Picks Commentary

Monday, May 29, 2006

In Memorium

Memorial Daze

I often think the universe operates in mysterious ways. Yesterday, I was at a high school graduation party for a neighbor's daughter. Not knowing many of the people in attendance, I happened to find myself at a table where it seemed congenial enough to eat my grilled chicken, beans, etc. We were outside, and at the head of my table was a kindly looking gentlemen whose vintage was greater than mine.

After most of us were finished eating, the older, guy, Bill, and I started talking. During WWII, he enlisted in the Navy in early 1945 at the age of 19. Which makes him, I believe, 80. He joined the Navy because he didn't want to be in a foxhole. He was still in training at the end of the war.
Bill said one day an officer addressed he and his comrades with an offer. Anyone who wanted to leave the service could step forward and be discharged from service. Those who stayed put would have the opportunity to go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. This was after both the European and Japanese conflicts were over. Bill stayed stood his ground and began an unexpected Naval career that lasted until 1981.

The more I talked with Bill, the more I liked him. He didn't have a military mindset; he was just a regular guy who found himself in a career he hadn't really thought about. But as we talked, it was apparent the pew he found himself in was to his liking.

He served on ships until 1957, and from then on, he was able to live with his family in various postings around the globe. What intrigued me the most was that he was a cryptographer. And he worked closely with the NSA. Naturally, I couldn't keep my mouth shut and asked him about his views regarding the massive surveillance of Americans. He said quite forcefully, "It should have happened 20 years ago." I thought the congenial conversation was over. But I held my ground, saying I thought it was a mistake. Then, Bill, said two things that confirmed my initial feeling about liking the cut of his jib. "Well", he said, "you have to have a government you can trust, and the second amendment has to be firmly enforced."

This pleasant old man and I stayed on track, and were able to remain seated and talking until his wife came and gathered him up.

Harper's Weekly Review

Listening in by Seymour Hersh

"Last December, the Times reported that the N.S.A. was listening in on calls between people in the United States and people in other countries, and a few weeks ago USA Today reported that the agency was collecting information on millions of private domestic calls. A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. 'What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,' the consultant said. 'They’re providing total access to all the data.'"

Why we published the AT&T docs

"AT&T claims information in the file is proprietary and that it would suffer severe harm if it were released.

"Based on what we've seen, Wired News disagrees. In addition, we believe the public's right to know the full facts in this case outweighs AT&T's claims to secrecy.

"As a result, we are publishing the complete text of a set of documents from the EFF's primary witness in the case, former AT&T employee and whistle-blower Mark Klein -- information obtained by investigative reporter Ryan Singel through an anonymous source close to the litigation. The documents, available on Wired News as of Monday, consist of 30 pages, with an affidavit attributed to Klein, eight pages of AT&T documents marked 'proprietary,' and several pages of news clippings and other public information related to government-surveillance issues."

Verizon refuses to come clean about wire-tapping

"In a tight-lipped 44-page response to the PUC last Friday, Verizon argued that the Commission lacks the authority to investigate a complaint that the telephone company was involved in the NSA program. The company further claimed such information is protected by the 'state-secrets privilege.'"

End the hostile takeover

"In his new book, Hostile Takeover, David Sirota unleashes a stinging 300-page indictment of a system corrupted almost beyond recognition. We have a government in which the greater good is subsumed by corporate interests day in and day out, and where political discourse itself is framed by those very interests; we end up discussing everything but the reasons why average Americans are worse off than they were 30 years ago."

Sirota coins a word I haven't heard and is precisely on target . . . "corporatocracy."

Republicans, incumbents receive large majority of oil lobby cash

"Eighty four percent of the $8.6 million oil and gas companies have contributed to the 2006 elections has gone to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

US public widely distrusts its leaders

"Three out of four (75%) said they trust government less than they did five years ago, just 5% said they think corporations do right by the consumers they are in business to serve, and only 25% feel the reporting is fair and accurate in the newspapers they read or the nightly broadcast network news they watch on television. Nearly 60% said they believe the 'state of honesty in America' today is in poor shape (18% said it is in the worst possible shape).

A nation in chains by Chris Floyd

"With the world's attention understandably diverted by the latest scandals and shameless posturings of the Bush Faction – domestic spying, bribes and hookers at the CIA, military units roaring down to the border to scare unarmed poor people looking for work – few noticed a small story that cast a harsh, penetrating light on the corrosion of the national character.

"Earlier this month, the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London released its annual World Prison Population List. And there, standing proudly at the head of the line, towering far above all others, is that shining city on the hill, the United States of America. But strangely enough, the Bush gang and its many media sycophants failed to celebrate – or even note – yet another instance where a triumphant America leads the world. Where are the cheering hordes shouting 'USA! USA!' at the news that the land of the free imprisons more people than any other country in the world – both in raw numbers and as a percentage of its population?"

FCC chief says won't probe NSA call program

"The Federal Communications Commission will not pursue complaints about a U.S. spy agency's access to millions of telephone records because it cannot obtain classified material, the FCC chairman said in a letter released on Tuesday."

Everything seems to be a secret . . . except for our personal and private lives.

Intelligence czar can waive SEC rules

"President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye."

BushCo declared war on democracy and the people in 2001; it's time the people responded in kind . . . Serfs up!

Bush's garroting of democracy

"Over the past weekend, George W. Bush and his Justice Department signaled to the U.S. press corps and Congress that they are not beyond the reach of Bush’s 'plenary' – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief or his authority as 'unitary executive,' deciding what laws to enforce and how."

The snooping goes beyond phone calls: How the government sidesteps the Privacy Act ny purchasing commercial data

"Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules. The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts how federal agencies may use such information and requires disclosure of what the government is doing with it. But the law applies only when the government is doing the data collecting."'Grabbing data wholesale from the private sector is the way agencies are getting around the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment,' says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and a member of the Homeland Security Dept.'s Data Privacy & Integrity Advisory Committee."

Studs Terkel, others sue AT&T over release of records

"The six plaintiffs, whose legal team includes lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, claim the telephone giant violated the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which prevents phone companies from releasing records to the government unless there is an emergency.

"The lawsuit, filed in federal district court, seeks to include all Illinois AT&T customers as plaintiffs in a class action. The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages."

Eavesdropping, gagging, and the Constitution by Ray McGovern

"Thursday's slick but evasive testimony by Gen. Mike Hayden, the president's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, put the spotlight on Hayden's personal role in an aggressive NSA program that skirts strict 30-year-old legal restrictions on eavesdropping on American citizens. As NSA director from 1999 to 2005, Hayden did the White House's bidding in devising and implementing that program without adequately informing Congress - as required by law. When an unauthorized disclosure revealed the program to the press, Hayden agreed to play point-man with smoke and mirrors. Small wonder that the White House considers him the perfect man for the CIA job."

If you've used a telephone in the last five years, read this

Don't spy on me: Tell the FCC to get the spies off the line

"It's illegal and un-American for your phone company to hand your call records to the government without a warrant. But that's just what they're doing, violating the privacy and rights of millions of innocent Americans in the process."

For telecoms, a storm of lawsuits awaits

"The forecast for major US phone companies this spring: continued heat, with a 100 percent chance of gathering lawsuits.

"From New York to Kentucky to Texas, lawyers specializing in class-action litigation are lining up to sue phone firms alleged to have handed over customer records to the National Security Agency without a court order. On Monday, for instance, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed suit against AT&T, charging that its actions in the NSA program violated customer privacy."

Justice Dept. seeks to block suits on spying

"The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss two lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets."

Public hearings sough in phone record scandal

"Anticipating that the U.S. federal government would invoke the so-called 'state secrets' privilege to block any lawsuit calling for the disclosure of details about allegations that phone companies shared customer records with the government's biggest spy agency, a major civil rights group has embarked on an alternate course."

Join the ACLU www.aclu.org.

Who's spying on us? Rumsfeld's Pentagon takes the lead

"While claiming that they must 'secure' America for a post-9/11 world, the BushCheney zealots are taking us back to a pre-1776 world. They have been astonishingly successful in a remarkably short time, insidiously taking autocratic step after step, which a compliant Congress and the establishment media have mostly missed, ignored, minimalized—or applauded. These two 'institutions of vigilance' have failed us. So it is up to We The People to assert ourselves against this dangerous rise of authoritarianism in Bush's America."

The war on the free press

"JOURNALISTS. Get the rack ready! Our attorney general is coming for us, snarling like a guard dog at Abu Ghraib."

Bloody scenes haunt a Marine

"Briones, a wiry, soft-spoken 21-year-old interviewed Sunday at his family home in this Central Valley city, said he was not among the small group of Marines that military investigators have concluded killed the civilians, including children, women and elderly men."However, Briones, who goes by Ryan, said he took photographs of the victims and helped carry their bodies out of their homes as part of the cleanup crew sent in late in the afternoon on the day of the killings."

Murtha on Iraq: 'There's not only no progress, it's worse than it was prewar'

"[T]here’s not only no progress, it’s worse than it was prewar. this thing has been mishandled so badly. The American people needed to hear. we’re spending $450 billion on this war by the end of the year, $9 billion a month, and so we need to change course."

Armed groups propel Iraq toward chaos

"Such is the country that the new Iraqi leaders who took office Saturday are inheriting. The headlong, American-backed effort to arm tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and officers, coupled with a failure to curb a nearly equal number of militia gunmen, has created a galaxy of armed groups, each with its own loyalty and agenda, which are accelerating the country's slide into chaos."

Insurgents keep US at bay in Ramadi

"Whole neighborhoods are lawless, too dangerous for police. Some roads are so bomb-laden that U.S. troops won't use them. Guerrillas attack U.S. troops nearly every time they venture out -- and hit their bases with gunfire, rockets or mortars when they don't. "Though not powerful enough to overrun U.S. positions, insurgents here in the heart of the Sunni Muslim triangle have fought undermanned U.S. and Iraqi forces to a virtual stalemate."

War provoking terror, Amnesty says

"'The war on terror and the way it has unfolded actually is premised on the principle that by eroding human rights you can reinforce security,' Khan said. 'And that is why as part of the war on terror we see restrictions being placed on civil liberties around the world.'"
All wars, even "good" wars, promote terror; bad wars amplify it.

Amnesty compares Bush to Pinochet

"Amnesty International says President George Bush's tactics in his fight against terrorists have made the United States comparable to Augusto Pinochet's Chile and Hafez Assad's Syria in its acceptance of torture and disregard of legal restraints."

Certain victory keeps US in Iraq, says Bush

"President Bush said today that he would pull U.S. troops out of Iraq if he didn't think the United States could win the war against terrorism."

Evil moron.

Bush calls for Saddam execution

"'This is a disgusting tyrant who deserves... the ultimate justice,' he said in a US television interview."

Speaking of disgusting (and inept) tyrants who deserve to swing . . . .

Final curtain for Bush and Blair

"In one of its perhaps less elegant wordplays, the Economist magazine declared that the two now constituted as 'an axis of feeble.'"

Iraqi minister backs Iran on nuclear research

"Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari of Iraq today endorsed the right of Iran to pursue the 'technological and scientific capabilities' needed to create nuclear power for peaceful purposes, in the first high-level meeting between officials from the new Iraqi government and its eastern neighbor."

Wrong display of democracy.

Global Eye

"This savage ethos, forged in the dehumanizing crucible of total war, has prevailed against all the many attempts to change it. Even Ellsberg's discovery did little to return the Pentagon, and the nuclear arsenal, to civilian control. The 'whiz kid' McNamara, who by then had become Pentagon chief, demanded a more 'humane' attack strategy. But his call for greater precision in targeting required a whole new generation of deadlier, more sophisticated weapons. The Soviets, who had only four -- four! -- intercontinental missiles when Kennedy took office, felt pressured to respond in kind to the sudden U.S. buildup. This in turn fueled more 'countermeasures' by the Pentagon and its procurement partners. Far from easing tensions, the world moved even closer to nuclear conflagration."

This is a good one to read through. Floyd is commenting on a new book, House of War: The Pentagon and Disastrous rise of American power by James Carroll.

ElBaradei: "Nuclear feeds nuclear"

"'Nuclear feeds nuclear. As long as certain countries continue to insist on the indispensable character of nuclear weapons for their security, other countries will want to procure them. It is impossible to escape this simple truth,' declared the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general."

Hold on. You mean there is danger in allowing peace loving countries like the US, UK and Israel that are led by wise leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair to have nucular weapons? Stop the presses!

US sets up 215 million pound deal for Afghan arms - from Russia

"American defence officials have secretly requested a 'prodigious quantity' of ammunition from Russia to supply the Afghan army in case a Democrat president takes over in Washington and pulls out US troops."

It wasn't Putin's soul that Smirk "sensed"; it was ammo. Interestingly, the article says the deal involves 78 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition. So, if you take these bullets and combine them with the 200,000 missing AK-47s referenced in the article following, that's 390 rounds per weapon. Connecting the dots in the Bush Family Evil Empire, and one doesn't even have to tap a phone.

US in secret gun deal

"According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient."

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a line from the film, Lord of War, about the AK-47 being the true weapon of mass destruction. I was looking for data to get some idea of the projected death rate, on average, from one AK-47. A number probably exists somewhere, but I couldn't find it. However I did come across a chapter from a book that had this:

"Small arms, explosives and incendiaries are the weapons used in most terrorist acts. While the use of non-conventional weapons -- weapons of mass destruction -- must not be ignored, small arms, explosives and incendiaries have had a more significant impact so far, as recorded terrorist events in recent years demonstrate." Another source said that in third world countries an AK-47 can be purchased for around $6.00. Anyway, 200,000 AK-47s represent a lot of potential mayhem. And in another article I read that pre-2001 Afghanistan was already known as the "Kalashnikov Kulture." So much so that local gunsmiths can craft an AK-47 from memory.

Will your vote count in 2006? 'When you're using a paperless voting system, there is no security,' says Stanford's David Dill

"Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth, here comes more disturbing news about the trustworthiness of electronic touchscreen ballot machines. Earlier this month a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines that are currently entrusted to faithfully record the votes of millions of Americans."

One man's constitutional crisis . . .

"Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives have achieved an almost unprecedented level of bipartisanship in denouncing the F.B.I.'s search of a congressman's office. They talk angrily about the separation of powers and the implications of having an executive branch agency make a foray into a lawmaker's official space. Our first question is where all these concerned constitutionalists have been for the last five years."

Gonzales said he would quit in raid dispute

"Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress."

Alberto Torquemada said, Separation of powers? I'm outta here!"

Zogby poll: Over 70 million American adults support new 9/11 investigation

"According to Janice Matthews, executive director of 911truth.org, 'To those who have followed the mounting evidence for US government involvement in 9/11, these results are both heartening and frankly quite amazing, given the mainstream media's ongoing refusal to cover the most critical questions of that day. Our August 2004 Zogby poll of New Yorkers showed nearly half believe certain US officials 'consciously' allowed the attacks to happen and 66% want a fresh investigation, but these were people closest to the tragedy and most familiar with facts refuting the official account. This revelation that so many millions nationwide now also recognize a 9/11 cover up and the need for a new inquiry should be a wake up call for all 2006 political candidates hoping to turn this country around. We think it also indicates Americans are awakening to the larger pattern of deceit that led us into Constitutional twilight and endless war, and that our independent media may have finally come of age.'"

View of a military expert: Why the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed

"Destruction of the towers by explosions is clear according to the photographs and reports of the eye witnesses. In the picture below, a range of cutting charges have just exploded in the down left sector and a typical white cloud is formed outwards from the wall. Down right, explosions are seen as well. Even a flame is seen."

Let's not forget the structural steel (forensic evidence) from the site was shipped to Asia for scrap while the wreckage was still smoldering.

Beyond Halliburton

"We’re talking about double-billing for hauling the same debris, hauling extra debris to boost reimbursements, overstating mileage—the same old tricks. As a neat touch, inspectors found that Army Corps of Engineers officials had an 'informal agreement' not to challenge bills that exceeded estimates by 50 percent.

"So why is this storyline so achingly familiar? Politically well-connected company gets massive no-bid contract to do re-construction work in New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan—wherever. Without any real accountability, said contractor runs up excessive costs for taxpayers. Sometimes the public gets upset; sometimes a wrist gets slapped. But in the end nothing changes."

Ouch! How 'money driven medicine,' abuse cost us $1.8 trillion

"Health-care costs ballooned to $1.8 trillion in 2005, or 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product last year, from about 7 percent in 1970. Soaring costs are a big reason why 48 million Americans have no health insurance and U.S. companies that subsidize their employees' health care have yet another disadvantage compared with overseas competitors."

The Al Capone of electricity: Ken Lay will get away with his real crimes by Greg Palast

"And just as Capone went up the river leaving us a permanent legacy of organized crime, so Lay, whether or not he's sent to the slammer, has left us, with the connivance of a few well-placed politicos, an electricity system that is little more than a playground for power-industry predators."

Bush's Enron Lies

"Bush’s defenders will probably reprise that storyline now that former Enron Chairman Lay and former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling stand convicted of conspiracy and fraud in the plundering of the onetime energy-trading giant. But the reality is that the Bush-can’t-be-bought spin was never true.

"For instance, the documentary evidence is now clear that in summer 2001 – at the same time Bush’s National Security Council was ignoring warnings about an impending al-Qaeda terrorist attack – NSC adviser Condoleezza Rice was personally overseeing a government-wide task force to pressure India to give Enron as much as $2.3 billion."

Global warming predictions are underestimated say scientists

"British efforts to combat climate change have focused on preventing carbon dioxide levels rising above 450 parts per million, equivalent to a rise of 2C. If the world warms by more than this, many climate experts believe fragile ecosystems will be pushed beyond their "tipping point", triggering runaway global warming."

The human ecological footprint

"In 1972 there was still time to achieve a major course correction in the human journey. That opportunity is no longer available. Several studies confirm that the human ecological footprint now exceeds the regenerative carrying capacity of the planet, and our civilization is rapidly approaching a discontinuity unprecedented in history(6)."

In 1972 I read Limits to Growth published by the Club of Rome and was fascinated by the study. It's no surprise now that people in the US are scavenging for copper, stealing it from construction sites and power lines. It's going to get very ugly, I'm afraid.

Bush snubs Gore film on global warming

"Is President Bush likely to see Al Gore's documentary about global warming? "'Doubt it,' Bush said coolly Monday."

Unlike the ostrich, Bush has his head up his ass.

GOA report faults voluntary programs to cut air pollution: Study says administration had not ensured that firms set, meet goals

"The Bush administration's voluntary programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry have yet to deliver promised results, according to a report issued yesterday by the Government Accountability Office."

This reminds me of the old joke about using the honor system in schools to prevent cheating. The schools have the honor; the students have the system.

Collapse of the petrodollar looming

"The announcement by President Putin of a Russian bourse trading oil and gas in Roubles threatens the stability of the US Dollar far more than Iran's bourse alone would do, and continues the slide in relations between the old Cold War foes."In his annual State of the Nation address to both houses of parliament on 10 May 2006, Novosti reports President Putin said that work on making the Rouble an internationally convertible currency would be completed by 1 July 2006, six months ahead of schedule. To promote the currency, he announced that an oil and gas stock exchange will be created in Russia, that would trade in Roubles."

OECD warns rebalancing of US deficit may drive dollar down sharply

"The OECD has warned that the eventual rebalancing of the US current account gap 'looks increasingly unavoidable' and will send shock waves across the globe, starting with a slump in the dollar's exchange rate. "The OECD said in its world economic outlook that the depreciation faced by the dollar could be 'of the order of one-third to one-half.'"

Whoa, Nelly!

Quotes from www.bartcop.com:

"It should have been very obvious to us." -- Tony Blair, on the insurgency in Iraq, Link

"Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing." -- Dubya, who has no problem with sacrificing 2500 lives for a lost cause, Link

"Most of the criticism...has centered not so much on Bush's blustery language as the underlying message. Bush was talking tough when other people's lives were at stake, not his. Many members of the military saw it as a taunt that invited more attacks on U.S. soldiers. And most significantly, Bush was completely underestimating what was still ahead: Well over 2,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since then, with no end in sight. There was no regret for his fundamental misunderstanding of the costs to come." -- Dan Froomkin, Link

"When FBI agents reach into a congressman's home freezer and pull out $90,000 in foil-wrapped bills, it is time for him to resign. When the Justice Department announces that the same congressman is on videotape taking a $100,000 bribe in a Virginia hotel garage, his resignation is overdue. -- Joe Conason, taking about Rep Jefferson's bribe problems Link

"Before entering heaven, (please) George W. Bush must spend a few years in a special purgatory where all inmates are required to watch Baghdad ER non-stop." -- former Senator Gary Hart, Link

"There may come a time when I speak on that but it’s not now; I need more time to frame it carefully if I do. In our system, there’s no intermediate step between a definitive Supreme Court decision and violent revolution." -- Al Gore, saying six years isn't enough time to decide if his election was stolen, Link

"I understand the reporters have a job to do. I talk to them every day. I don't like what they write, but they don't like what I say." -- Murder Monkey, Link But Monkey, that's not true - they don't write what you say. They write what Karl Rove tells them you intended to say.

"A Louisiana state Senate committee unanimously approved a ban on cock fighting, in what appears to be a first step in outlawing gay marriage" -- Amy Poehler, SNL season ender
"George W. Bush is the worst president of our lifetime, and absolutely worse than Watergate-tainted Nixon." -- John Edwards to Judas Maximus Link

"The audio version of Colbert screwing Bush rose to No. 1 at iTunes three weeks to the night of the White House Correspondents Dinner." -- Noam Cohen, Link

"Many myths surround Hoffa's disappearance. Some say he is buried in the end zone of Giants' stadium. Some say he was dumped in Lake Michigan. Some think he is alive and in New Hampshire having an affair with a volunteer fireman that he calls 'Johnnycakes.' So 31 years later, they're s till looking for Jimmy Hoffa. That means they'll find Osama bin Laden in 2037." -- Jon Stewart

"The Republican Party has been reduced to one principle – its own power. It protects the Bush regime from accountability and covers up its lies and misdeeds. Under the myths and lies that enshroud 9/11, the Democrats have collapsed as an opposition party." -- Paul Craig Roberts, Link

"You have no civil liberties if you are dead." --Sen. Pat Roberts, explaining why Americans have lost their civil liberties under Bush Link

"I think Iraq is finished. We’ll just find a way to get out. I frankly don’t think we ever intended to win there. We certainly didn’t send enough troops to close borders, to control the country." --Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit, Link The BFEE [Bush Family Evil Empire] can't make any money with order - they need chaos. If we won the war and controlled the country, reporters could see that the primary job of our troops is to get Bush's 2M barrels a day safely to Kuwait.

"Hayden's involvement in the NSA's domestic spying program disqualifies him from heading the CIA. His answers to questions from Congress and the press have been evasive at best and downright false at worst." --Howard Dean, telling the truth again. Will the democrats scold him for that? Link

"Because we're at war and war unsettles people." -- Monkey, when asked why his approval rating is lower than Nixon's before he resigned, Link

"Yes, especially those wars of choice premised on fabrications and cherry-picked information. Yeah, you got that right, that's unsettling." -- AngryMexicano, Link

"Part of my charm is that I always tell people things they don't want to hear." -- Antonin 'Three Fingers' Scalia, Link Tony, you mean like that time when you told the lady reporter to go [screw] herself at church?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I do declare!

The Declaration of Independence Revised, May 21, 2006

In the 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 everything is different now, terror, terror, terror, deficit embracing, offshored jobs, declining healthcare, no safety net, culture of corruption world we live in, this is the new Declaration of Independence.

"When in the Course of corporate events, it becomes necessary for one corporate empowered political leader to dissolve the political bands which have connected people with one another, and to assume the powers of the earth under the auspices of the three branches of government of these United States and the fundamentalist Christian God, it becomes necessary for the people to accept the hegemony of the corporate profit motive as the raison d'etre for the existence of all forms of organic and inorganic matter on this planet.

"CEOs hold these truths to be self evident, corporate executives are created special and separate, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Wealth Beyond Reason and Imagining. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Corporate leaders, deriving their just powers from the consent and complicity of politically elected, appointed, and compensated facilitators, --That whenever any Form of Governance threatens to destroy these ends, it is the Right of the Corporate Body to alter or to abolish the threat, 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 profitability. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should be easily changed by Presidential Orders and Signing Statements; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by this new form of government to which they are already accustomed. And while a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the right of Corporations, it is their duty, to maintain such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Corporations; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter former Systems of Government. The history of the former democratically inspired presidents, representatives, senators, court justices is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute Tyranny over these Corporations."

Dems: Shed corporate cash

"But unless Democratic office-holders shuck their reliance on corporate cash and return to fighting for working families, says David Sirota, his party will be better off losing.

"The nation’s capital is steeped in corruption, the progressive polemist says, and replacing corrupted Republicans with corrupted Democrats is no solution at all."

Good grief! Don't let morality interfere with profiteering! (Scroll down)

"His [Jim Hightower's] humor is both sharp and refreshing, and he infuses it heavily into his written works, making palatable even the most horrible of subjects. One of my favorite ideas of his is the Candidate Stickers; just like racecar drivers wear patches and stickers showing their sponsors, so should our politicians. Hightower paints a very funny picture of a debate with sticker-covered candidates, the only part that is not so funny is that while we argue party against party, the candidates are wearing the same corporate logos on their 1K suits."

This is from a review of the Jim Hightower book, There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.

Reports expose myth of upward social mobility in US

"As far as intergenerational mobility is concerned, it is not only the children of the poor in the US who have little chance of becoming wealthy. Children born in the middle quintile (the 40-60th percentile of incomes in the country, $42,000 to $54,300) also have only a 1.8 percent chance of reaching the top five percent, a likelihood not much higher than in poor families. These findings were based on a study of over 4,000 children whose parents’ income was determined in 1968 and whose own income was then reviewed as adults in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999."

Harper's Weekly Review

The show must not go on

"It doesn't matter if it's apologists defending the latest incomprehensible Republican screw-up or Bush's schizophrenic immigration policy. The MO is predictably the same. Some right wing Bozo comes out on a carefully managed stage with a spiel so ridiculous that it would really be more appropriate if presented by a guy pedaling a unicycle and juggling GOP talking points to circus music in full clown regalia, while a mini-Karl Rove chatters around grinding an organ and holding out a cup. It doesn't matter if the clown falls off his unicycle over and over and drops all the talking points. Someone stage right-wing will throw him new talking points to juggle, and he'll just pretend they're the same ones he started with. It doesn't matter if the clown kills a few audience members in the process or sets the big tent on fire. None of that will be mentioned and the reviews will be rave."

Iran, Bush & Nuremberg

"What has been perhaps most mind-boggling about George W. Bush's presidency is its consistent inconsistency on the application of law, both at home and abroad. Bush demands respect for the law from U.S. citizens and lectures foreign countries on the need to abide by international norms, while simultaneously flouting the rules when they apply to him or his administration.

"For instance, Vice President Dick Cheney upbraided Russia for its use of economic power -- i.e. control of energy -- to coerce a neighbor, but Bush goes even beyond economic power, to include military might, to force countries to do what Bush wants, with the unprovoked invasion of Iraq the most notable example, followed now by the implicit threat of an attack against Iran."

Senate hearing on CIA nominee: Democrats rubberstanp Bush police-state spying

"Not one senator, on the Intelligence Committee or off it, will acknowledge the basic truth that the Bush administration is a far greater threat to the democratic rights of the American people than all the terrorists in the world. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda may be capable of terrible crimes, but they cannot impose a totalitarian dictatorship in the United States. That threat comes solely from the American ruling elite and its military-intelligence apparatus."

NSA phone spying program: a blueprint for mass repression

"The press coverage has sought to obscure the vast scale of the data-gathering, as well as the political purposes to which it can be used, in order to lend credence to the Bush administration’s claim that the operation is targeted exclusively at suspected terrorists linked to Al Qaeda. There has not been a single serious media commentary questioning why a supposedly 'narrowly focused' program should collect data on an estimated 225 million Americans. Nor has there been any suggestion that the real purpose of the spy program is to assemble a database on the political affiliations and activities of a wide range of American citizens."

Bowing to the police state

"Is Congress aiding and abetting the creation of a police state? Recently, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., helped to give the CIA and NSA unprecedented police powers. By inserting a provision in the FY07 Intelligence Authorization Act, Hoekstra has undermined the existing statutory limits on involvement in domestic law enforcement. This comes after revelations in January of direct NSA involvement with the Baltimore police in order to 'protect' the NSA Headquarters from Quaker protesters."

US to use lasers on drivers in Iraq

"The pilot project would equip thousands of M-4 rifles with the 10 ½-inch-long weapon, which projects an intense beam of green light to 'dazzle' the vision of oncoming drivers.

"'I think this is going to make a huge difference in avoiding these confrontations,' said Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the commander in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq. 'I promise you no one — no one — will be able to ignore it.'"

Blindness, temporary or otherwise, would get one's attention. Coming to a neighborhood near you.

Nation of suspects in land of the free

"The Bush administration has managed to cross George Orwell with Sting. Every step you take, every move you make, Big Brother will be watching you."

FBI acknowledges: Journalists' phone records are fair game

"The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations.

"'It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,' said a senior federal official."

FBI tracking reporters' phone calls in CIA leak investigation

"In an interview on the 'Democracy Now!' radio program, Ross commented, 'It was clear to us that somehow the government knew our records. We were told our phone calls weren’t being recorded, but just who we were calling. Now, in terms of trying to track down insiders at the government who are providing us with information, that’s really about all they need.' Ross added that the FBI had acknowledged they were tracking journalists’ phone calls. 'The person I talked to said, ‘Well, it may be more like backtracking.’ But under this administration, what used to be hard to do, in going after reporters and their phone records, is now easy.'"

Secret gov't source tells ABC News: 'Get new cellphones'

"'It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,' the source told us in an in-person conversation.

"ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls."

New presidential memorandum permits intelligence director to authorize telcos to lie without violating securities law

"Ordinarily, a company that conceals their transactions and activities from the public would violate securities law. But an presidential memorandum signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security. (See 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A))"

John Negroponte and the Latin Americanization of US politics

"Negroponte was nominated as DNI in February 2005. While the post was created in response to a recommendation from the panel set up to investigate the September 11 attacks, the real purpose of the position is to step up attacks on democratic rights and prepare for repressive measures against the American people.

"It was for this reason the Negroponte was selected. One of his main qualifications was his role as US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. In that position, he helped oversee the American intervention in support of the 'contras,' who were waging a vicious war against the nationalist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. During the course of the CIA-funded war, 50,000 people died and the right-wing contras employed brutal methods of disappearances, torture and mass killings."

Negroponte had denied domestic call monitoring

"When he was asked about the National Security Agency's controversial domestic surveillance program last Monday, U.S. intelligence chief John D. Negroponte objected to the question and said the government was 'absolutely not' monitoring domestic calls without warrants.

"'I wouldn't call it domestic spying,' he told reporters. 'This is about international terrorism and telephone calls between people thought to be working for international terrorism and people here in the United States.'"

Verizon denies giving NSA phone records

"Verizon Communications Inc. says it did not give the government records of millions of phone calls, joining fellow phone company BellSouth in disputing key assertions in a USA Today article."

Bush's 'Big Brother' blunder

"George W. Bush’s warrantless phone data collection may not only violate the U.S. Constitution but expend so much money and manpower that America is made less safe – by diverting resources away from more practical steps, like inspecting cargo and hiring translators."

Big Brother Inc. tries to fool Randi Rhodes -- and that's not nice

"I smell mendacity! The sticky-sweet Atlanta drawl of the PR flack for America's private KGB was dancing in rhetorical circles with Randi Rhodes, Air American, broadcast yesterday.. Unfortunately for the Bush-friendly Spies-R-Us contractor, Randi also has a keen nose for the telltale scent of pure bullshit.

"By 'private KGB,' I mean ChoicePoint, Inc., the Atlanta company that keeps over 16 billion records on Americans which it sells to the FBI, Homeland Security and, through a bit of a slip-up, identity thieves."

Dixie Chicks, Valerie Plame & Bush

"Certainly, no one who truly cares about democracy favors punishing critics and demonizing dissenters. But just such hostility has been the calling card of George W. Bush and his backers over the past five years as they have subjected public critics to vilification, ridicule and retaliation.

"While Bush doesn’t always join personally in the attack-dog operations, he has a remarkable record of never calling off the dogs, letting his surrogates inflict the damage while he winks his approval. In some cases, however, such as the punishment of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame, Bush has actually gotten his hands dirty. [See below.]"

Study guide for US citizenship test omits freedom of press

"But the $8.50 flashcards — which contain questions and answers from the actual citizenship exam — won't help immigrants learn much about the role of the press in American democracy.
"Question 80 asks, 'Name one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.' The answer lists freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the right to petition the government — but omits freedom of the press."

Supreme Court officially emasculates taxpayers

"In a unanimous decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a lower court ruling that would have invalidated massive taxpayer giveaways to Corporate America. The Supreme Court has long been the victim of a hostile takeover by Big Money interests. It is a court now headed by a corporate lawyer that has repeatedly gone out of its way to protect Corporate America's ability to bleed the middle class dry. Today's ruling, though, is particularly egregious. Not only did the court strike down an important ruling, but it essentially emasculated taxpayers' ability to bring any such lawsuits against their own government in the future."

Despite pledges, taxes increase for teenagers

"The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed this week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Mr. Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase.
"Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent."

The scariest predators in the corporate jungle

"The world's oil, gas and mining industries account for nearly two-thirds of all violations of human rights, environmental laws and international labor standards, according to a soon-to-be-released United Nations study."

The great oil race: Cheney discovers US is losing out to China

"Mr. Cheney was recently sent to Central Asia and other regions to coax allies to significantly increase supplies to stabilize U.S. gasoline prices for the summer. Administration sources said Mr. Cheney has run into significant difficulties as he has found that many of the potential suppliers have become committed to China."

Iraq, Iran and the end of the petrodollar: The waning influence of the USA in the Asian century

"Since 20 September 2002, the US government has abandoned its former multilateral approach to global affairs, and adopted an imperial posture known as the so-called Bush doctrine.
"This new agenda is based on militarist and imperial values with some theocratic overtones. This agenda looks much like what some people see in US foreign policy at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th, when the US actively sought to dominate the entire Caribbean basin, Central America and even the western Pacific."

Covey is right, you can't operate effectively independently in an interdependent world.

Deja vu - the for weapons of mass destruction this time in Iran

"Whether an attack on Iran comes, by US cruise missiles or B2s or Israeli warplanes carrying US-supplied bunker busters to penetrate deep into the earth to cripple Iran's fledging subterranean nuclear power industry, the main forces that drive the US to war will be the same as those that compelled the US, with Britain and other allies, to attack Iraq. Similar to the war against Iraq, possible military operations against Iran have very little to do with the Iranian regime's imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, and they are not even only about oil. They are essentially about the political control of oil supplies on terms favourable to the US. Here 'political control' means not only controlling access to oil - America has large oil reserves and diversified sources from abroad - but ensuring that oil is priced in dollars."

Is the Bush administration planning a nuclear holocaust? Will the US launch "mini-nukes" against Iran in retaliation for Tehran's "non-compliance"?

"All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as "a weapon of last resort" have been scrapped. 'Offensive' military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of 'self-defense'.

"The distinction between tactical nuclear weapons and the conventional battlefield arsenal has been blurred. America's new nuclear doctrine is based on 'a mix of strike capabilities'. The latter, which specifically applies to the Pentagon's planned aerial bombing of Iran, envisages the use of nukes in combination with conventional weapons."

House panel boosts Bush plan to build new nuclear warheads: Many arms control experts say idea is a huge waste of money

"A congressional committee took major steps this week toward financing the Bush administration's controversial program to build new generations of nuclear warheads, roughly doubling the budget for the design of the new weapons while reducing the money for maintaining the old stockpile."

Venezuela 'may swap oil currency': Venezuela has hinted it could price its oil exports in euros rather than US dollars, further weakening its links to the US.

"President Hugo Chavez said he was considering taking the step following a similar declaration by Iran."

Bush bans arms sales to Chavez

"Janelle Hironimus, a state department spokeswoman, said Venezuela had forged close relations with Iran and Cuba, both classified by the US as state sponsors of terrorism. She said: 'Venezuela has publicly championed the Iraqi insurgency.'"

US administration slams door on negotiations with Iran

"The US stance highlights the absurdity of President Bush’s declaration, repeated last Tuesday, that his administration is engaged in 'diplomacy' as "the first and most important option" to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programs. As far as the political gangsters in the White House are concerned, 'diplomacy' consists of issuing ultimatums, backed by the threat of war, and bullying opponents and allies alike into acceding to US demands."

International poll shows world is turning against Americans, not just president Bush

"In the past, while Europeans, Asians and Arabs might have disliked American policies or specific U.S. leaders, they liked and admired Americans themselves. Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest."

"Heh, heh, I'm a uniter!"

Bush turns to big military contractors for border control

"Through its Secure Border Initiative, the Bush administration intends to not simply buy an amalgam of high-tech equipment to help it patrol the borders — a tactic it has also already tried, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, with extremely limited success. It is also asking the contractors to devise and build a whole new border strategy that ties together the personnel, technology and physical barriers."

I guess Halliburton, et al, aren't stretched so thin in Iraq that they can't make billions back home as well.

Bush urged to give Putin the cold shoulder

"Dick Cheney, the US vice- president, is said to be leading the Washington charge for a tougher line towards Russia - as seen in his broadside launched from Lithuania when he accused Mr Putin of backsliding on democracy and using oil and gas for blackmail and intimidation."

The disappearing US dollar

"So far, the decline has been more or less orderly. But if it were to gain speed, the consequences for the U.S. economy could be grave. Rising import prices would fuel inflation, which in turn would drive up interest rates. This could then provoke a recession, with painful effects for the world economy.

"Moreover, there may be more to this story than a mere decline in the U.S. dollar. While the yen and euro are strengthening against the greenback, the real story appears to be that virtually all currencies are weakening against 'real assets,' and especially commodities. Oil is surging, metals have gone off the charts: all over the world, investors appear to be abandoning 'paper' assets for what is tangible, and thus apparently more secure."

Budget cut would shutter EPA libraries

"The $2 million cut sought by the White House would reduce the 35-year-old EPA Library Network's budget by 80 percent and force many of its 10 regional libraries to close, according to the advocates and internal agency documents."

US housing starts fell 7.4% in April to 1.1849 million rate
"Builders in the U.S. broke ground on the fewest homes since November 2004 as higher borrowing costs eroded demand, a government report showed."

Pension deficit, now $500 billion, may clobber corporate bonds

"Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Eastman Kodak Co., TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. and hundreds more companies delinquent in contributing to pensions will have to disclose more information about retirement funds and health-care costs in financial statements later this year, accounting rulemakers say. Congress is debating a new law that would force them to start plugging the gaps in their pension plans."

Quotes from www.bartcop:

"If you want to leave, good riddance." -- Arlen Specter (R-PA), to Russ Feingold as he walked out of a bogus hearing on gay marriage,Link

"Our polling tells us people don't car much about the cost of gasoline..." -- Johan Goldberg on Larry King, speaking for the GOP

"Having said that, I don’t want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on... -- Tony Snow, nervous at his first press briefing, Link

"The next six months in Iraq - which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there - are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time." -- New York Times foreign affairs (and Bush whore) columnist Tom Friedman,11/03/03, Link

"What we're gonna find out...in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war." -- New York Times foreign affairs (and Bush whore) columnist Tom Friedman,10/03/04, Link

"I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together." -- New York Times foreign affairs (and Bush whore) columnist Tom Friedman,12/18/05, Link

"We're going to find out...in the next year to six months - if a decent outcome is possible there.." -- New York Times foreign affairs (and Bush whore) columnist Tom Friedman,05/16/06, Link

"The expression tar baby is...used occasionally as a derogatory term for black people (in the U.S. it refers to African-Americans; in New Zealand it refers to Maoris), or among blacks as a term for a particularly dark-skinned person. As a result, some people suggest avoiding the use of the term in any context." -- Word of the Day, Link

"What Mr Snow meant to say was he 'didn’t want to chase that Sambo.'" -- Boy Genius, Link

"When I was little we always lived in diverse neighborhoods. My grandfather would call my black friends "tar babies." I didn’t know any version of any definition of "tar baby," but I knew what he meant, and he wasn’t being a kindly old grandpa. He was an old racist cracker who thought he was being clever." -- Zookeeper, Link

"We're a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws." -- The most crooked US president in history, Monday Link

"While America is a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws, and rewarding those who break our laws not only dishonors the hard work of those who came here legally but does nothing to fix our current situation." -- Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., furious with Bush for rewarding lawbreakers, Link

"Had he not done this, and something had happened, you and the rest of the world would be clamoring." -- Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., praising Bush for breaking the law with wiretaps Link

"Now that we know that Bush has been tracking every phone call made by every person in the United States, or at least those made by ATT&T and Verizon customers it makes you wonder what's next?

"Have Microsoft and Apple collaborated with the NSA to plant spy software into Windows or Apple OS-X? Are they tracking everything we do online? That would be the next logical step in the progression of illegal spying.

"So I would ask Apple and Microsoft, hopefully before the fact, if they intend to cooperate with the NSA to illegally tap our computers?"
--Marc Perkel

"I don't really believe those polls. As I travel around, I see a lot of appreciation for my husband. -- Pickles, lying to herself, Link

"The polls I believe are the polls that get run through the RNC. The American people like this president, ...they respect him." -- Karl Rove, Link Karl, your job is lying to others - not yourself.

"Every time this administration screws up, whether it's homeland security, Katrina, the border, illegal surveillance of Americans, they say, well, but 9/11, 9/11. Well, I'd remind them 9/11 happened on their watch." -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Rubberstamp) talking like he has a pair, Link

"AT&T has a long history of vigorously protecting consumer pribacy. Our customers expect and deserve nothing less than our fullest commitment to their privacy...but..." -- AT&T, caving in to Bush,

"USA Today better hire good lawyers. Remember that Bush has vowed to use espionage statutes to prosecute reporters who report on leaked "national security" issues. Spying on citizens and prosecuting reporters -- that's so Soviet." -- Joe Sudbay, Link

"Clinton prosecutor Robert Ray has been charged with stalking an ex-girlfriend. Now, if they would only find Ken Starr in a hot-tub with a naked boy..." -- Maru, Link

"I'm not sure what I'm going to read next. I've got a choice of a history of Afghanistan or there's an interesting book on Timbuktu." -- President Stupid and Crooked, who has Condi read to him, Link

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." -- H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) who never even knew who Der Monkey was

"In 2005, the top ten oil companies spent $33 million lobbying Congress and the Bush administration." -- Think Progress, Link

And Exxon-Mobil, all by themselves, made $36 billion in profit. That's over 1,000 times more than the bribe money they gave out....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Syndrome of Decay

Think Win/Win

The other night I had one of those moments of clarity when I should have started writing but didn’t. Now, I’m trying to reconstruct what seemed brilliant at the time. Clouding the issue was accidentally catching a PBS show last night on the impact of Masonic thinking upon early (and later) American political life. Further muddying the water was the arrival of the latest Harper’s. Then, to top it off was discovering I have a copy of Carl Becker’s study of the Declaration of Independence, complete with pithy comments about Rousseau’s influence on Jefferson’s thinking.

Here goes. I returned, you guessed it, to Erich Fromm and The Heart of Man earlier in the week and came across this passage:

"I shall single out three phenomena which, in my opinion, form the basis for the most vicious and dangerous form of human orientation: these are love of death, malignant narcissism, and symbiotic-incestuous fixation. The three orientations, when combined, form the ‘syndrome of decay,’ that which prompts men to destroy for the sake of destruction, and to hate for the sake of hate. In opposition to the ‘syndrome of decay’ I shall describe the ‘syndrome of growth’; this consists of love of life (as against love of death), love of man (as against narcissism), and independence (as against symbiotic-incestuous fixation). Only in a minority of people is either one of the two syndromes fully developed. But there is no denying that each man goes forward in the direction he has chosen: that of life or that of death; that of good or that of evil."

Fortunately, most of the people I personally know are oriented toward good. I suspect this is true for most of us; I hope so. While I feel safe in making this assumption, I also feel safe in stating that we now know the people leading the nation have a different orientation. For me, just observing them to be world class liars would be sufficient, but it goes deeper than that; they suffer the syndrome of decay and inflict their orientation upon the planet. Virtually everything they touch turns to merde or mort. What they might characterize as accomplishments benefit the few at the expense of the many.

I referenced Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People last week, and when I read the above quotation of Fromm’s, I was reminded of one of Covey’s habits relating to this discussion. When the Evil Moron made the inane comment early in his administration about how it was important to "make the pie higher," he doubtless was told something about the benefits of non zero sum thinking in solving complex world problems.

Covey explains zero sum and non zero sum orientations clearly when he speaks of scarcity and abundance mentalities. He writes:

"Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there, And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life."

Think about the Bush administration when reading the following as Covey elaborates on the Scarcity Mentality:

They "want other people to be the way they want them to be. They often want to clone them, and they surround themselves with ‘yes’ people – people who won’t challenge them, people who are weaker than they.

"It’s difficult for people with a Scarcity Mentality to be members of a complementary team. They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty." Well, that’s the way uber narcissists operate, isn’t it?

Regarding non zero sumness, Covey says:

"The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity."

He then says, "Public Victory does not mean victory over other people. It means success in effective interaction that brings mutually beneficial results to everyone involved. Public Victory means working together, communicating together, making things happen together that even the same people couldn’t make happen by working independently. And Public Victory is an outgrowth of the Abundance Mentality paradigm."

In my opinion, it is the opportunity for "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" instead of death, suppression, and the acceptance of misery: enlightenment versus darkness; inclusion versus exclusion; the founders versus Bush and the GOP.

Covey offers the comparison between abundance and scarcity mentalities as he explains the basis for Habit 4: Think Win/Win. BushCo, on the other hand, is all about win/lose outcomes. Essentially, the haves are the winners while the have nots are the losers. Just this past week, for example, the extended tax cuts have indeed made the pie higher for the haves.

One of my favorite Covey comments is, "You cannot act independently in an interdependent world." Well, as BushCo illustrates, you really can – for a while. Covey really means you can’t be effective in doing so. And BushCo has shown that in spades. Their ineffectiveness has led to the deaths of thousands in order to make the BushCo pie higher. In reality, when one factors in the rollback of over 400 environmental laws, millions are going to suffer and die. Some, less than 30%, delude themselves into thinking their leadership cares, but like death oriented leaders throughout history, there is no concern about consequences. BushCo, and others like them get their noses as deeply into the trough as possible while elbowing outsiders aside.

There must be an accounting, and it must come immediately. Each second of BushCo malfeasance brings all of us closer to greater harm. In the June, 2006, Harper’s, Ben Metcalf in "Notebook" writes, "I hardly mean to imply that George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob and mislead us for the benefit of his friends. That idea deserves to be stated outright: George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob us for the benefit of his friends."

Picks of the Week:

Harper's Weekly Review

Save the Internet

War on the Web

"This week, the House is expected to vote on something termed, in perfect Orwellian prose, the 'Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006.' It will be the first real battle in the coming War of Internet Democracy."

Is Stephen Colbert the last one to know how amazingly funny he was?

Almost two weeks later, the Internet is still buzzing about Stephen Colbert's already legendary scorched earth performance at the White House Correspondent's dinner.

Karl Rove indicted on charges of perjury, lying to investigators

"During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning."

As I write this, this is the only source reporting this that I'm aware of.

Hawks looking for new and bigger enemies?

"At the same time, however, a more aggressive stance toward the two powers [Russia and China] risks driving them further together in opposition to U.S. geo-strategic designs, particularly isolating Iran and asserting more control over the flow of oil and gas out of Central Asia and the Caucasus."

Putin chastises US on democratic ideals

"President Vladimir Putin took a swipe at the United States in his state of the nation address Wednesday, bristling at being lectured by Vice President Dick Cheney and comparing Washington to a wolf who 'eats without listening.'

"During an emotional moment in the nationally televised speech, Putin used the fairy-tale motif on the need to build a fortress-like house and to illustrate Russia's need to bolster its defenses. He also suggested that Washington puts its political interests above the democratic ideals it claims to cherish."

Forgive my obsession with Erich Fromm; however, in The Heart of Man, his first chapter is "Man -- Wolf or Sheep?" Here is a passage that caught my eye: "The ordinary man with extraordinary power is the chief danger for mankind -- not the fiend or sadist. But just as one needs weapons in order to fight a war, one needs the passions of hate, indignation, destructiveness, and fear in order to get millions of people to risk their lives and to become murderers. These passions are necessary conditions for the waging of war; they are not its causes, any more than guns and bombs by themselves are causes of war."

But what happens when you have sociopathic criminals misleading very ordinary people?

Russia aims to counter US with bigger arsenal

"President Vladimir V. Putin, in a blunt response to U.S. criticism of his domestic and foreign policies, declared Wednesday that Russia would boost its military strength to ensure its ability to resist foreign pressure."In an annual address to parliament, Putin said new nuclear and high-precision weapons would enable the country to maintain a strategic balance with the United States, which he compared to a wolf — the archvillain of Russian fairy tales — doing as it pleases in the world."

Personally, I've missed the cold war, and US weapons builders will be very happy.

China, Russia welcome Iran into the fold

"The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO's decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15."

Let's not forget that, in addition to being "The Decider," the Evil Moron is also The "Uniter".

Global eye

"Keep in mind why this is happening. Iraq's bloody 'regime change' was engineered in order to implement a thorough-going economic rapine plan drawn up for the Bush administration in early 2003 by the corporate consulting group BearingPoint, as Antonia Juhasz reports in her new book, 'The Bush Agenda.' BearingPoint, headquartered in the CIA company town of Maclean, Virginia, provided a detailed blueprint for opening up Iraq to predatory foreign 'investment' on terms that allowed the wholesale looting of the nation's wealth while acing Iraqi companies out of the action."

Rice, Rumsfeld block access to secret detainees - ICRC

"The United States has again refused the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to terrorism suspects held in secret detention centers, the humanitarian agency said on Friday."

Not on the side of angels. War criminals.

Full text of [Iran's] President Ahmadinejad's letter to George Bush

"Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make 'War on Terror' his slogan, and finally, work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but at the same time, have countries attacked. The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the presence of a few criminals in a village, city, or convoy for example, the entire village, city or convoy (are) set ablaze."

How Iran will win a sanctions war

"Though this strategy worked to unseat Iraq's Saddam Hussein, it has been a military disaster that will produce another regime ill-disposed toward Washington. The diplomacy of the Bush administration has accelerated Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program and set US relations back about 20 years. As in Iraq and North Korea, the application of US diplomacy to Iran will create the opposite of its intended goal."

US should be aware of the risks of Bush's war talk

"But the odor of something rotten in Washington cannot be cleared by such resignations; the problems are much deeper: Bush’s approval ratings are hitting record lows and calls for his impeachment for lying and launching an illegal war are getting louder. But it is precisely at such a time that he may strike elsewhere to divert attention from his crimes. The threats against Iran are also seen as psychological warfare to force Iran to submit to the US’s demands. Such threats have been heard before, but it was not until Seymour Hersh’s article in the New Yorker on April 17 that the threat of war was made explicit. The US’s threats to use nuclear weapons to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, as is its right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), are unbelievably hypocritical."

The US's geopolitical nightmare

"The chance was to deliver on the US strategic goal of control of petroleum resources globally, to ensure the US role as first among equals over the next decade and beyond. Not only have they failed to 'deliver' that goal of US strategic dominance, they have also threatened the very basis of continued US hegemony, or as the Rumsfeld Pentagon likes to term it, 'Full Spectrum Dominance'. "The move by Bolivian President Evo Morales, after meetings with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro, to assert national control over oil and gas resources is only the latest demonstration of the decline in US power projection."

US newborn survival rate ranks low

"America may be the world's superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia.

"Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia's rate is 6 per 1,000."

The above two articles cause me to repeat something I've said before. The US reminds me of Gloria Swanson's role in Sunset Boulevard. The former superstar confined mainly to her decaying mansion, surrounded by memories of her former life. Isn't this the situation the US is rapidly moving toward? Or is already there? "We used to be a superpower!" Lights dim.

General discontent with Hayden

"On Friday, Porter Goss unexpectedly resigned as head of the CIA, leaving behind an 'utterly irresponsible' 18-month tenure at the agency and unanswered questions about his hurried departure. Today, the White House nominated deputy director of national intelligence Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden as Goss's successor. 'Bottom line, I believe he's the wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time. We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time,' said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) yesterday on Fox News Sunday, voicing the bipartisan concerns of lawmakers. Hayden has demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution and has misled Congress under oath. His close ties to Vice Presidency Cheney, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, and the Department of Defense have led many members of Congress to conclude he is wrong man to gain the trust of the intelligence community and clean up the CIA after the 'chaos' left by Goss."

While Bush's new CIA nominee preps for a tough nomination battle, agency no. 3 Dusty Foggo is leaving the agency

"As NEWSWEEK first reported, the CIA’s inspector general has been investigating whether Foggo helped steer agency contracts to companies run by Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator when former San Diego congressman and ex-Navy air ace Randy (Duke) Cunningham pleaded guilty in a Congressional bribery scandal. The CIA has acknowledged that its internal watchdog is investigating whether Foggo helped steer any contracts to Wilkes, an old friend. The inspector general was looking into at least one specific contract, worth between $2 million and $3 million, which a CIA base in Germany granted to a company run by a relative of Wilkes. At the time the contract was issued, Foggo headed the CIA base’s logistics office, though he did not sign the contract."

The spies who shag us: The Times and USA Today have missed the bigger story -- again

"This is [The bigger story]: the snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration's Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government. You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB." . . . .

"Worried about Dick Cheney listening in Sunday on your call to Mom? That ain't nothing. You should be more concerned that they are linking this info to your medical records, your bill purchases and your entire personal profile including, not incidentally, your voting registration. Five years ago, I discovered that ChoicePoint had already gathered 16 billion data files on Americans -- and I know they've expanded their ops at an explosive rate." (Read it through.)

This time, it really is Orwellian

"But Bush made two parse-able points in reacting to USA Today’s story about the National Security Agency building a vast database of domestic phone calls. 'We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,' Bush said, adding 'the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.'

"In his brief remarks, however, Bush didn’t define what he meant by 'ordinary Americans' nor whether the data-mining might cover, say, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people, just not 'millions.'"

Reach out and tap someone

"Just five months after the New York Times revealed that the Bush administration was conducting a domestic wiretapping program without court approval, USA Today reported an equally explosive story yesterday stating that the administration's reach into the private lives of Americans is more expansive than previously believed. Not only has President Bush's National Security Agency (NSA) been eavesdropping on domestic telephone conversations and e-mail messages, but it has "also induced telephone companies to turn over the records of billions — that's with a 'b' — of domestic calls." The new revelations engendered immediate bipartisan criticism. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) questioned 'why it would be necessary to keep and have that kind of information.' Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Fox News Channel: 'The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers -- how does that fit into following the enemy?' More than 50 House Democrats signed a letter demanding an investigation by a special counsel. Bush's response was to politically demagogue the issue, claiming that the effort was part of an effort to track al Qaeda. 'That turns out to be far from the whole truth. ...[The] surveillance program [is] of enormous magnitude, involving not just al-Qaeda suspects but also the presumptively private data of almost all Americans.' Faced with legitimate concerns, Bush's response indicated he has a greater allegiance to Karl Rove's political playbook (which calls for politicizing the administration's domestic spying efforts) than to crafting and refining effective counterterrorism policies."

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

"The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."

I believe it's a benign program; don't you?

Constitutional skin

"Turley: Well, first of all this President's theory of his power I think is now so extreme that it's unprecedented. He believes that he has the inherent authority to violate federal law. He has said that. Not just the signing statements and the infamous torture memo-that Alberto Gonzales signed. It was stated that he could in some circumstances order federal officials to violate federal law and this is consistent across the board with this President. Frankly, I'm not too sure what he thought he was swearing to when he took the oath of office to uphold the Constitution and our laws. I've never seen a President who is so uncomfortable in his constitutional skin."

Excerpt from excellent Keith Olbermann interview with Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional scholar. You can link to the video. Watch at least the first half hour of Countdown Monday through Friday.

Bush defends NSA data collection program (Video)

"'We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,' he said. Instead, the NSA's efforts 'strictly target al-Qaeda and their known affiliates.'"

Translation: "We're profiling everyone, collecting account information, figuring out ways to subvert future elections, stealing intellectual property, gathering blackmail material on our political enemies. Heh, heh." If you ask yourself what BushCo is NOT capable of, it would be a very short list, and I doubt it would include destroying the World Trade Center for political gain.
The NSA has your number: This sounds like a vast and unchecked intrusion on privacy (From the conservative Chicago Tribune)

"This sounds like a vast and unchecked intrusion on privacy. President Bush's assurance Thursday that the privacy of Americans was being 'fiercely protected' was not at all convincing.

"We need to know more about this. The government, though, didn't offer confirmation or elaboration on Thursday. Based on the newspaper's reporting, this effort appears to go far beyond any surveillance effort that would be targeted at terrorist operations."

The MSM rallied around Evil Moron and crew Sunday. The local paper barely touched it, and Meet the Press gave BushCo a pass. Plus Laura was on. Guess what, she doesn't believe the polls. Well, how could she; she has to live with the moral cretin. Not only that, she has to sleep with him . . . ewwww!

Cheney pushed US to widen eavesdropping

"In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials."

Wiretap whistleblower's statement: What I observed first - hand

"While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal. I saw this in a design document available to me, entitled 'Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco' dated Dec. 10, 2002. I also saw design documents dated Jan. 13, 2004 and Jan. 24, 2003, which instructed technicians on connecting some of the already in-service circuits to the 'splitter' cabinet, which diverts some of the light signal to the secret room. The circuits listed were the Peering Links, which connect Worldnet with other networks and hence the whole country, as well as the rest of the world."


NSA whistleblower alleges illegal spying

"But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret 'black world' operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the NSA in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists."

NSA whistleblower to expose more unlawful activity: 'People . . . are going to be shocked'

"A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency said Thursday he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens."

US plans massive data sweep: Little-known data-collection system could troll news, blogs, even e-mails. Will it go too far? [February 9, 2006, article]

"The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity."

Benign. Move along . . . nothing to see here.

Potential evidence surfaces of Bush's illegal spying: An Oregon attorney may have proof of Bush's domestic spying operation -- which means the illegal program's days may be numbered.

"Thomas Nelson has been practicing administrative law for most of his professional life, but after Sept. 11 he first began offering pro bono work for immigrants detained in broad FBI terrorism sweeps. He is currently leading a little-discussed case that may contain the first documented evidence of an illegal wiretap and believes that, as a result, he himself has been subjected to warrantless -- and therefore illegal -- wiretaps and physical searches, the kind of clandestine operation that Nixon referred to as "black bag jobs." And as a result of extreme carelessness by the FBI, Nelson may have his hands on the only solid evidence of these searches."

Security issue kills domestic spying inquiry: NSA won't grant Justice Department lawyers required security clearance

"The inquiry headed by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers’ role in the program."

Questions raised for phone giants in spy data furor

"Legal experts said the companies faced the prospect of lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages over cooperation in the program, citing communications privacy legislation stretching back to the 1930's. A federal lawsuit was filed in Manhattan yesterday seeking as much as $50 billion in civil damages against Verizon on behalf of its subscribers."

I urge you to reach out and touch someone. Maybe start with the ACLU, asking them to file a class action suit. And they have a process for complaining to your carrier and for staying abreast of action items.

Why did Bush revoke Executive Order 13011 today?

"I find it very strange that, of all days or weeks in this administration and in the midst of a storm over the possible information abuse of private ciitizens, today would be the day Bush would mess with a previous Executive Order on information technology management. Will Bush push a broader information technology mandate for the federal government in the form of a new Executive Order? Is there something lethal to the administration in 13011, perhaps something that calls for oversight or review and that possibly places the legality of the NSA's phone number database in question?"

New security glitch found in Diebold system

"The hole is considered more worrisome than most security problems discovered on modern voting machines, such as weak encryption, easily pickable locks and use of the same, weak password nationwide.

"Armed with a little basic knowledge of Diebold voting systems and a standard component available at any computer store, someone with a minute or two of access to a Diebold touch screen could load virtually any software into the machine and disable it, redistribute votes or alter its performance in myriad ways."

Scientists call Diebold security flaw 'worst ever'

"Computer scientists say a security hole recently found in Diebold Election Systems' touch-screen voting machines is the 'worst ever' in a voting system.

"Election officials from Iowa to Maryland have been rushing to limit the risk of vote fraud or disabled voting machines since the hole was reported Wednesday."

E-mails: Bush aide offered Abramoff help

"The Bush administration's top procurement official offered his assistance to now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff as his lobbying empire began to crumble, according to e-mails released Wednesday by the White House.

"'Let me know if there is anything I can do to help with damage control,' David Safavian, who is now under indictment, messaged Abramoff on Feb. 22, 2004."

Bush crime family

Abramoff's NSA and domestic spying scandal

"We now learn that Abramoff is at the center of a much wider web of criminal activity involving private-sector NSA contractors and GOP lawmakers. Abramoff served as a conduit between the NSA and private companies that have become the focus of multiple criminal prosecutions and national security investigations, including the abuse of prisoners abroad, and alledged spying on Capitol Hill lawmakers by Abramoff clients."

The Medicare and Social Security hoax

"When the media reports, as the Post did this morning, that the problem is not with discretionary spending, 'but with entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which will grow by 23 percent through 2010,' they badly mislead readers. The cost of Social Security is rising only slightly faster than GDP. Over the next decade, Social Security spending is projected to increase by just 0.2 percentage points as a share of GDP. By contrast, spending on Medicare and Medicaid is projected to increase by a total of 1.5 percentage points of GDP."

It's only $300 billion: If we can fund the war in Iraq, why can't we fund the Kyoto Protocol?
"The worldwide cost of the war now exceeds $500 billion, a figure that includes the cost to Iraq (more than $160 billion) and to non-American coalition countries (more than $40 billion). For the Kyoto Protocol, full compliance is projected to cost less than $400 billion, because the United States would bear most of the aggregate costs."

But how would life benefit from the Kyoto Protocol? Sure, clean air and water, but at what cost? Look at the benefits we're already garnering from Operation Iraq Freedom?

Are you ready for the energy crash?

"Kunstler's rage and disdain was righteous and unsparing. He was pissed and he was eloquent: 'We've turned into this nation of overfed clowns, riding around in clown cars, eating clown food, watching clown shows,' he said. We're 'a nation of cringing, craven fuckups.'

"Kunstler singled out one element of the psychological dimension in American life: 'The idea that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. It's not a good thing for adults to wish upon a star. Right now, this is a normative belief -- that you can wish for things, and you'll get them.'"

Foreclosures up 72 percent from last year: Georgia, Colorado and Indiana [red states] post nation's highest first-quarter foreclosure rates

"Texas reported the most first-quarter foreclosures of any state, 40,236, and Florida reported the second most with 29,636."

Think about it. In 2002, Molly Ivins said to look at Texas (then), because what Smirk did there as governor was going to happen to the rest of the nation. And Florida? Well, it's run by another Bush.

Bush backs brother Jeb for White House

"The president said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is well-suited for another office and would make 'a great president.'"

It would be as tasty as adding fermented bean curd to dog poop . . . mmmmmmm! Poppy Bush said the Jebster would be "awfully good" as president. How about "goodly awful?"

Rupert Murdoch backs Hillary Clinton: by their friends you shall know them

"When it comes to politics, Murdoch, known in media circles as the 'dirty digger,' is equally adaptable in pursuing his personal gain. The most loyal right-wing Tory and friend of Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s, as he built up his media holdings in Britain, he switched his loyalties to 'New Labour' when he saw that Tony Blair could provide a fresh face for even more reactionary politics and was more than willing to further Murdoch’s interests in return for editorial backing. He made similar swings in his native Australia between the Labor and Liberal parties to further his efforts at monopolizing the print and broadcast media."

The welfare kings

"This temporary assistance to the needy rich (TANR) takes the form of a 2-year extension of a tax cut that made the maximum tax rate on stock dividends and capital gain income 15 percent. While tens of millions of ordinary workers pay income tax rates of 25 percent on their wages, the Republicans argue that Bill Gates and his billionaire friends shouldn’t have to pay taxes at more than a 15 percent rate. Most of this tax break goes to the richest 1 percent of the population. This is because they hold most of the country’s stock—and even when middle income people hold stock, it is usually in retirement accounts, which are not affected by this tax cut."

Stop the fiscal insanity

"Yesterday in the House of Representatives, 229 Republicans joined 15 Democrats to pass another $70 billion in tax cuts, almost all of which would benefit the wealthy. The bill 'extends the low 15% rates on capital gains and dividends for two years -- from the end of 2008 through 2010' and 'gives about 15 million taxpayers relief for just 2006 from the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax' (AMT). According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, 'The average tax cut for the 20 percent of households in the middle of the income spectrum would be just $20.' Meanwhile, 'For those with incomes above $1 million, the average tax cut would be $42,000.' Overall, 'the three-quarters of households with incomes below $75,000 would receive just 5 percent of the benefits' (no more than $110 each). Today, the package will move to the Senate. The Washington Post sums up the impact: "Budgetary dishonesty, distributional unfairness, fiscal irresponsibility -- by now the words are so familiar, it can be hard to appreciate how damaging this fiscal course will be.' (Had enough? The Center for American Progress has a plan for a fair, responsible, simple tax system.)"

Cities and commerce are designed for the driver, not the transit passenger. A dozen miles to work, 10 to the kids' school, four miles to the market, all on different points of the compass."And our consumer economy loves cheap labor. In the sprint to the bottom in labor costs, American companies that can't outsource their work abroad outsource it right here, to desperate foreign workers. Either way, we can afford to get just about everything that we think we want. And the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful."

Top corporate air polluters named

"The Toxic 100 index is based on air releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the United States. The rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases, but the relative toxicity of chemicals, nearby populations, and factors such as prevailing winds and height of smokestacks. The Toxic 100 index identifies the top air polluters among corporations that appear in the 'Fortune 500,' 'Forbes 500,' and 'Standard & Poor's 500' lists of the country's largest firms. The Toxic 100's top five companies are E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., US Steel, ConocoPhillips, GE, and Eastman Kodak."

Iran: Euro to replace dollar as oil currrency

"In July Iran will ditch the dollar in favour of the euro as the currency in which it will accept payments for its oil and natural gas exports, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Friday.

"The switch, first mooted months ago, was expected but Ahmadinejad's decision comes just as Washington is stepping up pressure on other United Nations Security Council members to act against Tehran for flouting agreements taken with the UN's nuclear watchdog."

War assured.

Quotes from www.bartcop.com:

"I didn't want to start a movement. I just wanted to be heard and have understand that this war, preemptive war, torture, holding people indefinitely without trial, all have shocked my conscience. It's not the way this country should be. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country" -- Joseph Durocher, returning the medals he earned in the Vietnam War, Link
"I'm saddened to give up my hard-earned medals, but the hate, torture and death you have instrumented in this world tarnished the symbolism they carry. ...the whole thing is about betrayal." -- David Patterson, Vietnam Vet, in a letter to Dubya on why he was returning his medals, Link

"The Canadian and U.S. leaders could not be more different. Stephen Harper is a genuine intellectual, brilliant in his understanding of issues. I think I'll leave it at that." -- Frank Luntz, Republican pollster Link

"Facing a storm of criticism over a report that the NSA is seeking data on every phone call made in the United States, Bush stepped before the TV cameras to launch a defense. The short version: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, and leaks are really bad things." --Tim Grieve, Link

"Republicans talk about cutting spending, but they increase it -- a lot. They stand for making government smaller, but they keep making it bigger. They say they're concerned about our borders, but they're not securing them. And they seem to think we're slobs for worrying." -- Peggy Noonan, turning on Der Monkey? Link

"A President has got to be able to say to the American people, 'diplomacy didn't work.' " -- Dubya, trying to explain Iran, Link Bush has the diplomatic skills of a masked mugger holding a butter knife.

"In the Bird Flu TV movie, America's competent (fictional) leaders were incapable of doing anything to stop an impending 300 million dead worldwide (give or take 1.5 million dead in the US alone) and the entire dissolution of the American economy and society as we know it. In the real world, add Bush to the mix, and we're basically dead." -- John Aravosis, Link

"Deadlines are important. Deadlines help people understand there's finality." -- Dubya, either explaining his May 15 deadline for his failed Medicare plan or why he won't put 'finality' on his bloody debacle in Iraq, Link

"This is much bigger and wider than just ‘Duke’ Cunningham. All that has just not come out yet, but it won’t be much longer and then you will know just how widespread this is." -- Rick Gwin, the top investigator into Cunningham's money and hooker scandal, Link

"We have no better friend in meeting these challenges than our friends in Greece." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"We have no better friend than Italy and it is a great pleasure, Gianfranco, to have you here." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"The United States has no better friend than Australia..." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"We have no better friend than the United Kingdom, going back in many years." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"We have no better friend than Jordon, a good friend..." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"We have no better friend than Japan." -- Condi, lying again, Link

"We don’t create enemies and terrorists by fighting back. We defeat the terrorists by fighting back." -- Der Monkey, during the 2004 presidential campaign, Link

"For every insurgent that I kill, I create almost 10 more." -- Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the U.S. commander in charge in Iraq, Link

"It is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. What you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is 'reasonable.' And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable." --Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush's CIA nominee, on why the Fourth Amendment no longer counts, Link

"Bush replacing Colin Powell with Condi Rice was confusing enough. Replacing John Ashcroft with Al Gonzales was even stranger. His initial pick for head of the 9/11 commission was Henry Kissinger -- that didn't last too long, did it? And picking Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor was simply funny. But the idea of replacing Porter Goss with Michael Hayden -- now that's vintage Bush. Take the guy who oversaw the nsa's illegal wiretapping program and put him in charge of the cia. If this isn't a vote of 'no confidence' in congress, the intelligence community, and the american public, then I don't know what the friggin' hell is." --Mimus Pauly, Link

"People say we cannot 'cut and run.' Cut and run was what got us out of Vietnam." -- Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., 88, Link

"Goss' primary roll at the CIA was to execute partisan purges on Bush/Cheney's behalf." -- from the Randi Rhodes newsletter Link

"What's the difference between Iraq and Iran? When it comes to Iran, the nature of the catastrophe will be evident on day one." -- Eric Alterman, Link