important to the Democratic Party.

Well, maybe not to the DINOcrats, anyway.

Exactly how is this not supposed to smell like a bait-and-switch?

Crisis of Convenience

Brad Hicks [via Avedon] has a really clear view of what is going down in the medical profession:

...To be honest, I had a hard time paying attention to anything President Obama said Wednesday night after he said this, let alone taking him seriously on the subject. From near the beginning of his speech:

"There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's -- (applause) -- where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.*

"I've said -- I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both these approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch."

And what I say, then, is, I believe it makes more sense once you've said that to put it off until we have an actual Democrat, or gods help us even a liberal Republican like Richard Nixon, in the White House. Someone who would actually support Medicare for All, instead of some god-awful patchwork of public-private partnerships that's going to be an even bigger handout to already malevolent and wealthy corporations than Medicare part D and TARP were.

If nothing else, I insist that this makes more sense than the President's approach because the President's approach just plain flatly will not work. Contrary to what he claims, the reason that medical expenses in the US are skyrocketing is not inefficiency and waste. Nor, contrary to what the Republicans are claiming, is it malpractice insurance; this was solved at the state level two years ago, and malpractice insurance rates are down across the board. The main reason that health care costs have skyrocketed is honest-to-gods scarcity. And that scarcity is entirely artificial. And his approach does nothing to address the artificial scarcity of doctors, or the artificial scarcity of newly (wrongly) patented drugs. And the other reason why health care costs have skyrocketed is flagrantly corrupt profiteering in both the insurance and pharmaceutical industries...

As someone who has worked in health industries since 1974, I would say this pretty well hits the nail on the head. One way to create value is by artificial rationing. The whole medical profession is heavily selected and indoctrinated to maintain its elitism.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Straw Catcalls

How Reptilican to call the One a liar about something he's not lying about and totally ignore an opponents facade that also favors your position.

What would that be?

The Village keeps telling us the private word is that the public option is off the table.

The One says both yes and no.

...“I just want to figure out what works,” Mr. Obama said in March at a White House forum. If he could drive down health costs and expand coverage “entirely through the market,” he said, “I’d be happy to do it that way.” And “if there was a way of doing it that involved more government regulation and involvement, I’m happy to do it that way, as well,” he added...

Then there's the Happy talk.

All this obfuscation despite all those good words about how the One really, really wants a public health insurance option. They're kind of like all those good words about ending the war in Iraq, one supposes. They're kind of like the standard Bu$hCo talk about No Child Left Behind and Clean Air and protecting the environment. Kind of like the Jobless Recovery that's simply set the stage for a bigger bubble pop and shakedown than what's happened over the last year.

Frank Rich detects a pattern:

...After a good couple of years of living with the guy, we know the drill that defines his leadership, for better and worse. When trouble lurks, No Drama Obama stays calm as everyone around him goes ballistic. Then he waits — and waits — for that superdramatic moment when he can ride to his own rescue with what the press reliably hypes as The Do-or-Die Speech of His Career. Cable networks slap a countdown clock on the corner of the screen and pump up the suspense. Finally, Mighty Obama steps up to the plate and, lo and behold, confounds all the doubting bloviators yet again by (as they are wont to say) hitting it out of the park...

Of course, all the confusion the Politician-in-Chief engenders plays right into the hands of the Right. Thus the call of Liar about something the One pretty concretely isn't going for, while the sound of crickets in the night about the bets he's really hedging.

Along with the Right and the owners of both parties, too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Still Unthinkable After All These Years

...and all this evidence.

Craphammer is still sucking up to Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton and the Company.

... You can't sign a petition demanding not one but four investigations of the charge that the Bush administration deliberately allowed Sept. 11, 2001 -- i.e., collaborated in the worst massacre ever perpetrated on American soil -- and be permitted in polite society, let alone have a high-level job in the White House.

Unlike the other stuff (see above), this is no trivial matter. It's beyond radicalism, beyond partisanship. It takes us into the realm of political psychosis, a malignant paranoia that, unlike the Marxist posturing, is not amusing. It's dangerous. In America, movements and parties are required to police their extremes. Bill Buckley did that with Birchers. Liberals need to do that with "truthers."

That is to say, you can not ask for an investigation of a Dear Leader and expect to ever have a job in government. Ever. Blind obedience to your masters is required. Blind obedience to masters of other political parties is too.

Even more: you can not be permitted into polite society.

Oh the anguish. What will the neighbors think?

What you can not argue with is that Bu$hie used 9/11 to excuse a war with Iraq he knew was not needed. He consciously lied about the need for it. We have motive for any number of crimes from that fact.

One hears that the Wisdom of the Village is dissolving from the outside. How nice. They still have all the big guns, the troops, and as of late, the money, too.

I'm sorry, that last statement isn't true.

The banksters that own Washington have all the money or at least as much as the Treasury can create for them out of thin air.

Hey, Charles Krauthammer. You can reject whomever you like. The rest of the world tends to listen to the people you reject, because they know what reptiles you accept.

Me, I listen to Chris Floyd:

...It's really quite simple and, to my mind, self-evident: the "official" story of what happened on September 11, 2001, is not a complete or accurate account. (We should of course speak of official stories, because there have been several shifting, contradictory scenarios offered by the great and the good in the six years since the attack. However, for clarity's sake, we'll stick with the singular for now, and will assume -- as the entire media and political establishment does -- that the report by the Hamilton-Kean 9/11 Commission is the final "official" version.)

To put it plainly, this official account is riddled with holes: unexplained inconsistencies, unprecedented occurrences, astounding coincidences, mysterious lacunae, and deliberate obfuscations. It is, in fact, a more improbable "conspiracy theory" than many of those suggested by the much-derided "9/11 truth movement."

...But you and I know that there will never be an investigation like that into 9/11. Regardless of what it might or might not reveal about the origin of the attacks, such a free-wheeling, fully-powered probe would inevitably uncover other vast swamps of bloody murk in the shadowlands where state power, criminal gangs, covert ops and financial interests mingle, merge, squabble and seethe. It would, in other words, open a window into the real way that the world works, into the bestial realm of raw power and savage greed that churns on behind the facade of public events and the trappings of state.

And this infernal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood. The rubes are never to know what their betters are getting up to, and how they are getting up to it, and the true cost -- in blood, so much blood, so much suffering and sorrow -- of their goings-on.

...This is not a new evil. It's as old as the hills, and is with us always.

But atrocity tends to raze the ground of history. In the aftermath, with the cries of lamentation rising over fresh graves, it is always Zero Hour. "That which happened" – to borrow the poet Paul Celan's phrase for the Nazis' unspeakable crimes – buries what came before, effaces the paths that led us to this place, strips away the cloak of reason (a thin rag in the best of times), and leaves nothing but the bare, anguished call for revenge.

... Blood will have blood; that's certain. But blood will not end it. For murder is fertile: it breeds more death, like a spider laden with a thousand eggs. And who now can break this cycle, which has been going on for generations? Past folly undoes us, but who, in the Zero Hour, can ignore the lamentations? Who can deny the ghosts, these loved ones gone, the red food demanded by the dead?

There is no answer. It will not stop. They say the world has now changed irreversibly, that nothing will ever be the same. But it will be the same. The same engines of hatred, the same murk, the same dirt, the same mixed matter in human brains.

This is not a new evil. It's as old as the hills, and it is with us always.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fair and Balanced

It's not just the Confederate Kabuki last night the One has to deal with.

The Village loves him but his former base- unlike his current Ba$e- doesn't.

Lambert (with lots of links I haven't included):

...sure, I'm glad Obama's defending liberalism now -- even if the administration could hardly wait for Teddy's body to cool before plastering his name on a bill that criminalizes the uninsured and bails out the insurance companies...

Then there's Dennis the Menace [tip o'teh tinfoil to vastleft]:


The Butterfly Nebula from a recently upgraded Hubble.

No wonder the Fundamentalists hate this thing.

Astronomy has been punching holes in the flat earthers' best efforts since Galileo observed "E pur si muove" .

Talking the Talk

Good words from Barry O.

But can he walk the walk and produce at least a public option?

A mandate without a public option is worse than nothing at all.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Not "What Would He Do?"

...but What is He Doing?

Go read tbogg

I've mentioned before that I don't really like to attend "progressive events" because really nice people suffering from advanced stages of extreme sincerity make me itchy. I think it's great that people with dreams and ideals think that if they if could only get the opposition to sit down and listen to their heartfelt arguments they could win them over. I think they also spend a lot of time being horribly disappointed.

First of all you have to decide if you really want to win. If you just want to spend your time debating hypotheticals and dreaming of how swell things could be while weaving yourself a safety net of emergency qualifiers in case things don't go the way you planned, go get a job at the fucking Brookings Institution. But if you're gonna go to ideological war, then go to ideological war. And if you are going to fight this war you have to ask yourself "what would Dick Cheney would do?"

Never apologize.
Never admit weakness.
Never concede points.
Never defend.
Always attack...

With solid majorities now, and God knows what will happen in 2010, the clock is ticking on Barack Obama to take charge of what once promised to be the defining issue of his administration. Back In January Obama told Republican leaders "I won."

It's time to fucking start acting like it.

Agreed, but...

Beyond the fact that first and foremost Obama is a politician, there are two (or more) factors at work.

1) Rahm Emanual controls every bit of information he has. Good grief, he tried to take the man's blackberry away from him. Do you honestly think Barry O. can even visit The Wall Street Pravda website without Adult supervision?

2) The lessons of what happens to presidents who don't follow Company orders are well known.

Exhibit A: Jimmy Carter

Exhibit B: John F. Kennedy

In order to act like his own man, he will have to confront his own Praetorians. Incessantly. 24h a day.

How long would you survive in that environment?

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Freedom of Speech Unless You Say What You're Thinking

Somebody pointed out the elephant in the room, so he got fired to make room for more Right thinking people.

In a victory for Republicans and the Obama administration’s conservative critics, Van Jones resigned as the White House’s environmental jobs “czar” on Saturday.

Controversy over Mr. Jones’s past comments and affiliations has slowly escalated over several weeks, erupting on Friday with calls for his resignation.

Appointed as a special adviser for “green jobs” by President Obama, Mr. Jones did not go through the traditional vetting process for administration officials who must be confirmed by the Senate. So it was not until recently that some of Mr. Jones’s past actions received broad airing, including his derogatory statements about Republicans in February and his signature on a 2004 letter suggesting that former President George W. Bush might have knowingly allowed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to occur in order to use them as a “pre-text to war.”

Mr. Jones’s involvement in the 1990s with a group called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement prompted recent accusations by conservative critics that he associated with Communists...

We haven't heard that one in awhile. It's once again assuring to note that only Bu$hCo can go to China.

The Banksters have Discovered Insurance

Which explains all the dirty deals the Rahmmer is bent on cooking up with the blue dogs and the rethuglicans for the One.

They can't make a housing bubble so easily anymore.

...The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.

The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money...

Now you wonder where all the money for all the airtime against health care for everyone is coming from?

And what could go wrong?

...policyholders often let their life insurance lapse before they die, for a variety of reasons — their children grow up and no longer need the financial protection, or the premiums become too expensive. When that happens, the insurer does not have to make a payout.

But if a policy is purchased and packaged into a security, investors will keep paying the premiums that might have been abandoned; as a result, more policies will stay in force, ensuring more payouts over time and less money for the insurance companies.

“When they set their premiums they were basing them on assumptions that were wrong,” said Neil A. Doherty, a professor at Wharton who has studied life settlements.

Indeed, Mr. Doherty says that in reaction to widespread securitization, insurers most likely would have to raise the premiums on new life policies...

Making it more likely of course, the new policyholders would abandon the policies or simply never buy them in the first place.

Now, which vampire cephalopod is at the bottom of this drain? Chances are, you guessed it:

...Goldman Sachs has developed a tradable index of life settlements, enabling investors to bet on whether people will live longer than expected or die sooner than planned. The index is similar to tradable stock market indices that allow investors to bet on the overall direction of the market without buying stocks...

Of course, there are other risks for the banksters and their rubes investors:

...In addition to fraud, there is another potential risk for investors: that some people could live far longer than expected.

It is not just a hypothetical risk. That is what happened in the 1980s, when new treatments prolonged the life of AIDS patients. Investors who bought their policies on the expectation that the most victims would die within two years ended up losing money.

It happened again last fall when companies that calculate life expectancy determined that people were living longer...

Increase the average lifespan of the undeserving masses lucky duckies by giving them medicare for all or even a public insurance option based on a progressive tax? Socialism! The pirates Barons of Wall Street are doing their patriotic duty ensuring no public plan ever passes Barry O.'s desk.

If it ever arrives there- which the DINOcrats are doing their best to avoid, But Mark Karlin has it wrong:

... the White House reluctantly released a partial log of who has visited with Obama's staff on so-called "healthcare reform" and it reads like a who's who of Big Pharma and health insurance lobbyists.

Let's stop the pretense of Obama making some bold move here.

Remember Medicare Part "D"? That was when Bush stuffed money in the pockets of Big Pharma by getting more prescription coverage for seniors, but only because the government was prohibited from negotiating or setting prices for the medications. In short, Big Pharma dictated the bill and has made billions of dollars and contributed to the Medicare shortfall at an an exorbitant rate. Medicare Part "D" helped seniors, but its real purpose was to loot the public treasury in order to fatten the profits of Big Pharma.

Now in that bill was a so-called "trigger" that if Big Pharma charged "too much" then a public option would trigger in on pharmaceuticals. But Big Pharma wrote the target for the trigger so high in the bill, which the Republicans championed, that the trigger has never been reached.

So a few weeks back Rahm "I don't give a shit about anything but winning -- don't f**king talk to me about principle and doing the right thing" Emanuel suggested to the Wall Street Journal that the public option for "Healthcare Reform" was no big deal anyway and the WH would be satisfied with a "trigger" for "healthcare reform," meaning that the for-profit insurance companies would police themselves. The WH had already negotiated a "self-policing" deal with Big Pharma, while keeping true healthcare reform advocates -- including public opiton and single payer advocates -- at bay, not even including them in negotiations.

Now, a New York Times article on Friday indicated that Emanuel was negotiating with Olympia Snowe on a "trigger" instead of a public option. This is Bush style "reform," not the change Obama promised. It's a sad joke that will allow Emanuel to end up with an outhouse and call it a victory, because that's all he is concerned with; i.e., to say he won, but what he won doesn't matter a whole lot to him...

That's not true. All the money he and his boss plan to make off this deal matter very much. You see, it's all a matter of priorities.