Sunday, January 28, 2007

People of the Lie Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picks of the Week:

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

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

Charging towards the big melt: Consumption has climate change consequences

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

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

Alps glaciers will melt by 2050

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

California's changing climate: Under water by 2100?

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

US chief executives urge Bush to tackle global warming

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

World is running out of water

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

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

Japan meeting seeks to save tuna from extinction

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

Too bad Japan doesn't support a whaling ban.

View of US's global role 'worse'

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

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

Travel to US off 17 pct since 9/11

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

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

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

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

Bush's war on the republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gonzales appoints political loyalists into vacant US attorney slots

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

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

Secrecy is at issue in US suits opposing domestic spying

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

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

Executive order expands presidential power over agencies

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

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

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

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

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

Bush oil reserve may support prices as Asia also buys

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

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

Pioneering US renewable energy lab is neglected

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

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

McNerney calls on Bush to keep State of the Union promises

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

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

Energy rhetoric and reality

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

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

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

General: Bigger army will cost $70 billion

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

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

Straddling the new and the old

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

Bush's health care conspiracy

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

New Orleans not part of Bush's speech

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

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

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

Raising America

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

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

Childhood poverty comes at great cost to US economy

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

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

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

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

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

The American way of war

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

An example:

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

US invasion was "idiot decision" - Iraq vice president

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

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

Idiots are as idiots do.

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

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

The world agrees: Stop Bush before he kills again

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

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

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

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

Pentagon struggles to get safest vehicles for troops

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

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

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

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

Who's helping the terrorists?

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

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

Bush twins in no hurry to defend US

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

US helicopters strike high-rises in Baghdad battle

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

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

Battle for Baghdad: City braces itself for US surge

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

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

It has unraveled so quickly

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

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

Chevron holds talks with Iraq to build facility

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

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

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

Why the 'big push' sounds horribly familiar

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

Rocket blast shakes US embassy in Iraq

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

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

A fool's errand in Baghdad

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

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

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

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

Debunking the escalation myth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bush and Blair, cockroaches in arms.

Blair told to resign before bringing ignominy on himself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Iran, Bush faces haunting echoes of Iraq

"This time, they insist, it is different.

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

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

ElBaradei warns on Iran nuclear facilities attack

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

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

Nuclear plans in chaos as Iran leader flounders

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

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

US troops authorized to kill Iranians in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

Stop the Iran war before it starts

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

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

The empire turns its guns on the citizenry

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

81-year-old liberals now terror threat

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

Rockefeller says he may subpeona documents on spying

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

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

Election staff convicted in recount rig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kerr-McGee is found liable in lawsuit over oil royalties

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

Big Oil gets to keep its loot

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

Rev. Moon's anti-Obama agit-prop

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

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

Former CIA official testifies against Libby

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

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

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

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

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

Cheney held up Iraq, senator says

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

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

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

Hogwash, says The Dick.

Gulf states seen shifting away from US assets

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

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

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

Existing home sales plummet in 2006

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

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

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

Foreclosure rates up big in December

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes from and others:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Talking Dog for Sale"

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

“You talk?" he asks.

"Yes," the Lab replies.

"So, what's the story?"

The Lab looks up and says:

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

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

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

"Ten dollars," the man says.

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

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