Picks Commentary

Sunday, January 28, 2007

People of the Lie Revisited

A few nights ago, I was skimming through M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie, a book I've been drawn to for twenty years. Below are some excerpts I invite you to consider, based upon your own observations of life in the land of the free and home of the brave for the past six, or so, years.

"I have learned nothing in twenty years that would suggest that evil people can be rapidly influenced by any means other than raw power."

'They [evil people] are criminals in that they commit 'crimes' against life and liveliness. But except in rare instances -- such as the case of a Hitler -- when they might achieve extraordinary degrees of political power that remove them from the ordinary restraints, their 'crimes' are so subtle and covert that they cannot be clearly designated as crimes."

"They [people in jail] themselves are quick to point this out, claiming they have been caught precisely because they are the 'honest criminals.' The truly evil, they will tell you, always reside outside of jail. Clearly these proclamations are self-justifying. They are also, I believe, generally accurate."

"If evil people cannot be defined by the illegality of their deeds or the magnitude of their sins, then how are we to define them? The answer is by the consistency of their sins. While usually subtle, their destructiveness is remarkably consistent. This is because those who have crossed over the line are characterized by their absolute refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness."

"A predominant characteristic, however, of the behavior of those I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them."

"Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people I label as evil are chronic scapegoaters. In The Road Less Traveled I defined evil 'as the exercise of political power -- that is the imposition of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion -- in other words to avoid . . . spiritual growth' (p. 279). In other words, the evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Spiritual growth requires the acknowledgment of one's need to grow. If we cannot make that acknowledgment, we have no option except to attempt to eradicate the evidence of our imperfection."

"The words 'image,' 'appearance,' and 'outwardly' are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their 'goodness' is all on the level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie. This is why they are the 'people of the lie.'"

"It often happens, then, that the evil may be recognized by its very disguise. The lie can be perceived before the misdeed it is designed to hide -- the cover-up before the fact. We see the smile that hides the hatred, the smooth and oily manner that masks the fury, the velvet glove that covers the fist. Because they are such experts at disguise, it is seldom possible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil, The disguise is usually impenetrable. But what we catch are glimpses of 'The uncanny game of hide-and-seek in the obscurity of the soul, in which it, the single human soul, evades itself, avoids itself, hides from itself.'" (Martin Buber, Good and Evil) Peck goes on to say in a footnote, "Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some highly visible form of Christian within our culture?"

"The reader will be struck by the extraordinary willfullness of evil people. They are men and women of obviously strong will, determined to have their own way. There is a remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others."

Picks of the Week:

Global warming: the final verdict: A study by the world's leading experts says global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought

"A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent."

Charging towards the big melt: Consumption has climate change consequences

"That North Americans, and to a lesser extent Europeans, are profligate consumers is well known. If everyone consumed like North Americans we'd need five planets to support us — only three planets are necessary if we all lived like Europeans, according to the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report.

"The world collectively overshot the Earth's capacity to support us in 1984, the report notes. In the 22 years since reaching that crucial tipping point, rates of consumption of resources have accelerated. Not just in North America and Europe but China and India, not to mention other parts of Asia and Latin America."

Alps glaciers will melt by 2050

"Glaciers will all but disappear from the Alps by 2050, scientists warned Monday, basing their bleak outlook on mounting evidence of slow but steady melting of the continental ice sheets."

California's changing climate: Under water by 2100?

"The seas have been rising for 18,000 years, but the pace has quickened.
"At the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean crept seven inches higher during the past century, as global warming melted glaciers and expanded ocean waters."

US chief executives urge Bush to tackle global warming

"The chief executives of nine US corporations, who formed the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), displayed a united front as they called on Bush to support mandatory caps on businesses' greenhouse gas emissions."

World is running out of water

"The world is running out of water and needs a radical plan to tackle shortages that threaten the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN's Millennium Project.

"Professor Sachs, who is credited with sparking pop star Bono's crusade for African development, told an environment conference in Delhi that the world simply had 'no more rivers to take water from'."

Japan meeting seeks to save tuna from extinction

"Japan's insatiable appetite for tuna has been a key factor behind the threat to stocks, and now increasing demand from other countries is adding to the pressure."

Too bad Japan doesn't support a whaling ban.

View of US's global role 'worse'

"The World Service survey, conducted in 25 nations including the US, found that three in four respondents disapproved of how Washington had dealt with Iraq.

"The majority of the 26,381 respondents also disapproved of the way five other foreign policy areas had been handled."

Travel to US off 17 pct since 9/11

"A 17 percent drop in overseas travelers to the United States since the September 11 attacks has cost the country more than $15 billion in lost taxes and nearly 200,000 jobs, a study showed on Tuesday.

"Since the September 11 attacks, the United States has tightened security measures and toughened its visa and entry requirements. As a result, the country was ranked as the world's most unfriendly to visitors in a survey conducted last year of travelers from 16 nations."

Hours before State of Union, Bush approval drops to low of 28 percent

"On the day of his State of the Union speech, President Bush's approval rating has dropped to a new low of twenty-eight percent, and sixty-four percent 'disapprove of the way he's handling his job,' according to CBS News."

Bush's war on the republic

"In effect, Bush has transformed what began as a definable military objective – the defeat of 'terrorist groups with global reach' – into an endless war against what he regards as evil, a conflict so vague that it is claiming as collateral damage America’s 'unalienable rights' and the Founders’ checks and balances on the powers of the Executive.

"In Bush’s State of the Union speech on Jan. 23, there could be heard a requiem for the Republic."

Dropping like flies: Resignations of US attorneys raise suspicion of political purge

"In the past year 11 U.S. attorneys have resigned their positions, some under pressure from their Justice Department superiors and the White House, even through they had commendable performance records.

"Democratic senators are concerned that the high turnover is linked to an obscure, recently passed provision of the Patriot Act. The provision allows the Bush administration to fill vacancies with interim prosecutors for the remainder of the president's term without submitting them to the Senate for confirmation. Previously, interim appointments were made by a vote of federal judges in the districts served by the outgoing U.S. attorneys."

No proof is needed, but this proves the Patriot Act is bogus and is a totalitarian tool

Gonzales appoints political loyalists into vacant US attorney slots

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.

"The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors."

Secrecy is at issue in US suits opposing domestic spying

"The Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the National Security Agency's highly classified domestic surveillance program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges' clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies.

"Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions."

Executive order expands presidential power over agencies

"The White House has quietly amended a key executive order to tighten the president’s grip on federal agencies that enforce health, safety and environmental protections. The new order, issued last Thursday, gives the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) enhanced tools to oversee and interfere with federal regulations on everything from warning labels on medicines to safety standards for construction worksites."

Thinking people should be more concerned more than ever about the Dictating Duo, The Moron and The Dick. Anything is now possible and likely. If you heard the arrogance of The Dick on the Wolf Blitzer show Wednesday (read the transcipt) you realize the gloves are off.

Off the rails: Big Oil, Big Brother win big in the State of the Union by Greg Palast

"Instead of unleashing the Reserve and busting Big Oil’s price gouging Bush will double the Reserve, which will require buying three-quarters of a billion barrels of oil. This is a nice $40 billion pay-out to Big Oil from the US Treasury. Compare this to the President’s health insurance plan which will be 'revenue neutral' — that is, have a net investment of zero.

"But the $40 billion in loot the oilmen will get from us taxpayers for doubling the Reserve is nothing compared to the boost in the worldwide price of crude caused by this massive, mad purchase. While the Congressional audience didn’t even bother polite applause for the reserve purchase plan, there’s no doubt they were whooping it up in Saudi Arabia. Clearly, the state of the Saudi-Bush union is still pretty good."

Bush oil reserve may support prices as Asia also buys

"George W. Bush's decision to double the emergency oil stockpile in the U.S. may help to stem a six- month slide in prices as China, India and South Korea also add to demand by bolstering their defenses against shortages."

No wonder The Dick was smirking when The Moron was speaking about energy conservation.

Pioneering US renewable energy lab is neglected

"The hopes for this neglected lab brightened a bit just over a year ago when President George W. Bush made the first presidential call on the lab since Carter. He spelled out a vision for the not-too-distant future in which solar and wind power would help run every American home and cars would operate on biofuels made from plant residues.

"But one year after the presidential visit, the money flowing into the primary national laboratory for developing renewable fuels is actually less than it was when the Bush Administration took office. The lab's fitful history reflects a basic truth: Americans may have a growing love affair with renewables, with cutting oil imports and conserving energy, but it's a fickle one."

McNerney calls on Bush to keep State of the Union promises

"'I am optimistic about the lofty cooperative goals the president laid out. Yet, at the same time, I know that the best predictor of the future is the past — and that gives me pause.'

"'In his last six State of the Union addresses, President Bush has addressed the need for a rational, comprehensive energy policy and the need to move toward greater energy independence. Yet America is now more dependent on foreign oil than when President Bush took office.'"

Energy rhetoric and reality

"For six years, off and on, President Bush has been talking about the need for alternative fuels and conservation to make the country less beholden to unreliable sources of foreign oil. Yet all he has to show for it is a growing dependence on foreign oil, a growing climate problem and an increasingly cynical public. Mr. Bush talked the same game on Tuesday night, offering several impressively specific goals. But whether these new pledges turn out to be as empty as the old ones depends on his capacity for follow-through, and history is not encouraging."

Bush speech terror claim debunked a year ago: Just one of many State of the Union lies, following in the tradition of the 2003 yellowcake fraud, Bush commits an impeachable offense by knowingly lying to the American people

"A claim made by President Bush in his State of the Union speech last night, that an attack on an L.A. skyscraper had been averted, was universally debunked as a hoax by Mayors, CIA, FBI and NSA personnel and counter-terror experts nearly a year ago when it first surfaced."

General: Bigger army will cost $70 billion

"Reversing previous administration thinking, President Bush said last month that he wants a larger military. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this month recommended that the Army’s troop strength be increased by 65,000 soldiers, to a total of 547,000 worldwide and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000. Almost half of that Army increase already has been achieved under a temporary program that Gates said would be made permanent; the full increase is to be achieved within five years."

Think of the mistakes and the carnage if The Moron and The Dick had a bigger military with which to expand their oil empire.

Straddling the new and the old

"HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL IGNORES COST AND COVERAGE ISSUES: Bush last night said he would propose offering a standard tax deduction for all who buy insurance, a step 'that would make only a tiny dent in a huge problem.' The initiative is aimed at rewarding people who buy their own health insurance in the individual market, consistent with the president's notion that 'private health insurance is the best way to meet' the needs of Americans who seek coverage. But for those who need health care the most -- including the 47 million uninsured in this country -- the private market fails to provide affordable coverage. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, people who aren’t in perfect health are largely unable to buy individual health insurance. The study found 'roughly 90 percent of applicants in what’s known as less-than-perfect health were unable to buy individual policies at standard rates, while 37 percent were rejected outright.' The president also proposed to throw the real work of providing health coverage to the uninsured to the states, through the Affordable Choices initiative. This states-based approach would give participating states new federal dollars to promote private coverage -- but would not support the proven approaches states use today to expand coverage through public programs."

Bush's health care conspiracy

"As I thought about the president’s speech Tuesday night, I imagined his handlers sitting together joking conspiratorially about how to twist the issues and help the president’s plummeting popularity. How could his handlers sneak through more support for his primary agenda, and that of right-wing fiscal conservatives, to decrease entitlements to Social Security and Medicare and transfer more of the people’s tax money into Wall Street—while couching this scheme in the language of 'health care for all?'"

New Orleans not part of Bush's speech

"New Orleans is still a mess and the pace of recovery across the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina's strike remains achingly slow after 17 months. But none of this captured President Bush's attention on the year's biggest night for showcasing policy priorities."

Bush's State of the Union speech highlights crisis of ruling elite

"However, the applause, backslapping and bathos that have become the norm for this annual political ritual could not mask the fact that the US political establishment is torn by deep divisions and bitter recriminations, with some of the sharpest opposition to Bush’s policies coming not from the newly empowered Democrats, but from members of his own party."

Raising America

"After 10 years stuck making $5.15 an hour, millions of Americans are ready for a raise. But some senators are not quite ready to give it to them. Yesterday, 47 Democrats, five Republicans, and two independents joined together as a bipartisan majority to push for a vote on a raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Eighty-three percent of the American public supports this increase. But unfortunately, the Senate fell six short of the votes needed to end debate and move on. It will now take up a bill pairing a minimum wage increase with tax breaks for small businesses, at the insistence of a small group of conservative senators. In the past 10 years, Congress has given small businesses $36 billion in tax breaks. It has given itself $31,600 in cost-of-living raises. Working Americans deserve their long overdue raise. Send a message to your senator voicing your support for a clean bill to increase the minimum wage."

It would seem the old Soviet stereotype of capitalists as pigs suppressing the poor could easily (and accurately) be applied to the GOP.

Childhood poverty comes at great cost to US economy

"Children who grow up poor in the United States cost the economy $500 billion a year because they are less productive, earn less money, commit more crimes and have more health-related expenses, according to a new study."

A powerful response: Jim Webb tore up his party's playbook -- and helped point the Democrats in a new direction

"Webb is seen as a moderate or even conservative Democrat, but this was a populist speech that quoted Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and champion of the common man. The speech represented a return to the tough-minded liberalism of Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey, but by quoting Republicans Teddy Roosevelt (on "improper corporate influence") and Dwight D. Eisenhower (on ending the Korean War), he reinforced the argument that President Bush had taken the GOP away from its roots."

A warning from Senator Webb: Democrat cites danger of deepening "class lines" in America

"The senator’s discussion of the economic conditions in the United States, however, went considerably beyond the pallid quasi-populist rhetoric normally employed by many Democrats. He spoke bluntly about the widening divide between rich and poor and the vast chasm that separates corporate CEOs from ordinary workers."

The American way of war

"Being a military thinker of the profoundest sort, I offer the following manual of martial affairs for nations yearning to copy the American way of war. Read it carefully. Great clarity will result. The steps limned below will facilitate disaster without imposing the burden of reinventing it. The Pentagon may print copies for distribution."

An example:

"(3) Explain the invasion to the American public in simple moral terms suitable for middle-school children at an evangelical summer camp: We are bombing cities to bring the gift of democracy and American values, or to defeat some vague but frightening evil, perhaps lurking under the bed, or to get rid of a bad dictator no longer of service to us, or to bring freedom and prosperity to any survivors. (This doesn’t work in Europe, which is honestly imperialistic.) The public can then feel a sense of unappreciated virtue when the primitives resist. Sententious moralism should always trump reason."

US invasion was "idiot decision" - Iraq vice president

"'The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was an 'idiot decision' and Iraqi troops now need to secure Baghdad to ensure the country's future, Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Thursday."

"Iraq was put under occupation, which was an idiot decision," Mahdi said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Idiots are as idiots do.

Strategic errors of monumental proportions: What can be done in Iraq?

"The role that US military forces can play in that conflict is seriously limited by all the political decisions the US government has already taken. The most fundamental decision was setting as its larger strategic purpose the stabilization of the region by building a democracy in Iraq and encouraging its spread. This, of course, was to risk destabilizing the region by starting a war."

The world agrees: Stop Bush before he kills again

"Stop him before he kills again. That is the judgment of the American people, and indeed of the entire world, as to the performance of our president, and no State of the Union address can erase that dismal verdict.

"President Bush has accomplished what Osama bin Laden only dreamed of by disgracing the model of American democracy in the eyes of the world. According to an exhaustive BBC poll, nearly three-quarters of those polled in 25 countries oppose the Bush policy on Iraq, and more than two-thirds believe the U.S. presence in the Middle East destabilizes the region."

Carl Bernstein: Bush has done 'far greater damage' than Nixon

"'In the current administration we have seen from the President down -- especially Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld -- a willingness to ignore the great constitutional history of the United States -- to suspend, really, many of the constitutional guarantees that have made us a nation apart, with real freedoms unknown elsewhere, unrestricted by short-term political objectives of our leaders.'"

Pentagon struggles to get safest vehicles for troops

"After nearly four years of war in Iraq, the Pentagon's effort to protect its troops against roadside bombs is in disarray, with soldiers and Marines having to swap access to scarce armored vehicles, and the military unsure whether it has the money or industrial capacity to produce the safe vehicles it says the troops need."

Retreat isn't an option by The Dick's straight daughter, Liz

"In fairness, Clinton, with her proposal for arbitrary caps on troop levels and hemming and hawing about her vote for the war resolution, has company on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is the only national Democrat showing any courage on this issue. We Republicans -- with help from senators such as Chuck Hagel -- seem ready to race the Democrats to the bottom."

I don't believe Ms. Cheney was yet born when The Dick was fully utilizing deferments to avoid serving in Viet Nam.

Who's helping the terrorists?

"So, if the Bush administration truly based its decisions on doing the opposite of what al-Qaeda wanted, it would immediately withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and let al-Qaeda in Iraq either disintegrate or get decimated by angry Iraqis who would no longer find al-Qaeda’s anti-American brutality particularly useful.

"But Bush and fellow hard-liners, like Liz Cheney, are selective in deciding when Americans should heed the words of al-Qaeda and do the opposite, i.e. only when that matches what the administration wants to do in the first place."

Bush twins in no hurry to defend US

"When last seen, the Bush twins were partying in Argentina, not rushing to enlist. Evidently they're not among the 'extraordinary men and women willing to step forward and defend us.' Is it because they don't need the enlistment bonuses? Or perhaps their lives are more valuable than those their father is squandering in Iraq?"

US helicopters strike high-rises in Baghdad battle

"U.S. helicopters attacked gunmen holed up inside high-rise buildings in Baghdad on Wednesday in what the U.S. military said was an operation to regain control of a major street cutting through the heart of the city."

Cheer up, Iraqis. American rockets will be coming to a street near you.

Battle for Baghdad: City braces itself for US surge

"Lina Massufi, a 32-year-old Iraqi laboratory assistant with two children, is a widow - her husband was killed by US troops when he accidentally drove down a closed road in 2003. In the past three months she has seen her house raided and her furniture smashed 12 times.

"'Every time they raid my house, they break down the door,' she told a UN official. When she asked them why they did not ring the bell "they laughed at me and called me an idiot". Her brother Fae'ek, a pharmacy student, was arrested and held in prison for a week. 'He returned with signs of torture on his body, and was crying like a baby because of the pain.'"

It has unraveled so quickly

"The moderates are mostly gone. My phone includes at least a dozen entries for middle-class families who have given up and moved away. They were supposed to build democracy here. Instead they work odd jobs in Syria and Jordan. Even the moderate political leaders have left. I have three numbers for Adnan Pachachi, the distinguished Iraqi statesman; none have Iraqi country codes.

"Neighborhoods I used to visit a year ago with my armed guards and my black abaya are off limits. Most were Sunni and had been merely dangerous. Now they are dead. A neighborhood that used to be Baghdad’s Upper East Side has the dilapidated, broken feel of a city just hit by a hurricane."

Chevron holds talks with Iraq to build facility

"Iraq is in negotiations with San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to build a new $3 billion petrochemical facility, and is in talks with several other Western companies over industrial projects.

"In an interview Thursday, Fowzi Hariri, Iraq's minister for industry and minerals, said the discussions with Chevron and Exxon began this week in Washington and are at an early stage."

Since BushCo is going to profit immensely from the war, shouldn't Chevron et al be required to rebuild Iraq before it pockets any money in the blood for oil program?

Why the 'big push' sounds horribly familiar

"Like the Big Push of the Somme, the Big Push in Iraq is a reapplication of tactics that have already proved a calamitous failure. As the outspoken retired US Army Lieutenant-General William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, puts it, it's like finding yourself in a hole and then digging deeper."

Rocket blast shakes US embassy in Iraq

"A rocket was fired into the international Green Zone in Baghdad on Saturday and a witness said it appeared to have landed in the U.S. embassy grounds.

"U.S. embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said a rocket landed in a sparsely populated area of the Green Zone and that two people were slightly wounded. He said he could not confirm that it landed within the U.S. embassy compound." . . . . "A double rocket attack on the Green Zone wounded six people earlier this week. The area, which stretches over several square kilometres (miles) houses Iraqi government offices, embassies and other foreign facilities."

A fool's errand in Baghdad

"The real purpose of the surge is to pacify Baghdad in order to rebuild confidence among the supporters of the war. Bush needs to prove that he can restore security so the oil giants can make their move and begin developing the world’s second largest reserves of petroleum. In a matter of weeks, the al-Maliki government will pass the new hydrocarbon laws which will "issue tenders and signing contracts" to the major American oil companies. This will allow the looting of Iraq’s oil under internationally-recognized legal agreements. But if the fighting persists, it’ll all be for nothing. No one is going to invest capital to develop oil fields if the country is in the throes of a civil war. So Bush needs to put more boots on the ground and make one last-ditch effort to crush the resistance. And, he needs to do it fast.

"It’s clearly an act of desperation and few believe he’ll be able to succeed. In fact, last week, a number of retired generals appeared before a senate sub-committee on Capital Hill and blasted the strategy as shortsighted and ill conceived. Marine General Joseph Hoar growled that, 'The addition of 21,000 troops is too little too late…It won’t work… (The administration has shown) a shocking failure to understand the social and political forces that influence events in the Middle East.'"

Escalation of US Iran military planning part of six-year administration push

"The motivations for an Iran strike were laid out as far back as 1992. In classified defense planning guidance – written for then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney by then-Pentagon staffers I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, World Bank Chief Paul Wolfowitz, and ambassador-nominee to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad – Cheney’s aides called for the United States to assume the position of lone superpower and act preemptively to prevent the emergence of even regional competitors. The draft document was leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post and caused an uproar among Democrats and many in George H. W. Bush’s Administration."

Debunking the escalation myth

"Nearly seventy percent of Americans oppose President Bush's escalation plan, as do top military leaders, Bush's staunchest international ally, and the Iraq Study Group. After four years in the shadows, Congress has begun to use its power as a co-equal branch of government to do something about the administration's failed policies in Iraq. On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution condemning Bush's escalation strategy. 'It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq,' the resolution said, 'particularly by escalating the United States military force presence.' The Senate will debate this measure along with several others next week, and a 'vote could come as early as the week of Feb. 5.' Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who strongly opposes escalation, explained why a healthy debate on the issue is crucial: "' think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this. What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think?' Americans are mobilizing against the President's plan. A protest rally has been planned for this weekend in Washington, D.C., while other groups such as Americans Against Escalation in Iraq plan to lobby members of Congress 'who have spoken out against the war, but who have so far declined to pledge support for a resolution denouncing Bush's plan to increase the number of troops.' In response, the White House and others have put out several myths they think will win support for their plan. The Progress Report debunks the right wing's talking points:"

Military surplus parts illegally find their way to Iran, US officials say

"Fighter-jet parts and other sensitive U.S. military gear seized from front companies for Iran and brokers for China have been traced in criminal cases to a surprising source: the Pentagon.
"In one case, federal investigators said, contraband purchased in Defense Department surplus auctions was delivered to Iran, a country President Bush has branded part of an 'axis of evil.'"
Another version of last week's story about BushCo making money playing both sides. If you recall, Cheney-led Halliburton was trading with Iraq when it was illegal to do so.

Radar love: Robbing the cradle to pay war profiteers [Blair] by Chris Floyd

"In other words, public money earmarked to help lift Tanzania's children out of poverty was instead laundered into the coffers of BAE and Barclays, with Tony Blair acting as bagman. Again, Blair had to override the objections of his own cabinet - and protests from the World Bank, which rarely sees a sweetheart deal for Western interests it doesn't like - in order to foist an extravagant, useless white elephant on the people of Tanzania. In that nation, as the Guardian notes, 'life expectancy is only 43 years, the poorest third of the population live on less than a dollar a day, and 45 percent of public spending is provided by Western donors.'

"'[Blair] insisted on letting this go ahead, when it stank,' former cabinet minister Clare Short told the Guardian. 'It was always obvious that this useless project was corrupt.' Short, who resigned from the cabinet in protest after the invasion of Iraq, said that Chancellor Gordon Brown, who will almost certainly become prime minister this year, had also opposed the sale. But Blair had forced through the license for the deal, she said. When BAE calls, Tony comes running."

Bush and Blair, cockroaches in arms.

Blair told to resign before bringing ignominy on himself

"Britain's top-selling broadsheet newspaper Saturday called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign now for his own as well as the country's sake.

"'The Prime Minister's white-knuckle (nervous) grip on office is damaging his country, his party, his eventual successor and, perhaps most of all, his own reputation,' the Daily Telegraph said.

"'Nothing will improve so long as the current hiatus lasts,' the daily said, referring to the latest furore over the country's prison crisis to hit his government's record."

Bringing ignominy? It has already been brought.
Scant evidence found of Iran-Iraq arms link

"For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol."

US under secretary of state: We won't allow nuclear Iran

"The US under-secretary added that his country 'is not seeking, at all, a confrontation with Iran,' but said that 'the policy of the United States is that we cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear weapons state.' His declaration was met with applause among the delegates attending the conference [Israel]."

But we will illegally sell Iran armaments under the table, he failed to add.

On Iran, Bush faces haunting echoes of Iraq

"This time, they insist, it is different.

“'We’re not looking for a fight with Iran,' R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for policy and the chief negotiator on Iranian issues, said in an interview on Friday evening, just a few hours after Mr. Bush had repeated his warnings to Iran to halt 'killing our soldiers' and to stop its drive for nuclear fuel.

"Mr. Burns, citing the president’s words, insisted that Washington was committed to 'a diplomatic path' — even as it executed a far more aggressive strategy, seizing Iranians in Iraq and attempting to starve Iran of the money it needs to revitalize a precious asset, its oil industry."

ElBaradei warns on Iran nuclear facilities attack

"The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency, in an indirect warning to the United States and Israel, said Thursday a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would have 'catastrophic' consequences and only strengthen Tehran’s resolve to make atomic arms."

"Bring 'em on," say The Moron and The Dick. "We're eager to spill the blood of other people for our oil."

Nuclear plans in chaos as Iran leader flounders

"Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.

"Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes."

US troops authorized to kill Iranians in Iraq

"The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort."

A hint of what's to come in the US re: those who oppose the Fourth Reich?

Death and dishonor: Bush's new assassination order by Chris Floyd

"The real story here is the story behind the story. After all, George W. Bush has already authorized his agents to kill American citizens -- without arrest, charge, trial, or even any warning -- if the victim has been designated -- arbitrarily, at the whim of the 'Leader,' outside any judicial process or oversight -- as an 'enemy combatant.' This 'authority,' claimed by Bush in October 2001 (I first wrote about it in print in November 2001) extends to every person on earth, not just Americans, so Iranian 'agents' or 'Revolutionary Guards' or anyone else Bush or his minions decide to kill has always been fair game. The only new wrinkle here is the specific authority given to the U.S. military to carry out these 'extrajudicial' assassinations -- a license to kill that had hitherto been reserved for the security organs."

Have no doubt, this is Viet Nam to the nth power. Unless they're stopped, it will happen here, probably is happening here.

Stop the Iran war before it starts

"If I were to address a Democrat Theme Team equivalent, I would focus my effort on trying to impress them with the issue that will cost them political power down the road. This issue is Iran. While President Bush, a Republican, remains Commander in Chief, a Democrat-controlled Congress shares responsibility on war and peace from this point on. The conflict in Iraq, although ongoing, is a product of the Republican-controlled past. The looming conflict with Iran, however, will be assessed as a product of a Democrat-controlled present and future. If Iraq destroyed the Republican Party, Iran will destroy the Democrats.

"I would strongly urge Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to hold real hearings on Iran. Not the mealy-mouthed Joe Biden-led hearings we witnessed on Iraq in July-August 2002, where he and his colleagues rubber-stamped the President's case for war, but genuine hearings that draw on all the lessons of Congressional failures when it came to Iraq. Summon all the President's men (and women), and grill them on every phrase and word uttered about the Iranian 'threat,' especially as it has been linked to nuclear weapons. Demand facts to back up the rhetoric."

The empire turns its guns on the citizenry

"In recent years American police forces have called out SWAT teams 40,000 or more times annually. Last year did you read in your newspaper or hear on TV news of 110 hostage or terrorist events each day? No. What then were the SWAT teams doing? They were serving routine warrants to people who posed no danger to the police or to the public."

81-year-old liberals now terror threat

"Unlike most Americans, Dan Tilli got a visit from the Secret Service after writing a letter bashing President Bush. The letter was published in Monday's Express-Times and concluded with the line: 'I still believe they hanged the wrong man.' I'd assume he was saying they (the Iraqis?) should have hung Osama Bin Laden instead, but the Secret Service agents decided to drive 60 miles from Philly to Easton to check out if he was thinking about hurting President Bush."

Rockefeller says he may subpeona documents on spying

"Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller said he may subpoena Bush administration documents on its controversial domestic surveillance program.

"Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, vowed he'll get details on a secret court's approvals of the program that targets suspected al-Qaeda members in the U.S."

Election staff convicted in recount rig

"Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio's most populous county.

"Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty."

The Moron will likely give both of them Medals of Freedom.

Scalia on Bush v. Gore: 'It's water over the deck . . . get over it'

"Several Supreme Court Justices have recently defended their intervention in the Bush v. Gore case that handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000. Sitting Justice Antonin Scalia responded to critics of the decision by telling them to 'get over it,' according to the report by the Associated Press."

The analogy must be lost on Antonin. When there's water over the deck, the ship often sinks, making it hard to get over the experience. Perhaps he is as medicated as was his now deceased colleague, Rehnquist (for 10 years).

Interior's failure to act on royalty mistake 'a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling'

"More than 1,000 leases signed in 1998 and 1999 were inked without the clause that requires companies to pay royalties for oil drilled on federal land. The omission of this requirement, called a price threshold, could cost the federal government as much as $10 billion over 25 years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

"Johnnie Burton, director of the Minerals Management Service, which oversees the drilling leases, testified before Congress last fall that she’d only recently found out the price thresholds were left out. But the inspector general’s investigation concluded Burton knew about the mistake as early as 2004."

Kerr-McGee is found liable in lawsuit over oil royalties

"A federal jury in Denver agreed Tuesday with a former top auditor for the Interior Department that the Kerr-McGee Corporation had cheated the government out of millions of dollars in royalties on oil it produced in publicly owned coastal waters."

Big Oil gets to keep its loot

"Championed by disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the oil and gas subsidy was slipped late one night into the massive Energy Policy Act of 2005 after a House-Senate conference committee had completed its deliberations on the bill. The conferees thus had no chance to consider the provision before it reached the House and Senate floor. Though this is not the first time we have seen a corporate giveaway stealthily inserted into a bill in the early hours of the morning, it is a striking example of how taxpayers get bilked by corporations and Congress."

Rev. Moon's anti-Obama agit-prop

"If you’ve ever wondered how agit-propaganda works, you might take a look at the latest case study from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s media empire – a bogus story about Barack Obama attending a Muslim 'madrassah' when he was six years old, a smear that was then attributed to operatives of Hillary Clinton." . . . .

"Moon’s media empire has planted similar stories in other U.S. presidential campaigns, publishing false or exaggerated stories that disparaged Democratic candidates and helped Moon’s political favorites – particularly in the Bush family."

Former CIA official testifies against Libby

"A high-ranking former CIA official testified today that he told I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby in June 2003 that the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV worked for the CIA, after an 'aggrieved' Libby called seeking information about Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Africa.

"Robert L. Grenier, a former CIA associate deputy director, became the second prosecution witness at Libby's perjury trial to say he had disclosed information about CIA officer Valerie Plame to Libby weeks before Libby claims he learned her identity from a journalist."

Senate Intelligence chairman quietly 'fixed' intelligence and diverted blame from White House over Iraq

"Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush issued an order to the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, and his cabinet members that severely curtailed intelligence oversight by restricting classified information to just eight members of Congress."

It would appear that a democratic, open government administered by honest men and women is in order.

Cheney held up Iraq, senator says

"Vice President Dick Cheney exerted 'constant' pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, the panel's Democratic chairman charged Thursday.

"In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia also accused President Bush of running an illegal program by ordering eavesdropping on Americans' international e-mails and telephone communications without court-issued warrants.

"In the 45-minute interview, Rockefeller said that it was ''not hearsay'' that Cheney, a leading proponent of invading Iraq, pushed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to drag out the probe of the administration's use of prewar intelligence."

Hogwash, says The Dick.

Gulf states seen shifting away from US assets

"Oil-rich Gulf Arab estates are seen shifting their assets away from the United States, and Qatar is keen on customer states including Asia and Europe as destination, the country's financial regulator says.

"Middle Eastern countries have been scaling back its once near full reliance on U.S. assets in recent years to minimize risks and enhance returns as they diversify the massive windfall from oil and gas revenues."

The Dick and The Moron have pooped in their hats and are about to put them on. Too bad we'll have to share the experience.

Existing home sales plummet in 2006

"Sales of existing homes fell in December, closing out a year in which demand for homes slumped by the largest amount in 17 years.

"The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes were down 0.8 percent last month, a bigger decline than had been expected. For the year, sales fell by 8.4 percent, the biggest annual decline since 1989, when existing home sales fell by 14.8 percent."

1989? Who was the leader? Ah, yes, Moron, Sr. Remember those prescient 2000 and 2004 bumper stickers "Stay Out of the Bushes"?

Foreclosure rates up big in December

"Americans continue having difficulties paying their mortgage obligations, with December foreclosure rates above the 100,000 mark for the fifth straight month.

"The number of homeowners entering into some stage of the foreclosure process in December was 109,652, down 9 percent from November but up 35 percent from December 2005, according to RealtyTrac."

Ford posts loss of $5.8 billion, worst since '92

"The Ford Motor Company reported its worst financial results in more than 14 years Monday and warned that its business was likely to worsen further in the months ahead, as it and other Detroit auto companies struggle to reinvent themselves."

1992? Who was the lea . . . never mind.

Quotes from www.bartcop.com and others:

"Bush is right. Everyone deserves a seventh chance." -- Jon Stewart, on Bush asking us to give his latest Iraq strategy a chance

"I don’t support the President’s surge plan. Bush’s plan is not tied to a specific strategy and will only needlessly endanger more soldiers." -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Link

"The Senate should step back for a moment and give you [Gen. Petraeus] a chance... Perhaps a last chance, to succeeed in Iraq. If God forbid, you are unable to succeed, then there will be plenty of time for the resolutions of disapproval or the other alternatives that have been contemplated." -- Joe let-the-soldiers-die Lieberman, Link

"Bush has the lowest presidential approval rating since Nixon. Here's another coincidence. Nixon had a dog named 'Checkers.' Bush plays checkers with his dog" -- David Letterman

"I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash." -- Cheney, asked about the 'blunders and failures' in Iraq by Wolf the whore Link

"In the case George W. Bush, the American system has obviously failed -- tragically. Imagine the difference in our worldview today, had the institutions -- particularly of government -- done their job to insure that a mendacious and dangerous president (as has since been proven many times over-beyond mere assertion) be restrained in a war that has killed thousands of American soldiers, brought turmoil to the lives of millions, and constrained the goodwill towards the United States in much of the world." -- Carl Bernstein, the non-whore half of the Woodward/Bernstein team, Link

"White House Correspondents are gerbils on spin-wheels." -- Eric Alterman, telling the truth Link

"Everyone knows the vice president doesn't know what he's talking about. I can't be more blunt than that. He is yet to be right one single time on Iraq." -- Sen. Joseph Biden, talking like he has a pair, Link

"The party that I first voted for on top of a tank in Mekong Delta 1968 is not the party I see today. I want every member of the Senate to have to take a position on this. We have kids dying every day." -- Sen. Chuck Hagel, the sane Republican, Link

"The longer Bush is in office, the more his psychology becomes clear. He's not a well-meaning doofus; he's a madman." -- Jane Smiley, Link

"Global warming is most media-hyped environmental issue of all time." -- Jim Inhofe (R-Pissquik) epw.senate.gov


A guy is driving around Washington, D.C., when he notices a sign in front of a house:

"Talking Dog for Sale"

He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador sitting there.

“You talk?" he asks.

"Yes," the Lab replies.

"So, what's the story?"

The Lab looks up and says:

"Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running."

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a load of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the man says.

"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's a liar. He never did any of that shit. He used to belong to Bush, and now he can’t tell the truth."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friday Night Films

Friday night was movie night. We went out with friends to see Pan's Labyrinth and followed it up with a reprise viewing of the 1972 film, The Ruling Class with Peter O' Toole. While separated by 35 years, I found the two films had much in common, they both dealt with evil as an accepted social norm.

I was wondering if The Ruling Class would hold up over the years, because I've often thought of it as one my favorite all time films. And while it is a bit stagy, being based upon a British play by the same name, it held up rather well for me. There was a bit of a drag here and there, but the transformation of Jack, the 14th earl of Gurney, from addled flower child/Christ figure into something more socially acceptable (and madder than the first Gurney version) was still worth experiencing. It speaks to our times.

Pan's Labyrinth, a fantasy inspired Spanish film, is definitely not suitable for children. Some scenes were too difficult for me to look at. Set in fascist Spain after the Spanish Civil War and before the end of WWII, it deals with a brief period in the lives of the family of a Captain Vidal, a sadistic man assigned to command an outpost to defend against guerilla activities.

What struck me about viewing the two films back to back is that Jack Gurney, the socially reformed and respected Jack Gurney, and Captain Vidal shared much in common. They were both mad, cruel products of their environments. And both had similar adversaries, the majority of the people in their respective countries with the demonizing identifier being Reds, socialists, commies, Bolsheviks. The people, in both films, had to be controlled by fear and punishment.

My bible on the subject of evil, The Heart of Man by Erich Fromm, has a related passage where Fromm cites a Spanish philosopher Unamuno, who confronts a Spanish fascist, General Millan Astray, at a university in 1936. Apparently, the General's favorite motto was "Viva la muerte." Having expressed his motto in a speech, a student, in support, repeated it loudly from the back of the hall. Unamuno responded, "' . . . Just now I heard a necrophilous and senseless cry: 'Long live death!' And I, who have spent my life shaping paradoxes which have aroused the uncomprehending anger of others, I must tell you, as an expert authority, that this outlandish paradox is repellant to me. General Millan Astray is a cripple. Let it be said without a slighting undertone. He is a war invalid. So was Cervantes. Unfortunately, there are too many cripples in Spain just now. And soon there will be even more of them if God doesn't come to our aid. It pains me to think that General Millan Astray should dictate the pattern of mass psychology. A cripple who lacks the spiritual greatness of a Cervantes is wont to seek ominous relief in causing mutilation around him.' At this Millan Astray was unable to restrain himself any longer. 'Abajo la inteligencia!' (Down with intelligence!) he shouted. 'Long live death!' There was a clamor of support for this remark from the Falangists. But Unamuno went on: 'This is the temple of the intellect. And I am its high priest. It is you who profane its sacred precincts. You will win, because you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you will need what you lack: Reason and Right in the struggle. I consider it futile to exhort you to think of Spain. I have done.'"

You might ask what happened to Unamuno. In a footnote, Fromm says, "Unamuno remained under house arrest until his death a few months later." Spain apparently had no Gitmo at the time or rendition agreements with other countries.

Picks of the Week:

House Democrats beat 100-hour clock

"From noon, Jan. 4, when the 110th Congress opened, the House had been in session 87 hours when, shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, it passed the last of the 'Six for '06' bills that Democrats promised to deliver within 100 hours of assuming power."

US Congressional leader shaking up House fiefdom to draft global warming proposal

"Putting power in the hands of members who are more active on environmental problems, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is creating a special committee to recommend legislation to cut greenhouse gases. It probably will be chaired by Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, an aide to party House leaders said Wednesday."

Bills on climate move to spotlight in new Congress

"Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate but quixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats are increasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White House and impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that most smokestack industries have long opposed."

Climate resets 'Doomsday Clock'

"Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind." . . . .

"Not since the darkest days of the Cold War has the Bulletin, which covers global security issues, felt the need to place the minute hand so close to midnight."

Bush to address global warming in annual speech

"President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday.

"'It's not accurate. It's wrong,' White House spokesman Tony Snow said regarding media reports suggesting that Bush would agree to mandatory emissions caps in an effort to combat global warming. Such caps could require energy conservation and pollution curbs."

The Moron to the rest of creation, "Go f**k yourself!"

Cutbacks impede climate studies

"The two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences, released yesterday, determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, has experienced enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission."

National sanctity of human life day, 2007

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 21, 2007, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being."

The Evil Moron is likely unaware of the myriad disconnects this represents.

Al Gore says US states may force change in climate policy

''Even though the national policy in the U.S. has not yet changed, many state governments have now embraced the goals of the Kyoto Protocol,' Gore said at a speech to Japanese business leaders in Tokyo today. 'One remaining step to change U.S. policy, and in the process, change the posture of the world, is solidifying this change in the U.S. business community.'''

War of shadows

"The plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq will be accompanied by a subtle, but disastrous, change in the way the war is fought—a change that will almost assuredly increase the monthly tallies of American dead and wounded. The president warned that 'deadly acts of violence will continue, and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties.' In his version of the war, these losses will allow us to climb from the sinkhole we have dug for ourselves to the sunlight of victory. Unfortunately, for Iraqis and for us, what the president proposes is a mistake of catastrophic proportions. It defies basic counterinsurgency doctrine and will leave American troops more vulnerable, more exposed and in greater danger in this war of shadows."

On Tuesday, C-Span carried a presentation by George McGovern and William Polk, discussing their book, Out of Iraq. Their views match those of this author, Chris Hedges.

An impartial interrogation of George W. Bush by George McGovern

"Mr. President, Sir, when reporter Bob Woodward asked you if you had consulted with your father before ordering our army into Iraq you said, 'No, he's not the father you call on a decision like this. I talked to my heavenly Father above.' My question, Mr. President: If God asked you to bombard, invade and occupy Iraq for four years, why did he send an opposite message to the Pope? Did you not know that your father, George Bush, Sr., his Secretary of State James Baker and his National Security Advisor General Scowcroft were all opposed to your invasion? Wouldn't you, our troops, the American people and the Iraqis all be much better off if you had listened to your more experienced elders including your earthly father? Instead of blaming God for the awful catastrophe you have unleashed in Iraq, wouldn't it have been less self-righteous if you had fallen back on the oft-quoted explanation of wrongdoing, 'The devil made me do it?'"

Framing death, and democracy by George Lakoff

"The first duty of Congress is to be Congress, to provide a check on the executive through the power to hold hearings, write legislation, and tighten the purse strings. The central issue raised by the president's speech last Wednesday is not whether Iraq will have a democracy, but whether we will.".

Iraq: Disease alert after sewage system collapses

'As the sewage system has collapsed, all residents are threatened with gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis. In some of Baghdad's poor neighbourhoods, people drink water which is mixed with sewage,' Ali said.

"He added that the health ministry was prepared for an initial outbreak of diseases, but expressed concern that unless the municipality could deal with the sewage problem quickly and effectively, health problems would inevitably escalate."

Let's see, Halliburton, et al, were charged with rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure and profited greatly for their failure to do so. Now, The Moron says that billions (taxpayer dollars) will now be set aside to do what was supposed to be done. Wouldn't it seem reasonable for the errant contractors to complete what they've been paid for , or return the money to the US treasury? Of course, Iraqis should apologize to Bush for being ungrateful.

The battle to save Iraq's children

"Doctors issue plea to Tony Blair to end the scandal of medical shortages in the war zone."

Here's a modest proposal, stop the war that's harming and killing Iraq's children.

Those ingrate Iraqis

"Anyway, that's not all we've done for Iraq. We also introduced the Iraqis to basic principles of energy conservation. Before the U.S. invasion, the feckless residents of Baghdad used 16 to 24 hours of electricity each day. Today, thanks to us, they thriftily make do with about six hours of electricity a day. Under our tutelage, the Iraqis are also conserving fossil fuels: Oil production is still well below prewar levels! And — recognizing that auto emissions are a major contributor to global warming — a symbolically important number of Iraqis has gone from driving their cars to detonating their cars. Now that's dedication."

William Polk, a direct descendent of James Polk and co-author of Out of Iraq with George MvGovern, said on Tuesday that he once lived in Baghdad and found the people the kindest he had ever met. Now, however, because of the war, he said he's likely be killed if he were to try to live there.

The irrelevance of military victory

"Astonishingly, American taxpayers now will be forced to finance a multi-billion-dollar jobs program in Iraq. Suddenly the war is about jobs! We export our manufacturing jobs to Asia, and now we plan to export our welfare jobs to Iraq – all at the expense of the poor and middle class here at home."

You owe us, Bush says

"In amongst admitting that maybe they’d made a few mistakes in Iraq, President Bush also dropped this assessment of his country’s efforts in Iraq: '(The) Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.'

"Mmmmm. CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon probably wasn’t aware of Mr Bush’s comment when she posted this story on the CNN blog In the Field: 'Baghdad is dying, we are all just waiting in line.' Khaled—not his real name to protect his life—one of our Iraqi employees, said the words softy, his eyes glossing over."

Iraq edges closer to Iran, with or without the US

"Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in Irbil in northern Iraq last week, said Monday that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, also said the government planned to negotiate more border entry points with Iran."

Iran gets army gear in Pentagon sale

"The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries - including Iran and China - who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions. The sales include fighter jet parts and missile components."

Meanwhile, TSA rednecks are giddy watching x-rays of harassed airline travelers made nude. Homeland Security! It is to laugh.

Russian missiles delivered to Iran: Ivanov

"Russia has delivered new anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran and will consider further requests by Tehran for defensive weapons, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday."

Russian admiral says US Navy prepares missile strike on Iran

"U.S. Navy nuclear submarines maintaining vigil off the coast of Iran indicate that the Pentagon’s military plans include not only control over navigation in the Persian Gulf but also strikes against Iranian targets, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin has told the Interfax news agency."

Presidential; candidate fears "Gulf of Tonkin" to provoke Iran war

"Republican Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul fears a staged Gulf of Tonkin style incident may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years."

Neocons blocked 2003 nuclear talks with Iran

"The George W. Bush administration failed to enter into negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program in May 2003 because neoconservative zealots who advocated destabilization and regime change were able to block any serious diplomatic engagement with Tehran, according to former administration officials."

Simplify, then exaggerate: the neo-cons' route to disaster

"President George W. Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq demonstrates the remarkable durability of neo-conservative foreign policy. Just a couple of months ago, the neo-cons were being written off. The Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq was advertised as signalling the triumphant return of the 'grown-ups' and the 'reality-based community'. But the president chose to ignore Baker-Hamilton, reportedly dismissing the document as a 'flaming turd'.

"Instead he turned for succour and advice to his old neo-con allies. The 'surge' idea was developed and promoted at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank that has long served as neo-con central. The neo-cons, like President Bush, are getting another throw of the dice in Iraq."

As Bush's war strategy shifts to Iran, Christian Zionists gear up for the apocalypse

"As George W. Bush sets his sights on Iran, even Republicans are wondering how to constitutionally contain the trigger-happy king. But for an influential group of Christian fundamentalists -- White House allies that garner not only feel-good meetings with the President's liaisons to the 'faith-based' community but also serious discussions with Bush's national security staff -- an attack on Iran is just what God ordered."

Busywork for nuclear scientists

"The Bush administration is eager to start work on a new nuclear warhead with all sorts of admirable qualities: sturdy, reliable and secure from terrorists. To sweeten the deal, officials say that if they can replace the current arsenal with Reliable Replacement Warheads (what could sound more comforting?), they probably won’t have to keep so many extra warheads to hedge against technical failure. If you’re still not sold, the warhead comes with something of a guarantee — that scientists can build the new bombs without ever testing them.

"Let the buyer beware. While the program has gotten very little attention here, it is a public-relations disaster in the making overseas. Suspicions that the United States is actually trying to build up its nuclear capabilities are undercutting Washington’s arguments for restraining the nuclear appetites of Iran and North Korea."

The second looting of New Orleans

"Research backs up the anecdotal reports. A January 2006 article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy argued that the amount given to post-Katrina New Orleans was 'small-potato giving for America's foundations, which collectively have $500-billion in assets.' The article also asserted, 'just as deplorable as the small sums poured into the region are the choices foundations have made about where the money should go.' In other words, very little of the money had gone to organizations directed by or accountable to New Orleanians. One prominent New Orleans-born advocate and lobbyist called this phenomenon the 'Halliburtization of the nonprofit sector.'"

Iraq, New Orleans, it's all the same ot the Bush Crime Family . . . looting opportunities.

Giving away the store

"Bush administration officials are ignoring the law and giving away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to oil companies that are already swimming in cash. When oil companies drill on federal land and in coastal waters, they owe royalties to the federal government. The payments are the country's second-largest source of income, right behind taxes. However, the New York Times reports, "An eight-month investigation by the Interior Department’s chief watchdog has found pervasive problems in the government’s program for ensuring that companies pay the royalties they owe on billions of dollars of oil and gas pumped on federal land and in coastal waters." According to the report, 'the agency’s data are often inaccurate, that its officials rely too heavily on statements by oil companies rather than actual records and that only about 9 percent of all oil and gas leases are being reviewed.' As a result, billions of dollars that could be invested in the development of clean, renewable forms of energy are instead being used to subsidize outrageous compensation packages for oil company executives. Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney told Congress 'Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.' Join the effort to get the Bush administration to stop giving away your money."

But wait, there's more! On Monday, Randi Rhodes said that the purpose of permanent US troops in Iraq is to secure and protect the oil for the oil companies. Big oil will make the big bucks and US taxpayers will pay for their ability to do so. Life is very good for BushCo and hard cheese for the rest of us.

Big change, not big oil

"The disastrous effects of the energy policy written for Big Oil by Big Oil came home to roost last year. While American families had to cope with skyrocketing energy costs, oil companies raked in record profits—due in no small measure to the generous giveaways engineered by the president and his friends in Congress. The first step toward an energy policy need and deserve is to roll back these billions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies for outdated energy industries, and to redirect the money to programs that benefit American jobs and families, help end our dangerous oil dependence and put us on the path toward real energy security. Fortunately, on Thursday the new Congress is poised to take just such an action."

US comptroller says US taxes would have to double to pay for Bush budget in 2040

"'The picture I will lay out for you today is not a pretty one and it’s getting worse with the passage of time,' said David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, in a Thursday morning hearing of the Senate's Budget Committee. 'Continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and our national security,' he warned."

Is energo-fascism in your future? (Scroll down)

"Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today."

VP tells America to expect 40 years of war

"In what may qualify as the most depressing sound bite to ever come out the White House, Dick Cheney is bracing the nation for a conflict that may span generations. 'It (Iraq) is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years. We have to prevail and we have to have the stomach for the fight long term,' he said on a Jan.14 FOX NEWS interview. One has to wonder if Cheney's view has anything to do with his $33 million "golden parachute" retirement plan from Halliburton — a company making billions on the war -which he is set to receive yearly in up to $1 million installments. What is most intriguing about this entire story is the fact that Cheney never served in the armed forces himself. He is on record as saying that he was generally supportive of the Vietnam War and opposed to the demonstrators. But this didn't lead him to volunteer; instead he latched onto student deferments which allowed him to coast his way through the war. All Cheney has said is, 'As did most other Americans, I watched the war (Vietnam) from afar.'"

Iraqis will never accept this sellout to the oil corporations: The US-controlled Iraqi government is preparing to remove the country's most precious resource from national control

"The US, the IMF and their allies are using fear to pursue their agenda of privatising and selling off Iraq's oil resources. The effect of this law will be to marginalise Iraq's oil industry and undermine the nationalisation measures undertaken between 1972 and 1975. It is designed as a reversal of Law Number 80 of December 1961 that recovered most of Iraq's oil from a foreign cartel. Iraq paid dearly for that courageous move: the then prime minister, General Qasim, was murdered 13 months later in a Ba'athist-led coup that was supported by many of those who are part of the current ruling alliance - the US included. Nevertheless, the national oil policy was not reversed then, and its reversal under US occupation will never be accepted by Iraqis."

House rolls back oil company sunsidies

"The House rolled back billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies Thursday in what supporters hailed as a new direction in energy policy toward more renewable fuels. Critics said the action would reduce domestic oil production and increase reliance on imports."
When will this nightmare end?

"Brzezinski is right; Bush’s plan is just a gimmick that has no chance of succeeding and is likely to make matters worse. 17,500 soldiers aren’t enough to "clear and secure entire neighborhoods" as Bush suggests. The only purpose they might serve is to conduct massive sweeps through Sunni neighborhoods terrorizing the local people and displacing larger segments of the population. "That appears to be the real objective of Bush’s 'Choosing Victory' strategy; another major crackdown employing air and ground forces to ethnically cleanse the main Sunnis neighborhoods. The promise of 'security' is just a diversion."

End Iraq war, service members tell Congress

"The letter contains just three sentences: 'As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.'”

White House propaganda campaign: Bush, Cheney smear opponents of US war in Iraq

"As they reiterated their plans for expanding the war, Bush and Cheney expressed the outlook—a hallmark of dictatorship, not democracy—that the government has the right to defy the expressed will of the people on the most serious of political issues, a war in which thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have already died."

McClatchy report: Are Americans getting truth on Iraq? [Short analysis: Are The Moron's and The Dick's lips moving?]

"President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq."

"The fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world": Iraq's refugee nightmare

"All told, nearly 4 million people out of a prewar population of 26 million have become either refugees or internally displaced. Almost one out of every six Iraqis has fled their homes since the US invaded in 2003. 'The current exodus,' according to the UNHCR, 'is the largest long-term population movement since the displacement of the Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.'"

Give us guns - and troops can go, says Iraqi leader

"America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

"Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could 'dramatically' cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times."

200,000 AK47s bound for Iraq go missing (Last year)

"SOME 200,000 guns the US sent to Iraqi security forces may have been smuggled to terrorists, it was feared yesterday."The 99-tonne cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four planeloads of arms have vanished."

You may remember this story. Someone in BushCo made about $1.6M on this deal . . . pocket change.

Pyongyang: 'CIA is printing supernotes; America blaming us'

"Pyongyang: A recent report suggesting that the United States is a center for the global counterfeiting problem has sparked a great furor. Based on the results of a multi-year study by counterfeit note experts in Europe and Asia and the testimony of people familiar with printing press manufacturers, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reports that the CIA is responsible for issuing counterfeit notes produced in a secret facility in the suburbs of Washington D.C. The newspaper asserts that North Korea is incapable of counterfeiting the so-called "Supernotes," and that the production of these notes - which the U.S. holds the DPRK responsible for - may well have been issued in massive quantities, by a U.S. intelligence agency to fund its clandestine operations."

Well, given the lack of veracity in the alphabet soup agencies in general and BushCo in particular, this could be accurate. The CIA is known as part of the shadow government, and governments print money.

Secret court to govern wiretapping plan

"In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this authority has been given to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and that it already has approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group."

Last year, The Moron was saying that FISA was so 1970s.

Bush administration gets secret court's sanction for spying operation

"The legal maneuver was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter announced that the Justice Department had obtained from a single unnamed judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) orders allowing the continuation of the government’s domestic spying operation."

Olbermann hinted Thursday there may be more to this than meets the eye.

Bush retreats on use of executive power

"Under pressure from Congress and the courts, Bush in the past six months has closed secret overseas CIA prisons, transferred previously unidentified detainees to regular military custody, negotiated congressional approval for tribunals to try foreign terrorism suspects and accepted at least some regulation of how harshly such prisoners could be interrogated."

Protesters found in database: ACLU Is Questioning Entries in Defense Dept. System

"A Defense Department database devoted to gathering information on potential threats to military facilities and personnel, known as Talon, had 13,000 entries as of a year ago -- including 2,821 reports involving American citizens, according to an internal Pentagon memo to be released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The Pentagon memo says an examination of the system led to the deletion of 1,131 reports involving Americans, 186 of which dealt with 'anti-military protests or demonstrations in the U.S.'"

Civilian contractors in Iraq placed under US military law

"If the Defense Department chooses to pursue a case, civilian government employees, non-US citizens and even embedded journalists could now be brought before a military court. 'One could imagine a situation in which a commander is unhappy with what a reporter is writing and could use the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) to pressure the reporter,' Phillip E. Carter, a lawyer who specializes in government contract cases, told the Washington Post."

Pentagon sets rules for detainee trials

"The Pentagon set rules Thursday for detainee trials that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements, setting up a new clash betweenPresident Bush and Congress."

Help US close Guantanamo, say MPs

"MPs [Members of Parliament] who have visited Guantanamo Bay have called on Britain and the international community to do more to help the US close the camp."

Gonzales questions habeus corpus

"In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American."

Scooter Libby's time-travel trial

"In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

"It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

"Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush."

Justice Dept. names new prosecutors, forcing some out

"The Justice Department is removing several United States attorneys from their jobs, among them Carol C. Lam, the top federal prosecutor in San Diego, who led the corruption prosecution of former Representative Randy Cunningham." . . . .

"It is not clear how many United States attorneys are being forced out. Ms. Feinstein said the number was 5 to 10; Justice Department officials said the number was lower but would not provide a specific number.

“'We in no way politicize these decisions,' Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Other Justice Department officials said some prosecutors were being dismissed and others were leaving voluntarily."

Could Torquemada, who cannot tell the truth, be lying?

Feinstein claims White House using Patriot Act to oust prosecutors

"The California Democrat complained on the Senate floor that the Bush administration has used a provision of the Patriot Act to remove U-S Attorney Kevin Ryan and other prosecutors and replace them with White House allies."

Medical breakthrough could change global politics

"The approach is called 'ethical pharmaceuticals,' and it was unveiled on January 2 by Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College, and Steve Brocchini of the London School of Pharmacy, the Guardian reports. Their team of scientists in India and the UK, financed by the prestigious Wellcome with technical assistance from the UK government, have developed a method of making small but significant changes to the molecular structure of existing drugs, thereby transforming them into new products, circumventing the long-term patents used by the corporate giants of Big Pharma to keep prices - and profits - high. This will give the world's poorest and most vulnerable people access to life-saving medicines - now priced out of reach - for mere pennies."

Big Pharma will likely snuff Shaunak and Broccchini.

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers

"Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

"DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar."

State of health care

"The U.S. health care system is not healthy and Americans are worried. In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush promised to provide Americans with 'affordable health care.' Yet, while the United States continues to spend more than any other country on health care, nearly 47 million Americans -- a record high -- remain uninsured. Health care costs are increasing faster than wages, and six in ten insured Americans are "worried about being able to afford the cost of their health insurance over the next few years." With the cost of health care a top concern of the American public, the President will likely address the issue in this year's State of the Union address. But rather than provide solutions that would extend affordable coverage to all Americans, Bush appears ready to re-hash his tired, unpopular proposals for expanding consumer-driven health care continue his efforts to unravel the employer-based health care system by changing the tax treatment of some employer-sponsored health benefits."

Bernanke warns of US 'fiscal crisis' fear

"He urged immediate action to head off the looming Medicare and Social Security funding gap, saying the right time to start was 'ten years ago'. But Mr Bernanke refused to comment on whether this should be done by curbing spending, raising taxes or some combination of the two, saying that was for elected officials to decide."

We must expand corporate entitlement programs, quacked Bernanke.

Federal workers owe billions in unpaid taxes

"Seventy-one employees in the Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House, owe $664,527 in taxes for 2005. About 20 of those employees have entered into an IRS payment plan, bringing the EOP balance down to $455,881owed by 50 employees."

Euro displaces dollar in bond markets

"The euro has displaced the US dollar as the world’s pre-eminent currency in international bond markets, having outstripped the dollar-denominated market for the second year in a row."

US housing bust getting worse

"The US Federal Reserve will need to slash interest rates three times this year as the housing slump goes from bad to worse and the American consumer begins to buckle, Goldman Sachs has warned."

State of the economy

"Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow showed 'a tiny bit of leg on the State of the Union address.' Snow said that President Bush 'will address major issues' the country faces, 'including the war on terror, energy, health care, immigration, and education.' 'There will be areas that do not get extensive discussion,' Snow added. One of those areas appears to be the economy. Bush will likely call for the permanent extension of his tax cuts and a balanced budget -- even though the tax cuts 'have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits' -- and avoid other ways to stimulate the economy. Last year marked a slowdown period for the economy. 'The Gross Domestic Product, consumption, net worth, non-residential investment, wages and salaries, and employment all have grown less rapidly than during other comparable expansionary periods.' The slowdown in economic growth and job growth came 'as consumers saw rising debt payments on the record debt built up in past years.' The federal government's budget deficit remains large and the trade deficit is widening. Despite the economy's weakened state, the White House continues to neglect it."

Quotes from www.bartcop.com:

"In my view, history will show that this president never seriously prosecuted this war, never took his responsibility seriously, never provided sufficient resources, never even gave it his full attention. That became clear to me in 2003. I didn't get it beforehand because I just assumed that any American president would understand the gravity of the decisions he was taking and would ensure that he took all means to guarantee victory. But Bush didn't. He ran this war like a distracted frat boy, irritated by the distractions it required, and outsourced its execution to two unhinged aides. In other words: he wimped out." -- Andrew Sullivan, finally figuring out in 2007 what we knew in 1999 Link

"This is funny. The White House Correspondents' Association has apparently asked this year's comedic guest -- Rich Little -- not to give the president any grief since things are so bad for him already. And also no mentions of Iraq. The president is still recovering from last year's Colbert appearance. -- Josh Marshall talkingpointsmemo.com

"Bush has an exit strategy for the Iraqi war. In January of 2009, he will escape to Crawford, Texas." -- David Letterman

"I will have nothing to do with some political thing to embarrass the president." -- Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio Link

"The American press corps has lost its way. There's no reason the media played along with the administration's shifting rationales, all untrue in the run-up to the catastrophic war in Iraq. Congress rolled over, as we did, no questions asked. But the result of our default has been devastating. We lost our halo as the visionaries for a better mankind." -- Helen Thomas, one of the few who tells the truth Link

"In war, there are two exit strategies. One is victory. The other is defeat." -- Kissyface [Lieberman], when asked why young men are dying for no reason in Iraq, Link

"The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed." -- Inmate Jumah al-Dossari, in a letter published in the LA Times, WaHoPo

"If you were playing basketball with Dubya and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15. Even if it was clear who was winning, Dubya wanted to go further to see what would happen. That worked well in Tallahassee in 2000, but not so well in Tikrit." -- Doug Hannah, the Little Dictator's best friend when he was 15 years old Link

"The consequences of failure are more important than a political career. It could hurt me in a primary and it could hurt me in a general election. This could hurt me in history." -- John McCain, proving he knows it's suicide to tell the voters to f**k off