Picks Commentary

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A surfeit of lies

An evening with Michael Gordon

On Friday night we went to the Tattered Cover bookstore to listen to Gordon speak about his book, Cobra II. He struck me as a detached observer of major policy and military malfunctions. And as he generously fielded many questions from the audience, he never once mentioned oil.

In short, this is what I took home with me:

* He was embedded with the allied land command where he mainly was able to observe the decision making process at military headquarters, which included debriefs of Iraqi officers.

* Saddam was most concerned with the Shia population of Iraq, not the US. He was also interested in maintaining an air of mystery concerning WMDs in order to keep Iran, his other main concern, guessing.

*Saddam didn't think the US would go to Baghdad.

* US policy was decided by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, and their strategy was to continue the strategy of the last Gulf war. Therefore, they didn't take into consideration the Iraqi fehdajeen that was a decentralized force created by Saddam to control the Shia in southern Iraq after the first Gulf war.

The US strategy was to overcome the Republican Guard, but it was the fehdajeen who provided the greatest resistance and bullets instead of parades and flowers. Also, no Iraqi commander could order the destruction of bridges on the route to Baghdad without direct orders from Saddam. That paved the way for the rapid advance to Baghdad.

* As I understood it, Gordon was saying the major problems associated with the invasion and occupation were: an aversion to nation building, a dysfunctional decision making process, and disbanding the Iraqi army. I believe Gordon is being too generous when he says the administration really believed WMDs were present.

It was an evening well spent with a man of considerable intelligence and no apparent passion.

Harper's Weekly Review

The planet of unreality

"This is not good. The people running this country sound convinced that reality is whatever they say it is. And if they've actually strayed into the realm of genuine self-delusion -- if they actually believe the fantasies they're spinning about the bloody mess they've made in Iraq over the past three years -- then things are even worse than I thought."

Apocalyptic president

"In his latest PR offensive President Bush came to Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday to answer the paramount question on Iraq that he said was on people's minds: 'They wonder what I see that they don't.' After mentioning 'terror' 54 times and 'victory' five, dismissing 'civil war' twice and asserting that he is 'optimistic', he called on a citizen in the audience, who homed in on the invisible meaning of recent events in the light of two books, American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips, and the book of Revelation. Phillips, the questioner explained, 'makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this? And if not, why not?' Bush's immediate response, as transcribed by CNN, was: 'Hmmm.' Then he said: 'The answer is I haven't really thought of it that way. Here's how I think of it. First, I've heard of that, by the way.' The official White House website transcript drops the strategic comma, and so changes the meaning to: 'First I've heard of that, by the way.'

Back to the big lie

"Tossed a softball question during Tuesday morning's press conference about whether he should be censured for ordering warrantless wiretapping of phone conversations 'during a time of war,' President Bush fell back on the lie that Americans must surrender liberties -- and the rule of law, itself -- in order to be made safe from terrorism."

Those lies again

"In a nationally televised press conference, George W. Bush repeated some of his favorite lies about the Iraq War, including the canard that he was forced to invade because Saddam Hussein blocked the work of United Nations weapons inspectors in 2003.

"Bush has uttered this lie in a variety of forms over more than 2 ½ years, yet the Washington press corps has never challenged the President directly about the falsehood. He got away with it again on March 21 when no journalist followed up the question from Helen Thomas that elicited Bush’s response."

An administration in deepening crisis: Some reflections on the Bush press conference

"The Tuesday press conference held by George W. Bush at the White House was another display of the banality and sheer intellectual incapacity of the 43rd US president, and of the mounting contradictions which are undermining the most reactionary administration in American history."

An Update on President Bush's NSA Program: The Historical Context, Specter's Recent Bill, and Feingold's Censure Motion

"President George Bush continues to openly and defiantly ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- the 1978 statute prohibiting electronic inspection of Americans' telephone and email communications with people outside the United States without a court-authorized warrant. (According to U.S. News & World Report, the President may also have authorized warrantless break-ins and other physical surveillance, such as opening regular mail, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.)"

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

"When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers."

Supreme court: Detainees' rights -- Scalia speaks his mind

"But Justice Antonin Scalia has already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter. During an unpublicized March 8 talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions, adding he was 'astounded' at the 'hypocritical' reaction in Europe to Gitmo."

A throwback to the legal principles of the Inquisition . . . his catholic heritage is showing.

DOJ: NSA could've monitored lawyer's calls

"The National Security Agency could have legally monitored ordinarily confidential communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients, the Justice Department said Friday of its controversial warrantless surveillance program."

So there you have it

"His lies are so blatant that I must constantly check myself so as not to assume that he is simply delusional or has blocked out whole chains of events from the past."

Bush bombs in Cleveland

"Meanwhile, that old 'central front,' wooly Afghanistan, is now all sewed up, Bush reassures. 'Twenty-five million people are now free, and Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for the terrorists.' Apparently the president missed the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Maples, giving testimony to Congress a few weeks ago that Taliban resurgence now presents 'a greater threat to the Afghan central government’s expansion of authority than at any point since late 2001.'"

State after state repudiates Bush

"According to SurveyUSA.com, which tracks Bush’s approval ratings in all 50 states, Bush’s support in the March readings plunged to double-digit net negative numbers even in some staunchly Republican states: -12% in South Carolina, -17% in Indiana, -18% in Virginia, and -19% in Tennessee. In Bush’s home state of Texas, public disapproval topped approval by 14 percentage points."

Ex-UN chief: America has 'lost its moral compass'

"Highlighting the US’s opposition last week to the creation of a new UN Human Rights Council, Mrs Robinson said: 'It illustrates the seismic shift which has taken place in the relation of the US to global rule of law issues. Today, the US no longer leads, but is too often seen merely to march out of step with the rest of the world.'"

A US view: Bush censure far-off in this climate

"It's not merely the media — it's the inability of the average American to use a knowledge base to separate fact from fiction, truth from propaganda. The problem runs wide and deep in the U.S. — from a general distrust of “eggheads” and denigration of 'book learning' and critical thinking, to a belief born of theological manifest destiny — America was anointed to rule the world because God said so."

FBI, police spying is rising, group's allege

"Political activists from New York to Colorado to California report that they believe police and FBI surveillance of their activities has increased markedly since the terror attacks 4-1/2 years ago since Congress approved the USA Patriot Act loosening some of the strictures on law enforcement. They include environmental groups like Time's UP!, peace activists in Pittsburgh, and even a police union protesting for higher wages in New York City."

Court grants request to question Abramoff in SunCruz slaying trial

"A judge has approved subpoenas for ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner to answer questions about the mob-style slaying of the owner of a gambling fleet they bought."

The culture of corruption is wide and deep.

'Iraq was awash in cash. We played football with bricks of $100 bills': At the beginning of the Iraq war, the UN entrusted $23bn of Iraqi money to the US-led coalition to redevelop the country. With the infrastructure of the country still in ruins, where has all that money gone?

"For the coalition, it has been a catastrophe of its own making. For the Iraqi people, it has been a tragedy. But it is also a financial and political scandal that runs right to the heart of the nightmare that is engulfing Iraq today."

Iraq -- US news media's Waterloo

"Even the nation’s preeminent news outlets, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, were sucked into the fiasco, shattering the trust that many Americans had placed in their 'free press' as a vital check and balance on Executive power.

"By contrast, many poorly funded Web sites did a much better job of standing up to the political pressures, showing skepticism and getting the story right."

US media wallows in amnesia

"Short of calling tens of millions of people in the most wired culture in the world stupid and/or ignorant, how does one explain such a discrepancy between reality and propaganda?"

America's blinders

"Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?"

Bush asks US to look past Iraq bloodshed

"Beginning the fourth year of an unpopular war, President Bush defended his Iraq record on Monday against skeptical questioning. He said he could 'understand people being disheartened' but appealed to Americans to look beyond the bloodshed and see signs of progress."

That is, close your eyes and avoid stepping in the blood.

Global Eye

"For instance, we know that the soldiers who caused the deaths of these children -- either by tying them up and shooting them, an unspeakable atrocity, or else 'merely' by storming or bombing a house full of civilians in a night raid 'with both air and ground assets' -- were sent to Iraq on a demonstrably false mission to 'disarm' weapons that did not exist and take revenge for Sept. 11 on people who had nothing to do with the attack. And we now know that President George W. Bush was given detailed reports before the invasion that showed conclusively that the intelligence did not support the public case he was making for war, as the National Journal reports."

Children bound and shot in the back illustrate the lies Smirk oozes daily. He needs to don an orange jump suit immediately and rot in prison for treason and war crimes.

Radioactive tank no. 9 comes limping home

"The enduring vigorous stupidity of the U.S. military pretends that radiation is one of those things that if you can't see it, it can't hurt you. They are thoroughly delusional, of course. A National Academy of Sciences report released June 30, 2005, finds that there is no safe level of radiation. Any radiation is bad.

"From America to Iraq and back, these giant radioactive hulks can only sicken and kill Americans. On top of the sheer, unrelenting stupidity of playing with radiation with unsuspecting soldiers, now the neo-con government is involving everyday Americans in their radiation madness."

The Department of Offense is a gift that keeps on giving. And as the dust from Operation Iraqis Oil's depleted uranium munitions settles around the planet, the millions of new cancer victims can curse Saddam for being such a bad man.

Is this a strategy for success? Washington's good news in Iraq isn't quite what it seems

"What it [Tal Afar] is, though, like so many places in Iraq now, is a city increasingly divided along sectarian lines. The neighborhoods we patrolled were largely Shia; those our reporter found barricaded and dangerous were mostly Sunni. 'I'd say that zero percent of Bush's talk about Tall Afar is true,' said Ahmed Sami, 45, a Sunni laborer. 'They turned Shiite neighborhoods into havens, and Sunni neighborhoods into hells.'"

Neocon ambitions and the spectacular disaster of Iraq

"What was to have been a jolly, self-financing little war promoted by pro-Israeli neocons to ‘liberate’ Iraq’s oil has cost over $500 billion so far. That’s $50 billion more than the Vietnam War’s total cost (in 2006 dollars). Clearly, the US armed forces are too expensive to send to a war lasting longer than a few months."

US plans new bases in the Middle East

"The plans, revealed in March 2006 contracting documents, call for the continued storage of everything from packaged meals ready to eat (MREs) to missiles in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, as well as the establishment of two new storage hubs, one in a classified Middle Eastern country 'west' of Saudi Arabia ('Site 23') and the other in a yet to be decided 'central Asian state.'"

Here's a crazy thought; what if the US invested money spent on dreams of world conquest on alternative energy/transportation and education instead?

Impeachment? Hell no, impalement

"I don't know about you guys, but I am so sick and tired of these lying, thieving, holier-than-thou, right-wing, cruel, crude, rude, gauche, coarse, crass, cocky, corrupt, dishonest, debauched, degenerate, dissolute, swaggering, lawyer shooting, bullhorn shouting, infrastructure destroying, hysterical, history defying, finger-pointing, puppy stomping, roommate appointing, pretzel choking, collateral damaging, aspersion casting, wedding party bombing, clear cutting, torturing, jobs outsourcing, torture outsourcing, . . ."

A monumental rant.

New York Times details secret US military torture operation

"Based on new interviews with military and government officials, the Times piece (“Before and After Abu Ghraib, a US Unit Abused Detainees,” by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall) provides some additional information about the unit, particularly with regard to its widespread practice of torturing Iraqi prisoners. However, the newspaper does more to conceal than to reveal the real significance of TF 6-26, which has been closely integrated with a policy of torture and assassination approved at the highest levels of the American government To this day, TF 6-26 continues to operate, but in an even more secretive environment than it did during the period covered by the Times article."

War is peace; torture is freedom.

US casualties stay high

"Over the past month, the average rate at which U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq has significantly fallen, the but the rates at which they are being wounded have dramatically increased."

What ever happened to Congress? A Tomdispatch interview with Chalmers Johnson (Part 2) [Link to Part 1 in introduction]

"The military is out of control. As part of the executive branch, it's expanded under cover of the national security state. Back when I was a kid, the Pentagon was called the Department of War. Now, it's the Department of Defense, though it palpably has nothing to do with defense. Hasn't for a long time. We even have another department of the government today that's concerned with 'homeland security.' You wonder what on Earth do we have that for -- and a Dept of Defense, too!"

What's good for corporations and their congressional representatives has little to do with what's good for the country and its citizens.

Diebold Inc. sued over California voting systems

"'In certifying the Diebold machines, the secretary has sidestepped his duty to deny certification to voting systems that violate state and federal standards,' Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. 'Diebold systems have failed in security tests and in communities around the country.'"

Life's diversity 'being depleted'

"The other indicators point to an accelerating decline, which has seen the rates of species extinctions surge to their highest levels since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago."
Meanwhile, Pombo (R - demented) is happily gutting the Endangered Species Act.

Oil gushes into Arctic Ocean from BP pipeline

"Across the frozen North Slope of Alaska, the region's largest oil accident on record has been sending hundreds of thousands of litres of crude pouring into the Arctic Ocean during the past week after a badly corroded BPO pipeline ruptured."

Inuit see signs in Arctic thaw

Fish and wildlife are following the retreating ice caps northward. Polar bears are losing the floes they need for hunting. Seals, unable to find stable ice, are hauling up on islands to give birth. Robins and barn owls and hornets, previously unknown so far north, are arriving in Arctic villages.

Carbon cloud over a green fuel

"The trend, which is expected to continue, has left even some ethanol boosters scratching their heads. Should coal become a standard for 30 to 40 ethanol plants under construction - and 150 others on the drawing boards - it would undermine the environmental reasoning for switching to ethanol in the first place, environmentalists say."

I was taking with a fellow at a party a few years ago, and he held a patent on the production of ethanol. The problem, he said, is that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than the ethanol is able to provide.

Ceres releases first-ever ranking of 100 global companies on climate change strategy

"A growing number of leading U.S. companies are confronting the business challenges from global warming, recognizing that greenhouse gas limits are inevitable and that they cannot risk falling behind their international competitors in developing climate-friendly technologies. Some U.S. companies, such as General Electric, are catching up and joining DuPont and Alcoa in leading their industries. But many others are still largely ignoring the climate issue with 'business as usual' strategies that may be putting their companies and shareholders at risk."

General Motors in crisis talks to cut 35,000 jobs

"General Motors is trying to stave off the possibility of collapse by thrashing out a last-minute job reduction plan with its former subsidiary and now major parts supplier, Delphi, and the powerful United Auto Workers union.

"The plan on the table is believed to involve offering up to 35,000 employees in both companies cash incentives of up to $35,000 (£20,000) to take early retirement."

GM, Delphi, US autoworkers' union agree to massive job-cutting program

"The 'Special Attrition Program' announced Wednesday provides retirement incentives and buyouts aimed at moving out of the plants an older generation of autoworkers who have attained wage levels, benefits and working conditions that Wall Street and the auto executives consider luxurious and uncompetitive. The goal of the corporations and their financial advisors is to create a much smaller, younger and more highly exploited workforce that will be paid lower wages, enjoy no job security at all and lack any guarantee of a pension or medical benefits upon retirement."

I remember when a GM slogan was "What's good for General Motors is good for America." Now it will be, "What's good for General Motors executives is bad for America."

15 million Brits losing savings in Blair's supposed safe bet

"About 15 million British citizens who were forced to invest in the domestic bond market are losing their savings, and the government is telling them: Too bad!"

Will your job survive?

"As Blinder believes that all those manufacturing jobs are offshorable, too, the grand total of American jobs that could be bound for Bangalore or Bangladesh is somewhere between 42 million and 56 million. That doesn't mean all those jobs are going to be exported. It does mean that the Americans performing them will be in competition with people who will do the same work for a whole lot less."

UAE, Saudi considering to move reserves out of dollar
"A number of Middle Eastern central banks said on Tuesday they would seek to switch reserves from the US greenback to euros."

Quotes from www.bartcop.com and others:

"It shows how dangerously incompetent he is." -- Harry Reid, on Monkey saying troops will stay in Iraq as long as he's president, Link I think what Bush meant was America will stay in Iraq until he sucks it free of every drop of oil.

"I knew that the farther we got away from September the 11th, 2001, the more likely it would be that some would forget the lessons of that day." -- America's Giggling Murderer, Link Hey Monkey, YOU forgot 9-11 when you called of the hunt for Osama so you could invade Iraq and steal their oil, ...ya lying bastard.

"One of my jobs is to constantly remind people of the lessons. The first lesson is, is that oceans can no longer protect us." -- America's braindead Monkey, Link Hey Monkey, ever heard of Pearl Harbor?

"When I was coming up in the '50s in Texas, it seemed like we were pretty safe. In the '60s it seemed like we were safe." -- America's ignore-the-PDB Monkey, Link

"You couldn't sit in that press room day after day. Every time, every time it was mentioned by Ari Fleischer or Scott, they would say in one breath, 9/11, Saddam. 9/11, Saddam. I don't blame the American people for thinking there was a [connection.]" -- Helen Thomas, a member of the press we can respect, Link

"The most powerful man in the world tells bald-faced lies that result in the death of possibly hundreds of thousands of people and the mainstream media pretends it hasn’t happened. It keeps happening, and nobody seems to think it’s a big deal. Well, I do. The WaHoPo found the president’s press conference to be 'sometimes blunt, sometimes joking and sometimes unpolished' but 'sounded authentic,"I found it to be 'lying.'" -- Eric Alterman, Link Wolf the Whore was worse, going on and on about how "relaxed and commanding" Bush was at his lil' whore press conference. Sure, if you never answer a question it's easy to put on a performance that looks authentic. The White House press treats Bush like Playboy bunnies treat Hugh Hefner.

"Stupidity is the basic building block of the universe." -- Frank Zappa

"She seems like she hates him - in fact, she seems like she burns with hatred. Her smile is just a little bit too, well, wide. It's more like a grimace." -- comedian Margaret Cho, on Pickles

"I've got a 45-second commute to my office. The food is pretty good. It is a -- I've enjoyed every second of the presidency." -- Oil Boy, who stole $127,820,000yesterday, Link

"Saddam aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda." -- Dubya, SOTU 2003, Link

"Saddam and al-Qaeda in the same sentence separated by seven words. Who does the President think he's f-ing kidding?" -- Keith Olbermann, on Dubya's lying about 9-11 and Saddam Hussein, Link

"Imagine an enemy that says: We will kill innocent people because we're trying to encourage people to be free." -- Dubya, press conference, Link He understands those words, probably. He knows how crazy it sounds, but he can't understand that they apply to him.

"I didn’t say that there was a direct connection between 9-11 and Saddam." -- Dubya, Link
"The Iraq invasion may be the single most misguided, dishonest and counter-productive expenditure of our nation’s blood and treasure in its history. And almost all of this was evident from the start to anyone who cared to look." -- Eric Alterman, Link

"Yesterday marked three years of war in Iraq -- but not to Bush. To Bush, it was 'the third anniversary of the beginning of the liberation of Iraq.' Bush's avoidance of the word 'war' in the context of Iraq is the rule, not the exception. In the carefully chosen lexicon of White House speeches, that particular word is almost exclusively reserved for the 'global war on terror.' So there is no war, except for the war that never ends, and we're winning." -- Dan Froomkin, Link

"There is a perception that's created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad. It's not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces." -- Dick Cheney, Link

"You know, Cheney's right. Why do we focus so much on the 9-11 attacks and not all the work that went on that day in 49 other states?" --ntodd, Link

"This will be no war - there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention. It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on." -- Christopher Hitchens, Jan 28, 2003, Link Hitchens loves Bush more than Pickles.

"We're all neo-cons now." -- Chris Matthews, April 9, 2003, gushing at and cheering for Bush, Link

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?" -- Alan Colmes, whore in sheep's clothing, April 25, 2003, Link

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys." -- CNN's Lou Dobbs, on "Mission Accomplished" May 1, 2003, Link

"The war winds down, politics heats up...Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific." -- PBS's Gwen Ifill, outright worshipping The First Monkey on "Mission Accomplished", Link

"If we named presidents the way we do historical figures like Richard the Lionhearted or Ivan the Terrible, certainly today what you saw was George Bush the Passionate." -- Bob Schieffer, worshipping at the BFEE's altar for money Link

"Mr. President: Did you ever hold conservative notions and assumptions on the issue of spending? If so, did you abandon them after the trauma of 9/11? For what reasons, exactly? Were you always a liberal on spending?" -- Peggy Noonan, attacking Bush more than the Democrats, Link

"Taking care of all Iraqi business in the time it takes to watch 'Two and a Half Men'." -- Jon Stewart, on the 30-minute first session of Iraq's parliament

Audio adventure

A lady bought a new Lexus. Two days later, she brought it back, complaining that the radio was not working. "Madam", said the sales manager, "the audio system in this car is completely automatic. All you need to do is tell it what you want to listen to, and you will hear exactly that!"

She drives out, somewhat amazed and a little confused. She looked at the radio and said"Nelson." The radio responded, Ricky or Willie?" Soon, she was speeding down the highway to the sounds of "On the road again." The lady was astounded. If she wanted Beethoven, that's what she got. If she wanted Nat King Cole, she got it.

Suddenly, at a traffic light, her light turned green and she pulled out. Off to her right, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a small sports utility vehicle speeding toward her. She swerved and narrowly missed a terrible collision. "Asshole", she muttered. And, from the radio............"Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States. . . ."


It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then -- just to loosen up.

Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it wasn't true.

Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. That was when things began to sour at home. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

One day the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."

This gave me a lot to think about. I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confess, "I've been thinking...""I know you've been thinking," She said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently. She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors... They didn't open. The library was closed.To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a Poster caught my eye, "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked.You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster; which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.

I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. The road to recovery is nearly complete for me. Today I made the final step: I registered to vote as a Republican.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Help me! I'm melting! -- George W. Bush

Boston Legal, excerpt from episode, Stick it!, March 14, 2006

Quite by accident, I caught the last few minutes of this program. Alan Shore, the defense attorney, is giving his closing arguments. His client is being prosecuted for withholding taxes as an anti-war protest. It is worth reading through:

Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't. Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specializein torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute. Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorist suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.

And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't. In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.

There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people even seem to notice. Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest. Stop for a second and try to fathom that.

At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you’re wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed. This! In the United States of America. This! In the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?

(He sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge.)
Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.

Alan Shore: Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.

Judge Robert Sanders: Please get out of the chair.

Alan Shore: Actually, I'm sick and tired.

Judge Robert Sanders: Get out of the chair!

Alan Shore: And what I'm most sick and tired of… (He get’s up and out of the chair.) …is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled un-American.

D.A. Jonathan Shapiro: Evidentially, it's speech time.

Alan Shore: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say, "Stick it"!

D.A. Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!

Alan Shore: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it, they're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.

Alan Shore: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29-year-old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952.He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism." Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.”

I know we are all afraid. But the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.

[This dramatic moment reminded me of James Michener saying, "Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is stronger than truth."]

Harper's Weekly Review

Bush approval falls to 33% . . . .

"The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,'and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.'; All three are mentioned far more often today than a year ago."

Putting it mildly.

Sky falls on Bush the outcast

"Tarnished by the war and a never-ending flow of domestic scandals, Bush is increasingly being seen as a liability to Republicans facing November's mid-term elections. Many of the party's senior members are distancing themselves from their President with a new willingness to disobey orders from the White House."

Bush using straw-man arguments in speeches

"A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as 'a bizarre kind of double talk' that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"'It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people,' Fields said. 'All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff.'"

Bush's fantasy of progress in Iraq

"WHAT IS HE thinking? On a day when Shiite vigilantes conducted hangings in Sadr City in reprisal for the killing of scores of their co-religionists in a market bombing, President Bush continued to insist that progress in Iraq justified staying the course.

"'By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of freedom and peace,' he said Monday. 'We're helping Iraqis build a strong democracy so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency marginalized.'"

Bush still ignoring reality

"Yet, in test-marketing his new P.R. campaign in a March 11 radio address, Bush had his rose-colored glasses firmly back on. In his upbeat assessment, he downplayed grisly evidence that Iraq is sliding toward sectarian civil war, with Shiite “death squads” butchering Sunnis and Sunni gunmen killing Shiites."

Anti-war rallies held across the world

"Anti-war demonstrators held rallies across the globe Saturday to protest the war in Iraq as campaigners marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a demand that coalition troops pull out."

US postwar Iraq strategy a mess, Blair was told

"John Sawers, Mr Blair's envoy in Baghdad in the aftermath of the invasion, sent a series of confidential memos to Downing Street in May and June 2003 cataloguing US failures. With unusual frankness, he described the US postwar administration, led by the retired general Jay Garner, as 'an unbelievable mess' and said 'Garner and his top team of 60-year-old retired generals" were "well-meaning but out of their depth'."

Change of heartland

'''It's chaos,' said Roger Madaras, who voted twice for Bush. ''How many more people are going to be killed? We were going in to free the people of Iraq, but as far as I'm concerned, a lot of them are worse off today than they were under the dictatorship.'"

85 bodies found in Baghdad in Sectarian strife

"Many bodies bore marks of torture — badly beaten faces, gagged mouths and rope burns around the neck — though it remains unclear who is responsible."

Media ignored Bush's contradictory stance on "timetables" in Iraq

"In covering President's Bush's March 13 speech at George Washington University, media outlets reported that Bush effectively laid out a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq by setting a 'goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006.' These reports, however, completely ignored the numerous statements Bush and other administration officials have made denouncing timetables for withdrawal and attacking those -- such as decorated war veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) -- who proposed them."

US military airstrikes significantly increased in Iraq

"American forces have dramatically increased airstrikes in Iraq during the past five months, a change of tactics that may foreshadow how the United States plans to battle a still-strong insurgency while reducing the number of U.S. ground troops serving here."

Translation: collateral damage will escalate, increasing Arab hatred for 'Merica.

Make war, not peace: Forces' leaders trying to stifle debate on mission

"Hillier and others in Canada's hawkish defence lobby — generals, politicians, military analysts and defence contractors — are therefore delighted by the transformation of our military role in Afghanistan into one that includes war-making. Indeed, they pushed for this transformation."

Canada continues to dance with the devil.

The war dividend: The British companies making a fortune out of conflict-riven Iraq

"British businesses have profited by at least £1.1bn since coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein three years ago, the first comprehensive investigation into UK corporate investment in Iraq has found."

US war spending to rise 44% to 9.8 bln a month, report says

"Spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion a month the Pentagon said it spent last year, the research service said. The group's March 10 report cites 'substantial''" expenses to replace or repair damaged weapons, aircraft, vehicles, radios and spare parts.

Cost of Iraq war could surpass $1 trillion

"One thing is certain about the Iraq war: It has cost a lot more than advertised. In fact, the tab grows by at least $200 million each and every day."

Feingold accuses Democrats of 'cowering"

"Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold accused fellow Democrats on Tuesday of cowering rather than joining him on trying to censure President Bush over domestic spying."

On Wednesday, Ed Schultz said he called 25 dem congressmen to talk about the censure on air and none came forth. Since they get their kickbacks from the same sources as the repgugs, they're afraid to shortchange themselves.

Death of the world's rivers

"The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that more than half the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the United Nations will this week warn is a 'disaster in the making'."

A blueprint for fiscal disaster

"This week, the Senate is debating the 2007 budget resolution, a blueprint for how Congress plans to allocate $2.8 trillion in federal spending next year. The federal budget is a concrete embodiment of policy choices, a moral document that reflects the values and priorities of our nation. The budget that the Senate is currently debating runs counter to many of our nation's longest and deepest held beliefs; it prioritizes tax cuts for the rich and wasteful spending in the defense budget while shortchanging veterans benefits, education, health care, energy research, homeland security, housing for the elderly and disabled, and child care for working families. The Washington Post writes, '[I]t's time to pause and consider the unabashed recklessness of the Bush administration's fiscal policies and its unwillingness to alter its tax-cutting course to accommodate new budgetary realities.' Indeed, while President Bush and his conservative allies claim their cuts to domestic programs are needed measures to assert fiscal discipline, the reality is that the Senate budget plan would actually increase the deficit over the next five years by $266 billion."

Is rising US public debt sustainable?

"The economic burden posed by the national debt, economists say, is more serious now than in 1980, when a $1 trillion figure stirred national anxiety. Today, the public debt is larger as a share of the American economy, more than half is held by foreigners, and the wave of baby-boomer retirements is no longer decades away."

US deficit data fuel anxieties on dollar

"The worse-than-expected deficit rekindled fears among economists that global imbalances would undermine the dollar."

Bush administration renews "preemptive war" strategy

"In issuing this updated version of the National Security Strategy, the Bush administration has made it clear that there will be no retreat from the doctrine of preemptive war; the United States reserves to itself the right to attack, at any time, any country that it considers a threat, or merely a potential threat, even if that country has not taken any overt hostile action."

Former judge says US risks edging near to dictatorship

"Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republican-appointed judge who retired last month after 24 years on the Supreme Court, has said the United States is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party's rightwingers continue to attack the judiciary."

I wonder if she regrets selecting the evil moron for president?

Iraq and the Nuremberg precedent

"But what about the legal and moral questions arising from the unprovoked invasion of Iraq? Should George W. Bush and his top aides be held accountable for violating the laws against aggressive war that the United States and other Western nations promulgated in punishing senior Nazis after World War II? Do the Nuremberg precedents that prohibit one nation from invading another apply to Bush and American officials -- or are they somehow immune? Put bluntly, should Bush and his inner circle face a war-crimes tribunal for the tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq?"

Global Eye

"So now he [Bush] has taken his revenge. The backdoor measure in the Patriot Act decrees that responsibility for awarding fast-track death-penalty status to the states will now be the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney General -- one Alberto Gonzales. Yes, the fawning minion whose perversions of law on behalf of his boss have abetted war, torture, corruption, assassination, abduction, rendition, dictatorship and the slipshod Texas death machinery will now decide if states are scrupulous enough to resume lickety-split executions. You can hear those sausage grinders gearing up all over America."

US/Israel plan nuclear attack on Iran to control oil and defend the dollar

"US and Israeli governments plan a military attack against Iran, possibly using nuclear bombs [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], possibly this month (March 2006) for reasons including: stopping the planned opening of an international oil-petrochemical-gas stock exchange for oil trade in euros [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]; control of Khuzestan province [1] [2] [3] where most Iranian oil lies, on the border with Iraq (US war plan OPLAN 1002-04); to distract attention from USA domestic political problems; and for Christian fundamentalist reasons - Bush says he was just following God's orders when he ordered the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq."

Bush ready to initiate 'regime change' for the mullahs

"After five years of indecision and internal disputes the Bush administration has started a new, more vigorous phase in trying to undermine the ruling mullahs of Iran. The phrase 'regime change' is seen as too loaded to use in public but in effect that is what the administration is hoping to do, according to officials in Washington."

US derails efforts for democracy in Iran

"Prominent activists inside Iran say President Bush's plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to promote democracy here is the kind of help they don't need, warning that mere announcement of the U.S. program endangers human rights advocates by tainting them as American agents, the WASHINGTON POST reports on Tuesday page ones, RAW STORY has learned."

Arab central banks move assets out of dollar

"Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros."

Carlyle Group explores port operations

"Private equity firm The Carlyle Group established a team to acquire public-purpose facilities such as ports a day after a United Arab Emirates company said it would transfer newly acquired operations at American ports to a U.S. organization."

Tony Blair's future employer ready to make a move.

Many utilities collect for taxes they never pay

"Many electric utility companies across the nation are collecting billions of dollars from their customers for corporate income taxes, then keeping the money rather than sending it to the government." . . . .

"Customers paid Xcel Energy, a big utility in 10 Midwest and Western states, at least $723 million to cover taxes from 2002 to 2004. But the money did not go to the government; in fact, the company received cash refunds of $351.4 million."

Corporations have the rights of individuals without the accountability. It pays to line the pockets of representatives, senators, judges, presidents, vice presidents, etc. Xcel illegally pocketed over $1B in two years. Shouldn't someone go to jail for that? Shouldn't Xcel's customers demand the money not paid for taxes returned to them?

Pfizer makes list of worst corporate evildoers

"Pfizer's participation in the cover-up of the deadly side effects of Bextra surely contributed to its membership. Because the drug was promoted and sold off-label for so many unapproved uses, the company made hundreds of millions of dollars in pure profits during Bextra's short life on the market. However, experts predict that when all is said and done, the total amount of the drug's damage to consumers will be in the billions."

Democrats: Bush rejects needed storm loans

"The White House has rejected hurricane disaster-recovery loans at a higher rate than any other administration in the last 15 years, according to a congressional study by Democrats."

But after 9/11, BushCo was quick to lavishly lay corporate welfare on the airline industry.

Quotes from http://www.bartcop.com/ and others:

"Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) said he won't rule out voting to censure Bush." -- Wake-Up Call!, Link

He has time and time again taken on the side of the terrorists." --Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Bastard) accusing Feingold of siding with terrorists, As long as Feingold stands alone, they can accuse him of these atrocities. If some Democrats would stand up and endorse Feingold, he would have some protection. How can the Democrats be so scared of doing the right thing?

"I'm amazed at Democrats...cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration...just has to raise the specter of the War on Terror, and Democrats run and hide." -- Russ Feingold, sounding like he's been reading you-know-what, Link

"The Republicans in charge of Congress have been partners with Bush every bloody, stupid, costly step along the way. You may as well ask them to impeach themselves. For that matter, you may as well call on Bush and Dick Cheney to recognize their disastrous mistakes and resign. Let's remember that politics is about gaining and using power - and that gravity does apply." -- David Corn, Link

"We don't fear the future. We welcome it. We have delivered results for the American people, and we've got an agenda to continue to do so." -- Dubya, bragging about alll his successes at the Nazi Committee dinner on Thursday, Link

"We're all burned out. People are just tired.'" -- White House staffers, tired of the lies, Link

"The president authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to ...condemn the President's actions...The president has done wrong." -- Russ Feingold, saying stuff I like hearing, Link

“I’d prefer to bring this very important program of surveillance of potential terrorists here in the United States under the law. ...this is a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts here in the United States.” -- Joe Lieberman, hinting he'd vote no on the Feingold resolution to censure Dubya, Link

"If Democratics are going to be attacking the president in a time of war, then we are ready to vote. If they support censuring Bush then I want them to all be on the record." -- Bill Frist, Link I agree. All those in favor of the United States Constitution, stand and be counted. All those in favor of dumping Democracy for King Bush, stand and be counted.

"The signal that it sends, that there is in any way a lack of support for our commander in chief who is leading us with a bold vision in a way that is making our homeland safer, is wrong." -- Bill Frist, on Dubya being censored, Link Would somebody remind this prick he leads the party that impeached a popular president during wartime?

"The White House has a transmitter but not a listening device. There's denial going on, and it starts at the top." -- A well-known Republican with close ties to Bush, Link Too bad the Democrats don't understand that when the oppositon has an approval rating of 36 percent, THAT is when you attack, but they're too scared to act, the poor gutless bastards.

"George W. Bush is the syphilis president." -- Kurt Vonnegut, at Ohio State, Link

"If this was a European parliamentary system, it would have been a vote of no-confidence." -- Ed Rollins, Republican strategist, on Dubya's Dubai defeat, Link

"My administration was satisfied that port security would not have been undermined by the agreement. Nevertheless, Congress was still very much opposed to it." -- Dubya, who apparently thinks America still trusts his non-existent judgment. Link

"He made that veto threat then he went on the trip to India and went silent basically. Karl Rove calls the people in Dubai two nights ago and tells them pull the plug on the deal, and I think as a result, the president looks weak, frankly." -- Bill Kristol, who tells the truth twice each year, on Fox Whore News, Link

"The president deserved better." -- John McCain, fretting over his "best friend" Dubya's problems, Link

"Sad pandering politician near the end of his career and he doesn't even know it." -- Atrios, on John McCain, Link

"War is a very profitable thing ...for a few people. Jesus used to be so merciful and loving of the poor. But now he’s a Republican." -- Kurt Vonnegut, at Ohio State, Link

Presidential IQs

F.D.R. (D) (number didn't come thru)

132 Harry Truman (D)
122 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174 John F. Kennedy (D)
126 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155 Richard M. Nixon (R)
121 Gerald Ford (R)
175 James E. Carter (D)
105 Ronald Reagan (R)
098 George HW Bush (R)
182 William J. Clinton (D)
091 George W. Bush (R)
The six Republican presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with Nixon having the highest at 155.


Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were having breakfast at the White House.The attractive waitress asks Cheney what he would like, and he replies, "I'd like a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit.""

And what can I get for you, Mr. President?"

George W. replies with his trademark wink and slight grin, "How about a quickie this morning?""

Why, Mr. President!" the waitress exclaims "How rude! You're starting to act like Mr. Clinton! ''

As the waitress storms away, Cheney leans over to Bush and whispers..."It's pronounced 'quiche'."

Sunday Comics

Be sure to read the Sunday Comics today. Five address Smirk issues. (I have given my interpretation in parentheses.)

Wizard of ID (Lowest approval rating ever)

Beetle Bailey (Inability to lead)

OPUS (intimidation and control of press)

Doonesbury (Lack of Congressional oversight for impeachable offenses)

Non Sequitur (All of the above) (Note lectern notes)

(Thanks, Ray.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Global warming = bad science -- The Chimp

Below are two passages from Paul Hawken's The Ecology of Commerce. I chose them, because the Kabuki theater of modern governments has only one purpose: protect the "rights" of corporations while pretending to address the needs of citizens. And the rapacious need for capitalism to grow and consume spells the end for both.

"Today, the unbalanced and unequal relationship between authority and the governed is being played out within the city-states that we call the modern corporation, and unlike times past, the distinctions between our private lives and corporate rights has become blurred and confused."

. . . .

"The problem is essentially this: We in the rich, industrial nations are under the impression that we are experiencing an ingenious outfoxing of carrying capacity. Clever, yes, but ingenious no, because our means of production do not necessarily increase the carrying capacity of the environment, they only temporarily insulate us from the results of our actions. We confuse our rate of and ability to consume with the capacity of living systems to provide for those wants."

Sayonara .

Culture of intellectual corruption

"It will be nearly impossible in the next several months to avoid the phrase "culture of corruption." It is of Democratic vintage, coined to take the sins of Jack Abramoff, former Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham and maybe some others and visit them on all Republicans running for office, especially congressional incumbents. Strictly speaking, it's a bit of a smear. But if it applies anywhere, and it does, it's not to corruption having to do with money, it's to corruption having to do with thought. The Bush administration is intellectually corrupt."

The planet can't wait

"The warnings are coming from frogs and beetles, from melting ice and changing ocean currents, and from scientists and responsible politicians around the world. And yet what is the U.S. government doing about global warming? Nothing. That should shock the conscience of Americans."

Hidden ties: Big environmental changes backed by big industry

"Since President Bush took office, Republicans have successfully pushed through major reforms that target regulations for power-plant emissions and the management of federal forests. During his 2004 campaign for reelection, the president praised his Healthy Forests initiative as 'a good, common-sense policy.' This year, the Republican-led Congress is gearing up for yet another 'common-sense' reform to a major piece of environmental legislation—the Endangered Species Act (ESA)."

Alaska oil spill exposes 'gentle' drilling problems

"In response to the latest spill, the environmental advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife said the rupture shows the devastation drilling in wildlife areas can cause. They said the spill illustrates that improved technologies for drilling do nothing to prevent pipeline ruptures down the line."

Hard push for offshore drilling from Congress and Bush administration

"With the fight to pry open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge having stalled out, the oil and gas industry and some members of Congress are now focused on parts of the outer continental shelf (OCS) that have been off-limits to drilling for nearly 25 years. This change comes at a time of escalating energy prices, an ever-louder drumbeat for energy independence, and a presidential declaration only month ago that the time had come to break America's addiction to oil."

US nuclear plant leaks fuel health concerns

"'We don't know what else has been leaked from that site. When they close ranks, you can't believe them,' Cosgrove said, referring to the plant owner and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees safety at the nation's 103 commercial reactors, including 11 in Illinois."

Group warns of toxic tuna

"The mercury levels of the 12 tuna samples averaged about double the FDA standard, and a quarter of the orders were near or above the limit where the agency says fish should not be sold, said Eli Saddler, a public health analyst and attorney for GotMercury.org."

12 states appeal emissions decision: Challenge to EPA refusal to regulate greenhouse gases

"California and 11 other states asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to review the Bush administration's refusal to regulate motor vehicle emissions of gases that scientists blame for global warming."

Big food's bad idea

"Some people called it a folly of know-nothing Luddites. Others praised it as an important blow against technological hubris. But no matter where you stood on the 2004 ballot measure in California's Mendocino County that banned the cultivation of GMO crops, it's generally agreed that the initiative represented all that is best about local democracy -- citizens coming together to address an issue that's important to them. And in the Mendocino case, it was an issue that is well-made for local governance, given how intimate food is, how uniquely attached to our sense of place."

Years ago, I read a guideline for the consumption of food: Eat nothing grown farther afield than what can be seen growing when viewed from the highest building in town.

The death of the Intelligence Panel

"The Republicans' idea of supervision involves saying the White House should get a warrant for spying whenever possible. Currently a warrant is needed, period. And that's the right law. The White House has not offered a scrap of evidence that it interferes with antiterrorist operations. Mr. Bush simply decided the law did not apply to him."

The chairman of the senate cover-up committee

"By voting down a sensible proposal offered by Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) to comprehensively review the spying program, Roberts failed once again to demonstrate he has the leadership to conduct the required oversight of the Bush administration. As Rockefeller said, 'This committee is basically under control of the White House.' It was 'no surprise that Mr. Roberts led this retreat;' he has been doing the 'president's dirty work' repeatedly over the past few years in his efforts to stonewall investigations into important national security matters."

GOP plan would allow spying without warrants

"Civil liberties advocates called the proposed oversight inadequate and the licensing of eavesdropping without warrants unnecessary and unwise. But the Republican senators who drafted the proposal said it represented a hard-wrung compromise with the White House, which strongly opposed any Congressional interference in the eavesdropping program."

Conduct unbecoming the commander-in-chief

"Under the Rules of War13 'The Law of Armed Conflict aims to protect civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick and shipwrecked. DoDD 5100.77 requires each military department to design a program that ensures LOAC observance, prevents LOAC violations, ensures prompt reporting of alleged LOAC violations, appropriately trains all forces in LOAC, and completes legal review of new weapons. LOAC training is the treaty obligation of the United States under provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions'

"The Bush-Cheney administration has carried out the destruction of Iraq violating the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter, the Law of Armed Conflict and patently commissioning through the chain of command violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Envoy to Iraq sees threat of wider war

"The top U.S. envoy to Iraq said Monday that the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime had opened a 'Pandora's box' of volatile ethnic and sectarian tensions that could engulf the region in all-out war if America pulled out of the country too soon."

Abu Ghraib to close, abuse to continue

"The move will do nothing to end the systematic abuse of Iraqi prisoners, which has been most closely associated with, but by no means limited to, the torture carried out at Abu Ghraib."

The court-martial of Willie Brand

"Brand told correspondent Scott Pelley what he did wasn’t torture, it was his training, authorized and supervised by his superiors. So how is it he was charged with assault, maiming and manslaughter?"

Iraq through the prism of Vietnam

"The Vietnam War had three phases. The War in Iraq has already completed an analogous first phase, is approaching the end of the second phase, and shows signs of entering the third."

8,000 desert during Iraq war

"Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. The Marine Corps does not track the number of desertions each year but listed 1,455 Marines in desertion status last September, the end of fiscal 2005, says Capt. Jay Delarosa, a Marine Corps spokesman."

Washington's "democracy" in Iraq hangs 13 political prisoners

"The execution Thursday of 13 Iraqi political prisoners, including a woman, was a calculated act of state terror against the resistance to the US occupation. The executions, all by hanging, were ordered by interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari to underscore his determination to hold onto power amid a political stalemate between rival factions in Baghdad."

US drumbeat against Iran threatens new war of aggression

"Such a claim is clearly ludicrous. The Iranian people, like the rest of the world, have looked with horror upon what the US invasion and occupation has wrought in neighboring Iraq, where over 100,000 civilians have been killed, basic economic and social life has been shattered and an American-dominated government rules through death squads and torture."

Canada still a 'refuge from militarism'?

"Meantime, new war resisters continue to flee to Canada. Some are living underground, and some are seeking official protection from a Canadian government that does not appear willing, at this time, to adopt the position of former premier, Pierre Trudeau, who more than 30 years ago said, 'Those who make the conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war ... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism.'"

I met the author, Mark Nykanen, in Oregon in the 80s. He now lives in Nelson, BC, a charming town where Roxanne was filmed.

Canada out of Afghanistan!

"A recent poll found that approximately 62 percent of Canadians think that our military intervention in Afghanistan is wrong, especially without any serious debate in the House of Commons or the news media. You can almost hear the establishment hit the alarm button. What is to be done?"

Hunger in America: 25 million depend on emergency food aid

"The brutal impact of social polarization and the protracted assault on the living standards of broad masses of working people was reflected in two recent reports documenting the deepening crisis of hunger in America."

Donald Rumsfeld makes $5m killing on bird flu drug

"Donald Rumsfeld has made a killing out of bird flu. The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease."

Lose your job for America

"But of course he didn't say it was painful for everyone. Wall Street and wealthy investors, the driving force behind the globalization/free-trade push that began in the 1990s, love the cheap labor and lax regulatory policies that exist in China and India. It is, however, a one-way street - how many Chinese companies do you see hiring workers in Freeport? And how many U.S. companies can compete in those Chinese markets when the Chinese manipulate their currency and pay workers pennies on the dollar?"

Retirement fund tapped to avoid national debt limit

"The Treasury Department has started drawing from the civil service pension fund to avoid hitting the $8.2 trillion national debt limit. The move to tap the pension fund follows last month's decision to suspend investments in a retirement savings plan held by government employees."

The numbers behind the lies

"Williams starts by discussing the headline economic data: 'Real unemployment right now -- figured the way that the average person thinks of unemployment, meaning figured the way it was estimated back during the Great Depression -- is running about 12%. Real CPI right now is running at about 8%. And the real GDP probably is in contraction.' (By "real," he means calculating the data the way they used to be calculated, not as inflation-adjusted.)"

Quotes from www.bartcop.com and others:

"It's breathtakingly cynical. Faced with a president who is almost certainly breaking the law, the Senate sets up a panel to watch him do it ...and calls that 'control'. " --NY Whore Times Editorial, Link

"Earlier today, Bush flew to New Orleans. There was an awkward moment when he looked around and said 'Oh my god, what the hell happened here?' " --Conan

"Ladies and gentlemen, one of the basic truths of the world is that George W. Bush is a man of his word." -- Dick Cheney, Link

"The republican Senate voted to reject a Democratic proposal to investigate Bush's domestic surveillance program and instead approved establishing a seven-member panel to oversee the effort. Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said that he had asked the committee 'to reject confrontation in favor of accommodation' and that the new subcommittee, which he described as 'an accommodation with the White House,' would 'conduct oversight of the terrorist surveillance program." -- Walter Pincus, "Senate Panel Blocks Eavesdropping Probe", Link

Each time the criminals rob a bank or muder someone, the senate rushes into session to either make robbery and murder legal or they get a fake promise from Bush that they won't rob or murder again, but then they do, and the Senate goes back into session again.

"The panel's vice chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), took a sharply different view of yesterday's outcome. 'The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House through its chairman,' he told reporters. 'At the direction of the White House, the Republican majority has voted down my motion to have a careful and fact-based review of Bush's eavesdropping activities inside the United States.'" -- Walter Pincus, Link

America has turned into a small town in the wild West, where the crooked bastard who owns the town has a crony become sheriff who then makes all the owner's crimes legal. As we've seen, there's no crime Bush can commit that would get his crooked ass arrested.

"The White House could just decide not to tell them everything, and there's no sanction. And the president can still claim that he has inherent power to conduct surveillance." -- Bruce Fein, a Reagan lawyer who believes that the NSA program is illegal, on the Senate voting not to investigate Dubya's secret spy program, Link

"Iran is currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future
of Iraq. And we know it." -- Rumsfeld, setting up their next invasion, Link

"Bush speaks to the audience as if they're idiots. I think the reason he does that is because that's the way these issues were explained to him." -- Graydon Carter, on Dubya, Link

"Too many bills passed by Congress include unnecessary spending." -- Thrill-Killa Dubya, confessing that he stole billions from the Treasury? No, he wants the line-item veto, so he can steal billions from the Treasury while doing away with hot lunch programs for inner-city schoolkids, Link

Worse than that, every time the bank gets robbed, bank security gets a medal for "Job well done."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Serf's up!

Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Global Eye

"Thus, the sudden, hugger-mugger decision by California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to override the objections of his own experts and certify the eminently hackable voting machines of the politically partisan firm, Diebold, for use throughout the state means, quite simply, that the fix is in for 2008. It doesn't matter who the Democrats run -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, George Clooney or Jesus H. Christ in an Uncle Sam suit. It won't make a bit of difference. California is lost, the presidency is lost and the Bushists are in -- already. It's over."

Harper's Weekly Review

With bipartisan support, US Senate agrees to Patriot Act renewal

"The new agreement will permanently extend most of the Patriot Act’s provisions that would otherwise expire, while making only insignificant changes to a law that has become symbolic worldwide of the attack on democratic rights."

Resolution to impeach Bush - Cheney passes 7-3

"On Tuesday, February 28, 2006, the City and County of San Francisco became the first large municipality to call for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney, by a 7-3 vote."

Republican congressman predicts Bush impeachment

"Republican Congressman Ron Paul has gone on record with his prediction that the impeachment of George W. Bush is right around the corner but warned that in the meantime the US was slipping perilously close to a dictatorship."

The case for impeachment

This is a longer excerpt from the Lewis Lapham essay I cited last week.

What Bush was told about Iraq

"Two highly classified intelligence reports delivered directly to President Bush before the Iraq war cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, according to records and knowledgeable sources."

Lethal 'flying gunships' returning to Iraq : Armed airplanes used in Vietnam war secretly moved to Iraq

"The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes — the lethal “flying gunships” of the Vietnam War — to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned."

Von Rumsfeld loves the smell of cordite in the morning . . . noon . . . evening.

US troops in Iraq: 72% say end war in 2006

"An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows."

US commander says Iraq crisis has passed

"While Gen. George Casey said anything can happen, he downplayed suggestions the country is headed for civil war."

I enjoyed watching the good general on C-Span . . . the salt and pepper hair . . . the chiseled jaw . . . the bullshit. A Westmoreland moment.

Fmr. UN official: Human rights abuses worse now than under Saddam . . .

"John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths."

US seeks funds to build prisons in Iraq

"The U.S. State Department is winding down its $20 billion reconstruction program in Iraq and the only new rebuilding money in its latest budget request is for prisons, officials said on Tuesday."

In the parallel universe of Iraq, it will likely end up with more people in prison per capita than any other country on the planet . . . except the US.

US postwar planning for Iraq almost nonexistent

"The report from the SIGIR office confirms what previous media reports had already highlighted. In a piece from October 2004 entitled 'Pre-war planning was non-existent,' Knight Ridder reported on a meeting held at a US Air Force base just days before the start of the war in March 2003. The meeting was held to discuss the plans to oust Mr. Hussein and restore democracy in Iraq. When the presentation came to the subejct of postwar Iraq, the slide being shown said 'To Be Provided.'"

New leadership crisis as Iraq descends into anarchy

"Leaders of three parties, including Sunnis, Kurds and the secularists of the former prime minister Iyad Allawi, agreed on Wednesday to ask the main Shia bloc to withdraw Mr Jaafari's nomination for prime minister. Shia officials confirmed receiving a letter asking them to put forward a new candidate."

Baghdad official who exposed executions flees

"Faik Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, has fled Iraq in fear of his life after reporting that more than 7,000 people have been killed by death squads in recent months, the outgoing head of the UN human rights office in Iraq has disclosed."

Freedom is on the march!

Iraq's death squads: On the brink of civil war

"John Pace, who left Baghdad two weeks ago, told The Independent on Sunday that up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior."

US cites exception in torture ban

"Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison."

On torture and being "good Americans"

"I never dreamed at that moment that I, as an American, would a few years later face this same question as my government committed mass murder of civilians in Indochina in violation of the Nuremberg Principles. Or that more than four decades later I would still be struggling with what it means to be a 'good American' after learning that a group of U.S. leaders has unilaterally seized the right to torture anyone it chooses without evidence and in violation of international law, human decency, and the sacrifice of the many Americans who have died fighting autocracy and totalitarianism."

Terrorist growth overtakes US efforts

"Thirty new terrorist organizations have emerged since the September 11, 2001, attacks, outpacing U.S. efforts to crush the threat, said Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the Pentagon's deputy director for the war on terrorism.

"'We are not killing them faster than they are being created,' Gen. Caslen told a gathering at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday, warning that the war could take decades to resolve."

So what he's saying is that after three years of this phony war, we've created enemies faster than we can kill them, and in many decades this deabcle will be successful because . . . ?

White House delays release of study showing toxic rocket fuel in most Americans

"Following a published report that the Bush Administration is holding up a study that shows most Americans carry a toxic rocket fuel chemical in their bodies at levels close to federal safety limits, Environmental Working Group (EWG) is calling for the immediate release of the study so EPA and state agencies can take steps to protect the public."

I'm glad I wasn't born later.

Midwest oil fined for selling gas too cheaply

"The Minnesota Commerce Department on Thursday announced plans to fine a gas station chain $140,000 for repeatedly selling gas below the state's legal minimum price."

It's good to know one's place.

Loss of Antarctic ice increases

"Two new satellite surveys show that warming air and water are causing Antarctica to lose ice faster than it can be replenished by interior snowfall, and thus are contributing to rising global sea levels."

Flying is dying

"There is no way to halt global warming and continue traveling long distances at high speeds. The only solution is to stop flying in airplanes."

Bush plan would raise deficit by $1.2 trillion, budget office says

"President Bush's budget would increase the federal deficit by $35 billion this year and by more than $1.2 trillion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Friday."

When $8.81 trillion isn't enough

"Yesterday, Treasury officials told Senate aides that without an increase in the nation's $8.18 trillion debt limit, the government 'would default on obligations for the first time in history sometime during the week of March 20.' The Senate will have to take up the issue soon since 'federal default is considered unimaginable because it would rattle bond markets, force interest rates higher and shake the economy.' The debt limit increase to around $9 trillion would be the fourth increase in five years. 'I don't think the leadership wants to have any debate on this, and I think the reason is pretty clear,' Finance Committee ranking member Max Baucus (D-MT) told CongressDaily. 'It's embarrassing.'"

Banana republic.

Incomes fall, hunger worsens as Bush says 'we're doing fine'

"Within days, however, the Federal Reserve reported that average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually had fallen between 2001 and 2004."

Quotes from http://www.bartcop.com/ and others:

"I spend a lot of time worrying about disruption of energy because tyrants control the spigots." -- Dubya, the world's most evil tyrant, Link

"I thought it was going to help. I thought it would help remind people that if Osama didn't want me to be president, something must be right with me."
--Dubya, on why his friend Osama released a tape 5 days before the election, Link

"The president said, 'I need to hear from Brown right now what's going on.' I said, 'Mr. President, my estimate is that 90 percent -- 90 percent -- of the population of New Orleans has now been displaced.' And there was just that split second of silence. And [then], '90 percent?' 'Yes sir, that's how bad it is.' "
-- Brownie, Link

"Listen, we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground. Communications systems got wiped out, and in many cases we were relying upon the media..."
-- Dubya, lying again to ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, Link

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a person's character, give him power."
-- Abe Lincoln, who knew Bush's ilk in the 1850s

"FOX News and other Republican surrogates have so prostituted what it means to be a journalist - including using real prostitutes as journalists - that any journalist with an opinion is now suspect. The GOP sycophants have so crossed the line into pro-government propaganda that anyone who tries to criticize government is considered equally, if not more, suspect."
-- John Aravosis,Link

"Every prediction the President made about this war has proven to be false, while virtually every prediction made by war opponents has proven to be true. The President and his followers controlled every part of this war with an iron fist and insisting on the right to exert full-scale, undiluted control over it. And now it has failed. And it’s everyone’s fault except theirs."
-- Glenn Greenwald, Link

"Cheney accused Democrats of wanting to offer 'therapy' to the terrorists. Now he wants to do business with them."
--Alan S, Link

"Until now terrorists had no means of delivering their weapons to the US except through the theft of an airplane or two. Now they have access to every ship entering American thanks to King George, the Duke of Dubai."
-- Clyde the Ripper, Link

"Apparently, Bush did not know about this whole ports thing until the story broke in the newspapers. You know, you could say Reagan was asleep at the switch. At least he knew there was a switch."
-- Bill Maher

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
-- Steven Weinberg, Link

Subject: It seems there was one child left behind! Can the English language survive?

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
- George W. Bush"

If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
- George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
- George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
- George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
- George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
- George W. Bush"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
- George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."
- George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
- George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
- George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
- George W. Bush

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
- George W. Bush

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- George W. Bush